I know the title of this post suggests this subject will be merely egotistical, but knowing my writing process may be interesting and/or helpful.
For readers of fantasy, this may be interesting because your favorite authors may have similar processes when creating another amazing novel.
For writers, this may show you a way to conquer the ‘I don’t want to’s, to see a project to its fruition and to edit your work into (nearly) perfection.
To begin, let’s examine the first part of writing: the idea.
An original thought is hard to find, or at least I see my initial ideas in so many places. Just to vent: my current book awaiting some publisher, has a main theme of two people being stuck in one mind, Stephenie Meyer’s recent book The Host, also has this main concept. With these basic concepts are quite similar but they diverge severely after that point. Meyer’s book is a contemporary science fiction piece about an alien and a love triangle. My book is a fantasy piece about magic set in a medieval like world. I know what you’re thinking “Her book sounds better” and maybe it is, but my point is that no matter if you start with a similar idea, our own unique outlooks and imaginations allow us to take identical ideas to different places, establishing new novels out of similar concepts. Begin with a basic idea: give it plot, characters and conflict that take it someplace only you could create.
When I first get an idea, I roll it around in my head. Like a piece of clay, I warm it in my hands and shape it. Depending on how tough the clay is (how hard it is to mold your concept into something usable); it may take you a while to begin the shaping process. Depending on the complexity of my initial concept (sometimes it’s only a scene in a dream that I want to build on, sometimes I have 6 characters but don’t know what to do with them) this molding process can take a long time. If I don’t feel ready to begin a story, it can take me months before I begin a project. For me, this may also be a case of the ‘I don’t want to’s which is hard to explain since I do want to write in the grand scheme of things, but it can be hard to write in the moment. It has made sense to me, through the advice of others, that if you feel like you can’t write, you’re probably taking the work in the wrong direction. I find that if a project is taking too long to begin, it’s just my muse keeping me from making a big discouraging mistake.
Now that I’ve established a concept, gathered some characters, worked out some plot and conflict, I outline. At the beginning of a story I will do a basic outline, with a definite beginning and end and with a few points sketched out to carry the story from one end to the other. As I go along with writing, I will establish more in depth outlines to help carry me through important plot points.
I usually don’t work on expanding my characters until after I start writing and it hits me that my characters are a little flat/lame/boring/dull/crude. At that point I’ll have to do some character work (subject of a forthcoming post). This work often stalls my progress, but this is my writing process and if I don’t jump off the train when I’m excited (even if I am missing a few key elements) then I may never jump off and start a new novel.
Then, over the next who knows how long, I write and write and write and write. And since I just wrote and wrote and wrote all of this, I’ll save the rest of my process for another day…