Last week I blogged that I was starting a new project — Broadway Story (which has nothing to do with singing and dancing on stage) — so I thought I’d share how I’ve been getting this thing from idea to first draft.
Many eons ago when I first started writing, I’d have an idea, get super excited about it, and start writing to see where the story took me. This method works great for some people. It didn’t work so great for me. I consistently had shallow worldbuilding, plots that would make my three-year-old niece roll her eyes, and characters with weak motivation and goals whose actions never made a ton of sense. I struggled to produce more than a thin representation of the story brewing in my head because what was in my head wasn’t finished coming to life.
Over the course of writing several nw stories, I began developing a new process. I tried to do a little planning here and there but it took until INCARNATE that I finally knew what I needed to know before I started writing the first draft.
1. Idea seed. I need to know where the original excitement for the story came from. (For example, with INCARNATE, the idea seed was a society of perpetually reincarnated people plus one new person.)
2. Worldbuilding. I have to know where these characters live and what kind of complications the world may present.
3. The main characters: their motivations, their conflicts, and how they interact with each other.
4. Plot. It doesn’t have to be the final plot, but there needs to be a beginning, middle, and end, and a basic map of how to get from one point to another.
5. Emotion. I need to know how the story makes me feel, and which parts are going to make me feel the most.
I don’t need to have all of these planned out exactly in order to start writing — I like to leave room to explore and change things whenever I think of something better — but having a plan has made a huge difference in my writing.
I should pause here and remind you that everyone’s writing process is different — and that’s okay. Heck, lots of writers will tell you that their processes are different just for different books. Mine have been going for “same but different” when it comes to how I need to prepare to write a book.
So, I thought I’d talk a little about each of those five things and how I get them from a thing I need and have vague feelings about to an actual plan. But . . . since this post is already a little lengthy, I’ll break here. Next post: expanding on the idea seed thing.
If you’re reading this as I post, some of the links might not be live yet: