Exploratory Writing Techniques Series - Part 3: Listing

The third entry of this series is for writers who would prefer to use an exploratory writing technique that requires listing items.

Listing differs from Free Writing and Journalists' Questions, because it requires blocking out one to two hours to write.

It is best to use a medium that is spacious, and one that you can easily write, erase, and rewrite items on.

When I implement this technique, I use a 22x35, dry erase board.

For Listing, you will write about these elements of your story:

  • Characters

  • Setting(s)

  • Important Events

First, list all of your characters, then ask if they are essential to your story. If someone isn't, erase that character from your list. If you don't have enough characters to move your story forward, add more.

Next, write about the setting of your story. Make sure it suits the composition you want to create. Add more settings, if necessary. If you like to draw, you can create map(s) of your story's location(s).

Lastly, list important events that occur in your story. Eliminate any events that don't move it forward. Add events to this list, if it is too short. Then, re-order your list of important events, so you know how your story will begin and end.

For my fellow writers, who would prefer to use diagrams for exploratory writing, the next entry in this series is for you.