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Reflections of a working writer and reader



Creating a Text – Yvonne Eve Walus

What phases are involved in the creation of a text?

I’ve tried many different ways of writing:

Jumping in without having planned anything.

Writing an outline from the beginning to the end before starting the actual text.

Writing an outline from the initial idea/premise and expanding it outwards (I think it’s called the snowflake technique) before starting the actual text.

Looking through my file of ideas and pulling out 5 random ones (hopefully some characters, some settings, some themes) then meshing them together to see what happens (brainstorming). For example, I may have pulled out “witches”, “Communist Cuba” and “revenge”. . . can you see the beginning of a story already? I can.

Mind-mapping: when all else fails, and I’m blocked, I take a word I like or a word that fascinates me at the moment: chocolate, angels, red, travesty, Thailand – just one word, write it on a piece of paper in the middle, then jot down everything that springs to mind (red: red light danger, red light district, red shoes, seeing red, anger, blood, revenge, violence, birth, love hearts, roses, dragons . . . )

I think a lot depends on whether the story is plot-driven or character-driven or setting-driven. If it’s a plot-driven murder mystery, I’ll try to think up a devilishly clever plot before I sit down. With a character-driven story, you can afford to sit down and start typing without a plan, provided you know what motivates your character. With a setting-driven story, I immerse myself in the setting (be it Thailand, communism or a fantasy world I’ve created) for a long time, get to know it and its conflicts, before I start writing.

Yvonne Eve Walus is the author of Interview with a Dragon; her website is:; she blogs at: A Novelist Speaks . . .

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