Monday, June 11, 2018

Is there a writing technique you've tried that you thought would work for you but didn't? (With Lorie Langdon!)

I'm delighted that this week our guest is another one of my fellow Blink/HarperCollins authors, Lorie Langdon!

Lorie is one half of the author team that writes the best-selling Doon series, a young adult reimagining of the musical Brigadoon. She has been interviewed on Entertainment and several NPR radio programs, including Lisa Loeb’s national Kid Lit show. The Doon series has been featured on such high profile sites as,, and Lorie’s solo books include, Gilt Hollow, a YA romantic thriller, and Olivia Twist, a historical YA romantic suspense.

We're honored to have her! Our first panel question with Lorie is:

Is there a writing technique/tool you've tried (Scrivener, outlining, scene cards, etc.) that you thought was going to work but didn't, or that you didn't think would work but did? 

Lorie: I am a born Pantser (i.e. I would rather write without an outline and discover the story as I go), but I’ve learned the hard way, through multiple rounds of rewrites on my first novel, that some plotting is necessary. When I began writing OLIVIA TWIST, a writer friend suggested that I try the Story Board plotting method. It looks a lot like a calendar, but each square is a chapter where you record the major conflicts and every fifth chapter is a major turning point. The squares are small, so I gave it a try.

I found that I couldn’t fill in the whole thing upfront, but I was able to fill in over half of the squares, including the Black Moment and the Resolution at the end. It gave me something to write towards and kept the pacing tight. I use story boarding for every novel I write now!

Shan:   I’ve tried many things--some worked for a time and then refused to cooperate for the next book and were retired. Anything that requires me to learn how to use it, is usually quickly jettisoned. I do not want to spend my limited writing time learning how to navigate Scrivener, so unless things change, that one’s not for me. Scene cards worked for my Angel Eyes trilogy, but were less helpful my last two go ‘rounds. Each story might require different tools, and I have to acknowledge that I’m still young in this. My process isn’t quite solidified.

Jill: Scrivener never worked for me for outlining or writing my books. It was too different from how I’ve trained myself to use Microsoft Word. I do use Scrivener to create ebooks, though, and I like the program for that purpose. On the other hand, I didn’t storyboard my books when I first started out. The first time I tried storyboarding was with the Safe Lands, and I think that’s because of the multiple points of view. I needed to try something new to keep track of all those parts. Writing the scenes for each character on a different colored index card allowed me not only to see the plan for the entire book at once, it allowed me to identify at a glance where each POV character’s scenes were and if there was a hole. I’m such a visual person, storyboarding has been a great tool for me to write faster with fewer changes.

Stephanie: I’ve tried scene cards a few time, both physical and digital. I love the idea of them, but they just haven’t worked for me.

We love hearing from those in our community of writers! What's a writing technique or tool that you thought would work for you but didn't?


  1. Thank you for this lovely post, ladies! It's amazing how different everyone's process is. I haven't tried plotting individual scenes yet, but that's one thing I don't think would work for me in most cases. What has helped me is understanding the key plot points and their functions via Blake Snyder's 15 story beats in Save the Cat. Because of fundamental differences between films and books, I may have to adjust the beats in the first act to work better, though.
    Thank you for joining the crew this week, Lorie!

    1. Yes, I agree about Save the Cat. It's useful but not completely applicable to novels.

  2. Replies
    1. We're so appreciative of you taking the time to be our guest!

  3. It's cool to see some different faces. Thank you for visiting Mrs. Lorie and to Mrs. Stephanie, Mrs. Jill, and Mrs. Shannon thanks for letting us see how you do things.
    So far I have tried pure pantsing, it didn't work too well. Right now I have a list of key points/scenes that I want in my book, and then I just go with the flow. It seems to be working so far.
    Happy reading,
    - Book Dragon

    1. Glad to hear you've found a process that works for you. For some of us, too much advance plotting zaps our sense of discovery and with it our enthusiasm for our story. So keep doing what works. Good luck!

  4. I'm trying out a similar method as Lorie, but mine is an actual calendar, since my book is historical fiction and spans one year. It's encouraging to here from a fellow panster that outlining isn't impossible!

  5. Thank you for this post!

    I found out the hard way that I am absolutely not a discovery writer. I discover, well... nothing, except tea drinking characters who think a lot... Outlining was like a lightbulb for me and it helped me so much. Suddenly the ideas flowed, I understood my characters and there was a real story. I tend to think of my outline as my first draft.
    I also thought that index cards would be helpful to get an overview of the story, but that method drives me crazy. Making lists or a mind map works better for me.

  6. I feel the same way about Scrivener. It confuses me, and putting in the time to figure it out detracts from my writing--especially since I'm more of a pantser.
    Because of that, I'd actually like to recommend the program Dabble ( It reminds me a lot of Scrivener, if Scrivener was simple and easy to use. Because Dabble is so clean and minimalist, it's helped me a lot in the past, especially with focusing on my writing without distractions. It might help some of you who can't figure Scrivener out. :)