Creative Madness of author Darlene Panzera!

Genres: General Fiction

Thank you, Margaret, for having me as a guest today. I love the title Creative Madness Mama!

Here is a little of The Creative Madness of Darlene Panzera:


While I use charts, templates, and index cards to map out my story ideas, the way I put it all together to create a finished novel is a bit of madness.

I start with a mental image of a story I want to write. Usually a scene with a couple lines of dialogue. Then I come up with everything else in the story from there, moving forward or backward or anywhere inbetween.

A poster board helps with the brainstorming process because I’m a visual person who needs to see things laid out in front of me. I draw a big line down the middle and insert dots depicting the various turning points that must happen. I know there’s a beginning, middle, and end. I know there’s a specific inciting incident to start my hero and heroine moving in the right direction. I know they meet up and work together at Plot Point I and something happens to make them separate at Plot Point II. There has to be a revelation and a satisfying resolution.

Then I stick mini post-its with random ideas of anything else that could happen all over the place. Some might call this ‘The Snowflake Method.’  It drives my critique group crazy!

Next I look at my board and look for connections, and rearrange the post-its that work into their rightful place on the story line. The post-its that do not work I place into an idea folder. Then after I have a vague outline, I start writing and not necessarily in order. I may develop ending scenes before my beginning. Most of the scenes resemble a screenplay with lots of dialogue, only a couple stage directions and descriptions. Many times the story will change when I write because new ideas will pop up. Before my story is complete it undergoes several drafts. Lately, I’ve found a 4 part method to sort out the madness:

1. write a gibberish first draft as fast as I can

2. write a second draft using full sentences and character tags

3. move necessary plot parts around, evaluate structure, pacing, and motivation

4. line edit and final polish

Maybe it’s part intuition, maybe the freedom to move within a basic plot structure, maybe a little bit crazy, but somehow each story manages to come together. This is the beauty of creative writing. Then I dive back into the madness with a new undeveloped story idea once again!


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(No spam, I promise. Just creative madness ramblings, reviews and life-stories, with quilting and cross stitch inspiration in between!)

  • I cannot even imagine it all, but it sounds exhilarating! Have you tried the new post-its that have adhesive on three sides? They’re awesome. 🙂 Thanks for coming by Darlene!!

  • Wow! That’s crazy! I love hearing about writers’ processes. Darlene’s really does sound like madness, though it clearly works for her! And as someone who forgets things as soon as they pop into my head, the post-its are a wonderful idea!

    • Just as a reviewer, post-its are my friend. You should see my computer monitor. 😉

  • KL

    Darlene, your process is sort of like the Dramatica software but without the cost and it works! I always find it a lot of fun to play with and one story ends up spawning so many more.

  • I enjoyed your post! I’m finding that there are so many different ways to reach “The End”. I really like your post-it-note idea.

  • Great post! I too let the imagination roll!

  • Celeste

    Enjoyed your post. My process is remarkably similar to yours, but I have a good friend come over and help me with the initial plotting. She always asks good questions that get me to think about other ways the story could develop. Thanks for sharing your process, Darlene!

    • jdjones

      Great timing on this post. I’m trying to figure out my creative process and I have a deadline for it. I started with the stream of consciousness first draft method but I was afraid I was just putting on the page to say they were there. Now that I realized I was starting at the wrong spot I may have to go back and try it. Maybe I wasn’t as crazy as I thought. For plot writing software that actually has a post-it view look at Scrivener. You can download a free trial that lets you use it for 30 sessions (not 30 days)! The software is cheap if you decide to get it so its a double win. Thank you for sharing Darlene!

  • I am a slab potter and ceramic artist. Your thought processes are interesting and didnt realize it but I
    go through a similar process when creating a new piece. Thank you

  • Pingback: Darlene Panzera, author of The Bet, on tour July/August 2012 | TLC Book Tours()