January 11, 2016

Not Everyone Writes the Same Way

By Mary Jane Criswell-Carpenter

Do storylines, plots, descriptions, and character creations interrupt your sleep? Mine did. I have always planned books and stories in my head, but I had writer's block when it came to outlining the plot.

I was taught to write at Saint Paul School of Theology. Dr. Tex Sample was my mentor and freed me to write by saying; “not everyone writes the same way." Up until then, I understood I had to outline to write, and I flunked outling in school. So I was stuck. When pursuing graduate school, you're not allowed to be stuck. The assignments were multiple and numerous. I discovered the stories and information were in my head, but I needed the key to let them escape. The key for me was when Dr. Sample stated, "Some people are stream of consciousness writers." Bam!

That key opened the door for that stream to come barreling out, like a rodeo bull rider leaving the chute.  Now I could write.

Currently, I am utilizing a combination of both methods to write my novels. I have written six books in the Mail Order Bride series, five as a ghostwriter. The five were purchased from me by Arden Marketing Services and utilized to their discretion. This prepared me to publish on

When I go to write a new piece, I begin with research as my genre is western historical romance. From my research, I find a character name from the US census of that time period. I expand to a 150-word synopsis of the story, naming the actors, and the situation. I list the setting, the critical incident, and possible detractors from their success.

The next time I write on this piece, I expanded it to 5,000 words. I progress the work to 10,000 words, and enumerate chapters. At each chapter, I write what I expect to occur in this situation. I move on to fill in each chapter, all the time working from stream of consciousness. After I have completed the manuscript, I slice and dice, editing for spelling, grammar and transitions. Finally, I start at the beginning and flesh out the incomplete scenes, adding more explanation or deleting unnecessary paragraphs, until the manuscript is finished.

If you are hindered as I was with writer's block, I suggest you try this method for yourself and see if it helps unravel your books.
Mary Jane Criswell-Carpenter is a voracious reader of all genres, and loves to write and quilt. She is married, has one Chihuahua, and three grown children. She has 12 grandchildren. She is a graduate of both Ottawa University and Saint Paul School of Theology and served as a United Methodist Pastor in the Little Rock and the Kansas East Annual Conferences. She has just published her first novelette, Maggie and the Stubborn Swede. Katyand the Wolves at the Door, Suzanna and the Exodusters and Mary and the Marauding Indians are her books. Her social media links are:

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