Monday, September 9, 2013

My Process of Writing

I’ve always been amazed at how much really needs to go into writing to make it good.  Long fiction especially.  The research alone can be a daunting task.  There are many methods, but only one has worked for me, and I’ve learned it through so much trial and error that I can sometimes get overwhelmed.

First and foremost is the idea.  What is the story going to be about?  And trust me, there are many many many ideas to chose from.  I’ve had two big writing failures in my life.  Most would try to tell me that they weren’t failures, one actually did pretty well.

The first was my first fantasy novel.  Some of the best writing I ever did was in it, but the main character was far too foreign to relate to.  A half dragon searching for his human mother.  It was a stretch, and I still LOVE the character to this day, but yeah...he was just too foreign.  I might have wrote over 200 pages in that book, but no one ever read past page 14.  Some people read some scenes, and loved them, but yeah...the opening was impossible to get down.

That was an easy shortcoming.  The story was good, but the character wasn’t easily related to.  You have to be able to connect to the character right out of the gate.  The opening line, the opening paragraph pulls you into the story, but you stay to see how the character works out.

The second idea is the structure.  How will the story unfold, how do you want it to end, how do you want it to start.  This is the area that I still look at as the most interesting part of the writing.  If you do it right, then you can truly create something special right out of the gate, and then just flesh it out.

The second failure, I mentioned earlier, was my Short Erotic Vampire Stories.  SEVS.  They are actually on my DeviantArt page to read, with many of my earlier poems.  The failure in those, though they were read and well loved, was lack of planning.  I just sat down and wrote the first one, friend wanted another, so I wrote the second, then friends wanted another, so I wrote a third.

After I wrote the third story, my friends came to me and told me how much in love with the story they were, and how wonderfully written and all, but a few pointed out the flaws.  Even that main character’s name changed.  I knew from that point on, I had to take notes as I wrote, and make an outline.

The outline turns out to be one of the greatest tools for me personally.  You start out with the basics, then fill in the plot points in order, then build around them.  I’ve always wanted to write an outline, and keep expanding it, until I’m writing the scenes in the outline, then take them out, paste them together and bam, have a story.

But, alas, the way I actually do it, is I get the main points down, flesh them out a bit, and start writing.  Every time I come across an key detail or point, I put it in the outline.  A character’s hair or eye color, if they mention their favorite color.  It all just gets plopped into the notes.

Lisa and I tried something with her newest novel, we really sat back and fleshed out some of the characters before they appeared, we ended up making a list of the order of scenes, and she went and wrote each scene in order, stitching them together as only she can.  And the best part is, the things we’ve done, though we’ve still had plenty of trial and error, has made the process and workflow of writing so much simpler.

The best thing I can say about the process her and I have developed, is that we understand the plot, every scene, and the ending before it is written.  Lisa has a stress free workflow, and the quality of the writing shows that.  This coming book is truly turning into something special, and I am so looking forward to the day she goes in and starts making another draft.  Once it starts getting refined, this story will shine.

So what’s the final verdict?  Make an outline, plot out the story, write down the major scenes.  Make notes as you go about everything, find a good format that works for you and stick to it.  Some people don’t use an outline, they just sit back and write and let the story go wherever it goes.  But I think you’ll find that some of the best stories are in your mind from the beginning and the main struggle is getting it on paper without getting distracted or simply having enough time.

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