Posted by: jeannineatkins | March 19, 2008

Writing Between the Lines

I guess I could write on a sponge, but there’s not much room for more than a sentence or couplet. So forget it. But what I feel as I write this draft is how much is cryptic – almost as if every other sentence is the outline for a paragraph, and a few are outlines for chapters. Writing my way into the story, I have to plod ahead with markers, but I’m aware of the blank paper sopping them up, sponge-like, asking for more, more, more.

I move on, knowing I’ll come back – many times. It’s a good thing I like these characters, though sometimes I have to stay away a while, so everything looks fresh when I return. My method takes some tolerance for messiness on the pages – lots of arrows and cross-outs and letters to indicate where a paragraph should match up with another. Of course my head is messy, too (but without the arrows and alphabet to organize). And I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised at this begin-small-then inflate method since the novel began, as my last one did, as a picture book.

Writing like this is, I suppose, is one way to almost outline. Without numbers or letters or summary, but a shorthand of dialog and events with scenes and stories hidden behind.



  1. Yeah for plodding forward. I am challenging myself to do the same this weekend with at least one of the three WIP.(I know myself enough to know I won’t do it during the week after work.)

  2. I KNOW you’ll be plodding forward, and you may be already doing it in your sleep, in your commute, etc. Only two more days till Saturday!

  3. Jeannine, I think you’re probably right–part of what you’re going through is from starting with a picture book. That’s a genre that just blows my mind away.
    It sounds like you’re picking out the really critical pieces you would put into a picture book and everything you know is telling you to expand. Personally, I’m glad, because I want to read more, not less, about your MC!

  4. Thanks, Becky. That was just what I needed to hear today!

  5. This is so interesting, Jeannine. I love the sponge analogy!
    I too have a novel in progress that started as a pb. I want it to stay a pb. Nobody else does. Sigh.

  6. There’s a lot to be said for both forms — drawing in, or spreading out. But sometimes the material does gives hints. And sometimes people. At least with a novel you don’t have to spend all that time cutting!

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