Monday, September 16, 2013

Thinking on the Page

My writing process (part 1)

I don’t know, but I suspect a lot of writers are like this – whatever ideas and characters are swirling around in my head, they’re never defined until they leave my mind, travel through my fingers and onto a blank page.  I mean there’s a kind of alchemy that occurs.  The thoughts in my head are nebulous, vague – it’s in the process of getting them down into actual words that the circuit completes and the ideas and the characters become whole. 

That’s the power of words to crystalize meaning, like a quantum wave collapsing into reality.  And it’s beautiful.  But that’s why I believe it’s so important for a writer (for me at least) to spend plenty of time just sitting and writing.

So when I’m developing an idea, I make notes to give actual form to the thoughts in my head, and eventually the premise expands and the main characters become real to me.  And I know when it’s time to start writing the story because I’ve just started writing it – I start thinking about how the book begins, and I discover the answer as I write the first scene.

The nature of that scene dictates where it should end.  Then I think about what comes next, but I don’t start writing until what’s happening is so interesting that I can’t help but want to get it down in words.  The next scene must be what’s vital to continuing the story.  It’s as boring to write filler as it is to read it – or more so – therefore I skip ahead to what I’ll really enjoy writing and hope that you’ll find it half as fun to read.

As I write, I discover who the main characters are, why they’re doing what they do, and what they’re really made of.  Brand new characters pop up and introduce themselves (where did that person come from?) and I start getting to know them as well.

Following these people on their journey drives me to scene after scene, until those characters get where they’ve been going (at least for now) and the story has reached its proper (and hopefully satisfying) end.  And I’ll have had as much fun finding out how the story ends as if I were reading someone else’s book.

Continue to Part 2

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