It’s a very common question that writers ask one another. New authors and old-hands seem to return to this question repeatedly. In the writing world it’s almost as common as the conversational “So, what do you do for a living?”
Some authors can answer the question with a precise chronological time line others will give you a shrug with “I wing it.”
The question is, of course, How do you do it?
This can be asked in a multitude of ways.
Are you a planner or a pantser? Do you outline? How do you come up with this stuff? Where do you get your ideas?
I’m new to this gig and even I have run into this ubiquitous question. So – the last time it came up I took the time to really think about “my process.”
I’m a bit of a “plantser”. That’s someone who has a plan – to a point – and then they just jump and see what happens.
1. Pass one is basically bullets. How are characters feeling? What is the problem each is facing? How can they solve it?
2. From those bullets I form a timeline. This lets me see where I can have one character’s story help progress another’s. It also lets me get an idea of the scenes I will need.
3. During the timeline there are usually 1-2 good ideas that are expanded on.
4. This leads me to the scenes I will need to get through this progression. Start laying out the where, when, blocks, hindrances.
5. From there dialogue. What are these two (or more) characters needing to say to one another.
6. Sometimes inspiration strikes and you just get a gem of an exchange.
7. From there a very rough draft written on paper with asterisks and arrows and things numbered and rearranged.
8. Then I go to the computer – and start typing. Here one sentence might blossom into a scene all of its own.
Nothing gets cut. Every idea is recorded.
That is how I get to my first complete draft.
For me, this approach feels organic and easy. Heaven knows we don’t need to put roadblocks in our own way.
Like everything in life – you have to find what works for you.
and keep writing.