Different Strokes for Different Folks

There are so many different ways to write a novel, which makes every story unique from one another. Some authors prefer to write from an outline, others write first and last sentences then go back and fill in the rest, while some writers prefer to write in scenes, mash them together, and reorganize. The ways authors could go about writing a novel are endless. Chris Bohijalian described his writing process in an article entitled, “The Writing Process that Led to ‘Close Your, Eyes, Hold Hands,” in The Huffington Post book blog.


I found his process really interesting because it provides maximum amount of freedom to let your creativity juices flow, which is an integral part of writing. It’s pretty simple- Chris just sits down and writes. He does not have an outline, nor does he know where the story will take him. He simply lets cause and effect led the way, only deciding on a story topic and voice before writing. Next, he lets the character take him through the story. It’s as if he puts himself into the mind of his character, writing down their emotions, thoughts, actions, and reactions as they come to him (which sometimes happens to be a bike ride).

Chris points out that this style of writing calls for a great deal of rewriting. He uses Ernest Hemingway’s approach- to start each day off rewriting what he wrote the day before. This concept, as Chris points out, allows him to remember clearly where he was the day before and gives him a jump off point to start his new work. I find this process intriguing because it allows you to revisit the state of mind you were in yesterday- you can choose to stay in that state of mind or modify. Every day provides a different perspective. It also provides a unique opportunity to connect each page of your novel to the next earlier on in the editing process, instead of creating a major headache after your first draft when you realize the flow of your story just isn’t right.

This process of not outlining the scope of your novel and relying on the character is a very challenging but rewarding creative process. It allows for the writer’s own creativity to take control.  When you have an outline it’s very common to become “married” to it, making it harder to change the story’s direction when needed. Obviously, this free handed style isn’t going to work for everyone, but the good news is that there are many different writing processes out there. If you have not found a style yet that you are comfortable with, give this one a try. Even if you just try it as a writing exercise, it will be very beneficial to feel the amount of opportunity that is out there for your writing. You really have no idea where it will take you. Write on.

2 thoughts on “Different Strokes for Different Folks

  1. Jennifer L Meacham, author June 15, 2015 / 11:10 pm

    This is exactly what I do! It’s the only way I can go about it, and I love every moment of it…. well, most moments anyway. 🙂
    The further I get into the story, the more I know where it is going to go. I have my first in a series of four (the story told me it will require 4 installments as I neared the end of the first) and am well into my second. I’ve since created the background, know where it is heading and how it will end. But, even though the story has unfolded before my eyes, I still don’t know all of the twists and turns to get me there. It’ll be a wonderful surprise, and until then, I keep adding more backstory. If you’d like to learn more, please check out my blog, CLOVERAmerica.net. Thanks!

  2. L.D. Parker June 16, 2015 / 8:52 pm

    So far, i’ve taken a hybrid approach. I plot out the main narratives but most of what happens in each scene is inspired and loosely based on the main narratives. Sometimes, characters don’t follow the script!

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