Wednesday, January 25, 2012
How I Write
From Ideas to Completed Project
Everyone has a different approach to writing. Jeff Ambrose just posted a short note on how he massages ideas into various stories. Read his slant on the matter and see what you think. I believe whatever works for you is great. But if you need help getting off dead center, then experiment - try different approaches to getting a story from brain to paper. Dean Wesley Smith, for example, is in the midst of a 100 short story challenge and he starts with a title and goes from there.
A lot of times I will just start writing based on an intriguing scenario. I simply start off with an opening hook (usually in media res) that grabs a reader’s attention. Well, my attention anyway. And then I fill out that opening scene or develop the main character in order to get the story going and until I run out of steam (usually at 500 to 1000 words). At this point I let my story idea(s) simmer a bit (and maybe gather more ideas) and return to the manuscript later with a basic plot and very often an ending in mind.
This second step can come on the heels of writing my opening hook or many weeks later – or even longer! If you've seen my WIP list, you know I have a bunch of story starts just waiting around for my subconscious brain to return to them. Now, if I know the ending then I can power through on my third swipe at the story and maybe have something worth reading by the time I come up for air. Ambrose calls this the 'idea honing' stage. If I don’t know the ending of the story, I’ll just keep cycling back (I edit as I go) until I get there and discover what just happened. If I'm happy with the result, it's a wrap. If not, I go back and simmer.
That’s my current approach, at any rate. It may change as I move from short stories to novellas and on to novels. How do you go about the writing process?