I like my plots the way I like my socks. Tight and free of holes.
And, let me tell you, it isn’t easy.
I never really thought about ‘my process’ until this past weekend, when my husband and I had some friends over. I am one of those people who never really talks about their writing unless asked because I will go on and on and on until you are sorry you ever asked the question.
But, at somepoint during the many conversations, some unfortunate soul made the mistake of asking me how I come up with ideas for my books.
After the initial, “I don’t know,” it got me thinking about how, thus far, my stories have ended up nothing like the way they started out. And that lead me to the realization that I am an odd-builder.
Yes, I said odd-builder.
Let me explain it you you, reader, like I explained to my company:
I start with The End. It’s an image in my head, or a feeling that I get about a certain situation or story. Usually sparked by some event I read about or see taking place within the lives of people around me.
Then, I hit the internet. I search blog after blog, read endless amounts of advice on the creative process and the proper way to structure a story. But then, after a week or so–less if I’m really inspired–I remember that my brain won’t let me do it the usual way. I cannot tell you how many unfinished outlines I have stored in my computer.
Then, I jot down all the ideas about my ending (how it might have been reached and by whom) into a spiral notebook which then finds it’s way into my bedside table. It’s like binder after notebook after binder inside my nightstand.
This is my only form of organization when it comes to writing. Each idea, each plot, and character that graces the pages of my books gets it’s own section in a binder. The binders are labeled with the wroking title and the notes on plot or character are tossed in there like a paper salad. It’s messy, but it works for me.
From there, I go back to whatever it is I am writing at the time. I try to finish one project before moving along to the next. This way I dont have a million manuscripts I feel pressured to finish.
Then, once I have had time away from the idea, I go back to my notebooks and re-read everything. If i am still stoked about the idea, I start constructing.
This is where it gets a tad messy. See, I have my ultimate ending, but I don’t know who the characters are yet. So here is the place where I begin the inquisition. I ask myself
What events must happen for the story to reach it’s ending?
What motivates the characters to make the choices they must make to lead to the end?
What type of person makes those choices? A pschopath, a lonely girl, a guy who’s strapped for cash…the posibilities are endless.
Who do I want my character to be? What age and/or gender would fit best with the situations presented?
What traits do they have that I can relate to? What type of upbringing would they have that might influence their choices?
And the list goes on. These questions are also helpful when I reach that point in the story where I’m not sure what the character should do. I can go back to these questions and find an answer.
Once I reach a point of comfortable familiarity with my main characters, I begin free-writing. And through the process of turning on the voice in my head and letting it flow to the page, I find out who they really are, beneath the choices.
Well, that’s my crazy process.
What’s yours? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!