Wednesday, January 20, 2016
The Art of Writing...It Varies (Part One: The Idea)
Before I delve into the main post, I promised updates on New Empire Book 2. So far I got the prologue of the first draft done and a few chapters outlined. Not much I know, but it will pick up. I've also been working on a few short story projects, but New Empire remains on schedule at the top of my priorities.
Okay, now for the main post: My Writing Process; broken up into three parts: The Idea, The Outline, and The Writing.
As part of being a writer, I like to peek into how other writers work. Maybe there are a lot of you like me, or maybe I'm just weird, but either way I decided to reciprocate. As for me, the process I use now took me over ten years to perfect, and I believe that it's still evolving.
Every novel or story begins with The Idea. It's nearly impossible to begin anywhere else since, without The Idea, what do you have? Nothing. And often times, especially when it comes to novels, several ideas coalesce and collide to form one giant scheme. Now, some writers--such as the late Robert Jordan, author of TWOT, for an example--get an idea or two and then wait years or decades to allow it to germinate before then moving on to the outlining process.
The moment I get an idea I need to immortalize it in some way ASAP, because I'm so worried I'll forget it. The light bulb flashes on and I run to the nearest pen and pad or keyboard to jot it down. If those tools aren't available I'll gnaw a hole in my wrist and use my own blood to write it on a wall.
But, the funny thing is, I've NEVER forgotten an idea, whether I wrote it down or not. While the time frame between getting The Idea from my head to paper is relatively short (averaging several seconds to several days tops) it never gets that far if I don't get the next ingredient, that Something Else, that bridge that'll allow the seed that is The Idea to fully mature into story.
As an example, here's an idea that never made it to paper, yet I still remember it vividly. This was seven or eight years ago, shortly before my son was born; I was standing in my living room, looking out the window, when I happen to see the recycling guy emptying the bins into the truck, which were full of cardboard boxes from the recent baby shower. My writing brain got to thinking about how much info guys like that can obtain from the contents of a simple recycling bin. They'll know if you just bought a big-screen TV, an expensive gaming system, knows if there's kids living there, all this stuff, and then I got the idea for a story called The Recycler (tentative title) about a guy like that breaking into and robbing peoples' houses and stalking the residents by using the information he got from the bins.
Of course the idea fizzled rather quickly since it was lacking the next ingredient, which was commercial viability. (Any of you reading this out there, feel free to use the idea if you want, free of charge; I'd like to see it work)
On the flip side, one night I was watching one of those Prepper shows, and one guy was showing off his former missile silo that he planned on converting into a luxury subterranean post-apocalyptic hotel, and he was already renting spots to strangers.
So I got to thinking: what if the guy let in a serial killer (or killers) by mistake, and what if the population at large had no way to escape, and what if they didn't know who it was until it was too late. Right there is the point where the initial idea and the special ingredient came together, suggesting to me the strong possibility of commercial viability, which then lead me to the next step: The Outline, where I flesh out the idea and lay the groundwork for some serious creating. (If you haven't guessed, this particular idea became the basis for my novel, Let Nature Decide)
Next up: The Outline.