All writers work differently. Some are heavily into outlining and plotting; others are completely the opposite and dive in with only the vaguest of ideas of where their story might go (or so they claim). I’m somewhere in the middle.
I’ve talked in previous posts about my process for character development but with most of the cast assembled, the story-telling must begin.
After coming up with the initial idea for a story, I won’t start writing until I have a general idea of the plot: the beginning, a bit of the middle and the end, along with an idea of how that ending will lead into the next book in a series. I’m not a fan of making notes or doing extensive drafting, so all the planning goes on in my mind and through brain storming sessions. Basically, it’s all in my head.
I recall when I was in 8th Grade, our English teacher introduced us to mind mapping. She had us write a story but we had to mind map it first. Now, as far as I can recall, our periods were about half an hour long, so I knew I couldn’t really devote the time I would’ve liked to the story. While working on the mind map, I began to panic a bit thinking that this planning process was taking too long and I still had to write the story, so I wrote some brief ideas before diving into the story. As I was writing, I began having more ideas that weren’t in the mind map (of course the teacher had failed to mention it was ok for that to happen) so I quickly added those ideas to the mind map to make it look like I’d had those ideas the whole time. In short, it was that experience that completely turned me against the idea of plotting and outlining my stories.
Once I’ve written the beginning of the opening chapter and the ending of the last chapter, I start writing the rest of the book using everything I’ve planned so far. As I write, new ideas occur and I incorporate these into the unfolding story until the novel is complete.
After battling with writer’s block in one of the chapters in my first novel, Fire Angel: Genesis, I learned that there was a way out. I realised that it was okay to set aside the parts with which I was having difficulty and come back to them later. I had issues with the beginning of that first book too, so I decided to jump forward in the story to where I had a clearer idea of how to proceed before eventually returning to the start. This is how I developed my writing process of jumping from one random chapter to the next and then filling in the gaps.
It’s a process that has worked for me over the course of every novel I’ve written. If you’re an author, I’d be interested to hear how you craft your novels. Drop me a comment below.