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Writer’s Craft # 111 Free-Fall Writing

February 18, 2013

rahimaRahima Warren is the author of Dark Innocence, Book One of The Star-Seer’s Prophecy. She is a life-long lover of fantasy and sci fi, and always wondered how writers came up with these wonderful stories, never thinking she might become one of them. For 20 years, she was a licensed psychotherapist, but in 2000, a character named Kyr took over her life and insisted she write his story. After three years of free-fall writing, she found that she had written a trilogy, and that it deserved to be revised, edited and published. Book One: Dark Innocence was published by Rose Press in 2011. She’s currently editing Book Two: Difficult Blessings, while Book Three: Dangerous Bliss awaits revision. For more information, or to read her blog, Inner Views, please visit www.starseersprophecy.com


Do you enjoy outlining and planning your stories before you write? That’s a wonderful talent, and might save me a lot of time, if I could do it. But perhaps you are more like me, and feel imprisoned by outlines? If so, here are my tips for what I call free-fall writing. When writing a first draft, just jump out of that airplane and see where the winds of creative passion take you.
Let the story flood out, unhindered by thoughts of “should” or “That’s not how it’s done,” or “I don’t dare!” or, most poisonous of all, “That’s no good.” Just write. No editing. Don’t think about where it’s going. Just let the story evolve onto paper as it will. It can be quite surprising when you let the story go where it wants to.
Write just for you and your main character(s). Let them come to life, breathe, and take you on their journey. It’s their story, after all, not yours. What’s important is to be loyal to the story, to the characters, and write because you love them and want to help them live out their adventures. Personally, if I wrote with others in mind (audience, publishers, critics), my passion and joy in writing would freeze up fast.
Don’t worry. You can revise as and edit as much as you want later on. For the first draft, at least, just trust, let yourself free-fall, and enjoy the creative flow.

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16 Comments leave one →
  1. February 18, 2013 8:55 am

    I love that phrase, “free-fall writing!” Much better than “pantser.” It’s how I’ve always written and will probably always will, although there is a downside to this technique, too.For me, the downside is a tendency to write waayyyyy long! My first full-length novel is still hanging around, after more than ten years, and I’m starting to rewrite it. Again. From scratch, this time, because my writing is so much stronger than it used to be. I have a very sparse outline this time, just to keep me to the main story without the unnecessary scenes I loved so much but don’t need. Maybe now I’ll get it somewhere below 125,000 words . . .

    I’m still writing in free-fall, though, because it’s so much more fun!

    • February 20, 2013 11:09 pm

      Oh, I know what you mean, Marti. My first novel ended up a trilogy – but free-fall writing really is so much fun!

  2. February 18, 2013 12:54 pm

    Really enjoy reading Free Fall writing Rahima. Your story, characters and emotions would follow a natural course like a river ~ I love your words ~allow the characters to live and breathe. My autobiography was written in fall free writing , however, the words came from a place of pain . I am looking forward to free fall wiring from a place of love in my next book . Thank you. Rahima.

    • February 20, 2013 11:11 pm

      You are so welcome, and I hope you can free-fall from a place of love, too. Enjoy!

  3. February 18, 2013 1:59 pm

    Great advice! Love it!

  4. February 18, 2013 6:35 pm

    as Louis l’Amour said, ‘to get the water running you have to turn on the faucet’…..

    • February 20, 2013 11:13 pm

      Good quote, Simon! Though I remember thinking he needed a good editor. Free-fall writing by itself isn’t enough, usually.

  5. February 18, 2013 6:48 pm

    Oh, the dreaded Internal Editor! I have learned the hard way to send her on a paid holiday when I start a new story!
    I read somewhere that the trick is to expect to write a bad first draft. That way, when you start revisions you, a) won’t be disappointed, or b) be pleasantly surprised!

    • February 20, 2013 11:16 pm

      Good trick – expecting a “bad” first draft. Though in pure free-fall, I have NO expectations. I’m just enjoying the ride!

  6. February 19, 2013 1:09 pm

    Interesting and useful information…..thanks!

  7. February 19, 2013 11:12 pm

    This is how I wrote my first draft, Rahima. I had a few scenes in my mind but no idea how they would link so I just sat down and wrote…for 5 years. I ended up with a 600 page draft that needed to be rewritten and is now in the process of being edited but I can’t imagine doing it any other way.

    Sometimes we don’t know the whole story. We have things we need to learn and experience before we can write the last chapter. This process leaves room for all that. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to write a story from an outline.

    • February 20, 2013 11:19 pm

      So true. Sometimes we don’t know the whole story, and have to learn something before we see where the story is going. I can’t imagine writing from an outline, either.

  8. February 20, 2013 7:01 am

    I’ve recently found myself telling the story of someone in another world. It’s great fun and its definitely free fall!! The thought of an outline is ludicrous! I have no idea what is going to be written until after it is. And what I’ve written is always better than what I could have planned.

    The organized gene in me wants something to hang on to, so a time-line is evolving. Said time-line, however, is semi free fall. I have the great good fortune to be part of a very active and proficient writer’s group, which is helping me fine-tune my writing overall without smothering/withering what I’m writing.

  9. February 20, 2013 11:25 pm

    How exciting, Elmdea! I’ll be curious to see how your story turns out.

    Good description of the free-fall process: “having no idea what is going to be written until after it is” – love that!

    It’s great that you have such a good writer’s group. I haven’t tried that, (a bit envious here!) but I did work with a great editor – very supportive and knowledgeable. She was a great help.

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