My process for starting a new story is pretty simple.
- I have an inkling of the location where the story takes place. I definitely have the main character profile figured out (gender, age, background).
- I identify the genre of the story (very important so that you know the expected genre requirements).
- I pick a name for my main character.
- I might jot down a few notes that serve as an outline in the loosest possible way. This is because secretly I love the idea of being a plotter and declare to myself that this time I will be more organized.
- I give myself a deadline for finishing the story (following up on #4).
- I buy myself a lovely new planner so that I can assign myself a daily word count goal and track it.
- I sit down at the keyboard and start to write.
That’s it. At some point rather early on (usually within the first 10,000 words), the notes get tossed to the side because my characters have taken over. After writing as many stories as I have, I have gotten used to that happening, which is why I don’t bother doing a ton of plotting upfront. (For all you plotters out there, I bet that comment makes your skin feel itchy.)
As much as I love the idea of trackers, word counts, Excel spreadsheets, and the like, #6 gets tossed out the door because I’m clinging to dear life just trying to make sure I write something everyday. Some days, life gets the better of me and nothing gets down on the page. Other days, I am a writing goddess and bust through 10K words across several writing sessions in one day.
I tell you this because I’m currently gearing up to write another story. I’ve written about 800 words on it so far. It’s actually a story I’ve started and stopped several times because I haven’t gotten the front end quite right yet. This time though is different, and I’ll tell you why.
My character has a face. She has a name. She’s made herself known to me.
Until you feel that strong sense of who you’re writing about, the writing can feel flimsy, awkward, and disconnected. It’s work. Now I’m not saying that writing isn’t work, but when you aren’t connecting with the characters you’re writing about, it’s the kind of work that sucks out your soul.
Definitely no fun.
Two nights ago, as I was contemplating where I was going to go next in my writing journey, I stumbled across a cover reveal that I did over a year ago, and I remembered this little story that had gone nowhere.
And then BAM! She was there in my head. I had her and she couldn’t stop talking to me. I know more about her now then I ever have, and I know it’s time to tell her story.
That’s the amazing thing about opening the casting door and letting the characters in at will. Who shows up will always surprise you.
This is the first story that I’m going to “write out in the open”, if you will. In a post I did a few days ago, I emphasized the importance of simply finishing the story. To many people, that step feels very hard. So I’m going to let you into my world to see how I do it from beginning to end. That serves three purposes- you guys will be able to see that I am actually working on something new, I’m holding myself publicly accountable, and you’ll get to see first hand how the creative process works for me.
Happy Writing? 😉
(photo credit fabrizio q)