Monday, April 26, 2010

The Process

So, I’ve been – somewhat – working on this urban fantasy idea. Okay, it didn’t start out as an urban fantasy idea, but somehow morphed into an urban fantasy idea, and so I’m now working on an urban fantasy idea. Whew! Anyhow, the process with this project – first few chapters written, a very bare and basic outline composed – has been a bit different than normal.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this project. Thinking. Thinking. Thinking. Thinking some more, and some more, and some more, and some more.

First – there was the whole magical object idea. What was the object? What did it do? How did it do it? And all that jazz. I thought I had it all figured out . . . well, at least what it was, and then the other day I changed my whole game plan. Go figure. I’m crazy like that sometimes. I finally came up with the perfect magical object. Woo-hoo.

Then, there were other issues to deal with before immersing myself in the actual writing project.

One of those issues somehow became the protagonist’s last name. I don’t know why this became an issue. In many instances, I don’t give my characters last names. Last names are just trifling details that – in a lot of cases – are unnecessary. Sometimes, they’re needed. Sometimes, they’re not. In this instance, this project, I needed a last name. I finally figured one out. It was very clever or me. Yeah, I’m patting myself on the back. The name ties into the mythology behind this story, or rather the fairy tale basis for the inspiration of this story. Woo-hoo.

Another one of those issues was the antagonist. I mean, why in the heck was he the only one capable of committing this one act that would break a spell centuries old? Why couldn’t some of his family members and/or other members of his community do the same thing? Wouldn’t the effect be the same? Why him?

So, I had to work through those questions. I’ve pretty much done so. Pretty much. Yeah, there’s a few questions still to answer, but I’ve figured out the big answers . . . all without writing something down. Nothing. Nada. Okay, I wrote stuff down, but it wasn’t until I worked out all the issues in my mind first. I’m a rebel like that sometimes. Ha!

So, I’m gearing up to begin writing on this project. I’ve already written the first few chapters, and I’ve written an important chapter close to the end of the story as well. So, I know where I need to go with my writing from what I’ve written – beginning and almost the end. Now I just have to write all the in between stuff. Crap!

Now for the requisite question(s): how much writing do you do in your head in prepping for a new project? Is your process in any way similar to what I’ve gone through? So abstractly different to be mind boggling? C’mon, spill your secrets.


Stina Lindenblatt said...

Let's put it this way. If I spend half as long tiding my house as I spend preplanning my novels, my house would look amazing. ;)

VR Barkowski said...

As a general rule, I have a premise in my head and then I write. So much for process.

Disclaimer: my current WIP has a historical aspect, so I admit to doing lots of background research and note taking before sitting down to the computer.

SJDuvall said...

Oh, I agree with Stina! I love planning and plotting novels. It's a compulsion. I cannot go forward until I know a lot about my characters and world (or their environment). It just goes against my OCD nature and my need to create unique and interesting (and different) characters. But, I also don't hold myself to everything I come up with. So it all works out in the end (at least as far as I can see).

Robyn Campbell said...

You know I hear voices. =)

I always have the story in my head, before I actually start writing it. And after too. I have been known to write the first chapter, two middle chapters, and the last chapter. Of course they change, but they are my road map. And that really helps me delicately define the story. I say delicately, because it changes in revision, but the basic is still there.

I'll be back to blogging next week. Thought I'd give meself a plug. hehe

Elizabeth McKenzie said...

A good deal of the problem solving is writing in your head, but for me, if I have an idea, I'd better commit it to paper pretty dang fast.

Good luck with your writing

Davin Malasarn said...

I've been changing my approach. I used to just sit down and writing, and my answers would come out, often on accident, or I would stumble upon them. Lately, like in the last two months only, I've told myself to think longer and wait before I write. I'm not sure if it will work for me, but it does seem like a better approach for what I'm doing these days. Congrats on making some progress!

T. Anne said...

I spend weeks or months brewing over an idea before jumping in. I don't mind taking notes but if I don't really know the characters I don't jump into the MS.

Scott said...

Stina – ditto!

VR – it’s only been with my last few projects where I’ve really spent the time thinking and all that jazz. Normally, I get a premise and begin writing. Not so much with this current project, but maybe because it’s outside my realm of normal writing.

SJ – normally not so much with me, but this project’s a bit different than others. I don’t know if it’s just this project, or if I’m changing how I write. Hmmm . . .

Robyn – yes, we all know you hear voices. Ha!

Elizabeth – I commit the basic premise to paper right away and then the thinking begins. This project – urban fantasy – has a bit more complexity (magical items, fairy tale basis for inspiration, etc.) that I think I needed to figure out all the nagging questions I had before getting too involved in the process. I’m just about there.

Davin – thanks. I think we change how we write as we become more comfortable with ourselves as writers . . . if that makes any sense at all. I know that my normal writing process has changed over the last year or so, and I think it’s a pretty good thing (i.e., change). In many ways, I’m addressing the nagging questions sooner, rather than later; but I also know other questions will happen as I immerse myself in the depths of my imagination.

T. Anne – I think I’d have a few weeks invested if I added up the actual time spend thinking about this project, versus the passage of time in which I worked on other projects. I had inspiration for three projects right about the same time. I jotted down notes, etc. on all three projects, wrote on one project one night, the next the next night, and so on until one project grabbed fully ahold of me and wouldn’t let go. So, I began to write exclusively on the way project and let the two others sit quietly (well, for the most part) in the background until I good devote energy to one or both of them. The urban fantasy won out this time, and the third project will have to wait until some later date. I also don’t think I fully know my characters until at least the third draft of a project. Ha!

Cynthia Reese said...

I do a lot of prep work, at least mentally, on my writing projects. I can't write until I have the first scene outlined in my head, until the synopsis is done, until I have the characters' names right.

Why, yes, I am a little anal! :p

Claire Dawn said...

Don't you just hate it when that happens. You've got a theme and a pitch, but no idea of any of the details?

Good luck!

Elana Johnson said...

I can't keep words in my head. When a scene pops in, I write it out. I have too much other crap in there, and if I don't write out the words, I forget them.

Ideas, on the other hand, are different. If an idea sticks around for a while, I know it's a good one. The bad ones get forgotten -- and good riddance!