Is there a best way to write?

Aside from writing every day, I don't know of one.  Different writers work in different ways.  Of the stories I've had published so far, some have been written in several different ways.  I've written without outlining and with outlining.  Without lots of advance research and with lots of advance research.

When I first started writing, I didn't outline stories or do any real advance preparation, I just wrote.  My first two sales (The Future is Now to Analog and Jilka and the Evil Wizard to MZBFM) were written that way as was the unpublished first attempt with EMT.  Starting with Match Point (sold to Analog) and the revisions to EMT (also sold to Analog) I began outlining new stories whether book length or short-shorts.   Of the other writers I know, some outline and some don't.  It depends on the writer and it can change for a given writer over time.

So, as to their being a "best" way to write, probably not, not in any absolute sense.  But there can be a best way for you and for now.  The thing to do is to find it.  To help you with that, I'll tell you how I work now.

When I start, I generally have some concept of something I want to say in a story.   It can be a character I want to use.  It can be a situation or a "what if" game. ("What if an empire modeled on the British Empire were competing with an empire modeled on Rome" for instance.) It can be a tech idea.  Whatever it is, it gives me a basis of what to say.

Once I have my starting concept, I start writing down ideas and more or less free associating.  As the ideas accumulate, I start organizing them into categories:   Politics, economics, history, characters, possible plot points, technology, and so on.  This gives me an idea of the scope of the story I'm going to be telling.   It's here that I get an idea how long the story is likely to become.

The next step is the "basic blocking" where I write a short listing in what should be story order of the largest events of the story.  "Kreg arrives in Trevanta & befriends Caila and Shillond.  He returns with them to their native Aerioch and finds that war has broken out between Aerioch and Schah.  Caila and Shillond are sent on a spy mission to find who Schah's secret allies are and Kreg accompanies them.  Etc."

After the basic blocking, I break things down into a more detailed outline. "During their return to Aerioch, Kreg & Co. come across the body of a nursing Coyote.  Caila pleads with Shillond [her father] to at least try to find the cubs.   A search of the area eventually turns up the den with the cubs.  Caila's attempt to hand-feed, the starving cubs has poor success and over the course of the night all but one of the cubs dies.  That one, however, does start to take food.  And so on."

Once I have a fairly detailed outline, I then start writing the actual text of the story.  It often happens that the story develops in directions away from the original outline.  When that happens, I usually pause and rework the outine, blocking, and/or notes as needed to match the new direction for the story.

In time, the story is done and I then go back over it a couple of times to edit.   However, editing is a whole other topic and I'll cover that in another essay sometime.

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