First off thanks to Shallee for hosting this creative blogfest. If you haven't checked out her blog yet please do.
I'm a newbie. REAL newbie. Like still screaming from the hospital newbie so please bear with me on my process. As a new writer I know that through the coming years I will change and swap and totally screw up my writing process. For right now I seem to have one that works well for me. I can only take you through the first draft since I have not yet had the wonderful experience of revision.
When I started writing I took an online writing course to help show me the way. One of the first things I learned was making a sweet spot map or SSM. That's where we'll start.
I have several sheets of paper, all with a different list. "I love....", "I hate....", "I fear...". On each one I list various things under the title. I spin off from one thing to another. "I Love....statues, angel statues, mazes, cemeteries, wind, creaking trees, moss, lakes, dragonflies and so on. With these sheets I can find any number of ideas for stories. But let's rewind a bit.
The first thing I do is figure out what sort of story my muse wants to tell. Horror. Paranormal Romance. Fantasy. Let's pick Horror for an example.
Then I go to my SSM (sweet spot map) . I go to my "I fear" page. Kidnapping is high on the list along with being buried alive. Maybe I'm feeling an idea take shape about being kidnapped and buried alive.
Now I need to make a sentence to sum up my idea. This is where I let my muse run free with several different avenues. I think of a couple sentences and write them down and pick one to go with.
1. A serial killer is burying his victims alive and the only person who can stop him is the one who got away.
2. Young girls are turning up dead and the only clue is the rare soil caked around their mouths.
Neither one of these are very good but I can now pull down more ideas for where I want this story to go. I pick one of the sentences and pull out my notebooks and index cards. I'll go through several ideas until I get one that feels right. Normally by now I have a feeling for the beginning and the middle. The end is just a murky shell. I do a lot of "what if's".
What if the story is being told by the killer?
What is the girls come back as zombies?
What if the one who escapes becomes a partner in crime?
And then I swap the answers and do a little more "what if's".
Now I need characters. Who would do this? Who could stop them? Who has the most to lose? I know HOW I want to characters to end up but not how they get there. I don't put too much pre-planing into my characters. I like them to evolve on their own. I get the basics like what makes them tick. What do they want in life? What makes them angry?
HUGE WAIT A MINUTE HERE: Sometimes I have a character and no story. BUT this is rare for me. I then build my story around my character. Example I have a princess space pirate that won't leave me alone so I work on that one in my head. Like I said I'm still evolving.
Next I think of some scenes I just HAVE to write and put a rough sentence on an index card for each scene. I try for around 30 scenes at this point. Some of these will disappear before I even get to them. Some will morph into more scenes.
Then I write. I pick a scene and go. After I get all my favorite scenes I go to the beginning of the story and write from there to the end. Filling in where I have gaps and thinning out when I am overloaded. Since I haven't reached revision yet this is where I stop.
Here are several pieces of advice I have gotten that I keep telling myself.
1. There is NOTHING that can't be fixed in revision.
2. You can't fix what you don't finish. SO WRITE!!
3. EVERY writer has a rough first draft. Some are slightly scarred while other are big steaming piles of ..er.. mud. Most writers just don't want to tell you that.
My writing process is kinda skimpy right now but I can't wait to hear all the others. Happy Writing.