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Writer’s process…or how my mind controls its creativity, part III: The acceleration into madness.

(Sorry for the delay in getting this out–excuses don’t work anymore, so I won’t give any. Here I am just to spout off again, though, so enjoy.)

I create the story out of simple inspiration, and free write until it scares me that I won’t ever have a true plot point to follow. I decide to jot down an outline, loosely describing for myself the stages the story will progress through. So, what’s next?

I’ve spent a good deal of time to this point thinking of the purpose for the actions of characters, and envisioning them. I’ve become good friends with them: they yell at me often. Once I hit that prior stage of outlining, it’s impressed upon me that I need to finish this work, and so begins the manic writing phase.

With the guidance of the few notes I’ve jotted down, I write almost as freely as I did before, but pauses don’t exist. Deviations do not happen. It is almost like I am on a drug and I need to keep writing to keep the high moving. Unlike the initial writing phase, the “good” or “bad” writing actually matters to me as the story has become complex enough to need to make sense. I am usually up late at night, typing in darkness, listening to some inspirational music, reciting the words as they’re typed out on the screen. Sleep is secondary. My mind is consumed now with where my characters are going. Before, the visions inspired the text. Now, the text inspires the vision. The movie is in my head. The dialogue pops out, the voices are loud and clear, and I feel the adrenaline rush in this stage more than ever before.

I put so much energy into it. I want to talk about it, describe the feelings I am having, but people don’t get it. Part of me doesn’t blame them for this. Part of me does. The passion I pour into the story starts driving me. Nothing else matters. I see an end point that I need to reach, and I need to do it fast.

When I finally come to the conclusive point, I’m emotionally exhausted and sad. I do cry. I do reread the last few pages. I actually type: The End. I let the grief of letting go take over me, and I reluctantly close the document and stand up from the computer. My mind is still engaged in the world on the paper. I haven’t spent many hours away from it, and I miss it like one does an old home. My characters don’t speak to me now. They’re quiet. Not dead, just quiet. They’ve moved elsewhere for a moment, and the lonely feeling overcomes that manic high I was living on just moments before.

Because I’m me (and thus, never shut up and keep going and going and going…), despite the ending of one particular work, the story never ends. I love my characters so much that I know there are further stories to tell, and that I want to tell them. This is why I’ve rarely wrote a standalone work. It’s why I love movies that end up with sequels, and I tend to like spin-offs of tv shows. I enjoy the possibility of different stories, different perspectives, further interaction (even if different) with characters I’ve come to care about. And another part that makes me who I am is that my mind is apt to change, so often my motivation for keeping a story singular ends up with a trilogy simply because I shifted the storyline from one character to another.

Sometimes, I take a break between writing. Sometimes, eager to keep that high, I write for another week or two on a sequel (or prequel), and coast on being stuck in the world before it leaves me.  Often, though, I let it sit. I read. I let a bit of a mourning period go on, and then I start all over. Loving a new time period, engaging in the life of new characters, and spinning around some new ideas in this overactive brain of mine.

Heck, writing this may have confused you more than explaining my process, and perhaps it makes no sense. But, it follow the route I tend to take, and may explain the choices I’ve made in life and the paths I’ve taken as a writer.

 

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Posted by on 07/21/2014 in writing

 

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Writer’s process…or how my mind controls its creativity, part II: Writing for writing’s sake.

Last time, how I think through the inspiration led to me getting to write about something. Today, we talk about what comes next.

I don’t like to take an idea and control it from the start. For me, it stifles any hope of the characters, plot, and personalities to develop. Just because I can see what my female protagonist looks like, sounds like, or how she sits in the world I’m about to put on paper, doesn’t mean I know who she is. I don’t have characters that just appear to me fully revealed. They don’t trust easily. They want to be able to see the relationship to develop between us is worth it before showing me who they are. Outlining at an early stage makes me feel like I’ve put my characters in a certain personality construct, and they get loud when they get locked up. (Did I mention they’re a little like me? Stubborn as hell!)

So, I free write. I don’t know if they’re going to stay good. Maybe just maybe the evil bloke I saw at the beginning starts showing a softer, more vulnerable side. Maybe that character that everyone starts to like decides he feels like doing some really bad things. Heck, maybe the world explodes and they all end up in Central New York mooing at cows (see, just like me!). I want the story to tell me what’s important. I want to get to know my characters, and start to love or hate them the same way I want those reading to.

The best part of this, for me, is that I am constantly motivated to come back to the document I’m writing because the most curious part of me is waiting to see what comes next. The worst part is that when you go to further parts of the process, you sometimes are confronted with the reality that you might not always write some brilliant things.

So, I write. Chapter after chapter, thousands of words, deepening my understanding of current characters, watching new ones pop up. About a third of the way into what would end up the finished product, something changes, and I start changing with it. The mercurial Lauren, always true to her Gemini nature, decides it’s time to do it a little different.

Then, a new sort of fun begins.

This is when I start needing a direction to move in. My mind starts to realize that, like in most things, it can always run away with itself and this writing idea, and if I want any of it to make sense, I must make it make sense.

And so, now, I start to outline. It starts pretty simple. At this point, I can see the end game, even if it’s well off. I’ve started to see that this character loves to leap before looking, the other is too busy being a flirt to pay attention, and the personalities of all the others have developed to the point I start feeling they’re real people telling me their story. I know what sort they are; now, I just need to know where they’re going.

I plot out the plot as loosely as possible to allow for creativity to still flourish. I get nervous if I don’t know the story has a point. I also like that these ideas developed in the outlining lead on to bigger and better plot ideas. More often than not, the outline leads to future book ideas, and then I start overwhelming myself with the history involved.

During this outlining period, I’m still writing. However, now I feel like I’ve an actual purpose with it. I’m more determined than ever to have a productive output, and I feel rather manic. The ideas start pouring in because I know the structure they’ll be contained in is there. I also know that, as the architect, I’m still able to manipulate as the characters and stories need.

I’m probably my happiest, most productive, and best in this stage. I’m always that mercurial sort mentioned above. I do love being in control…and losing it. It’s so very hard to decide what I think on so many things because of this, the least of which is writing.

But, to where do I go after the outline?

 
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Posted by on 12/13/2013 in blogging, writing

 

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Writer’s process…or how my mind controls its creativity, part I: The Idea.

If there’s one thing to learn from being around creative types, it’s that there is no one way to achieve an end. There is no real “right” process to making something happen. It just is what it is. Sometimes, it works for you. Sometimes, you have to play with it as you change and grow. Sometimes, it’s an utter crapshoot and you hate every moment of it, even if the end result is beauty. But, there is never just one way to do it.

One of my friends posted about his process in a blog entry, and I read it, understanding every step of it, and responded in the comments with a brief description of my own. But, even though I thought I was reflecting on my own attempts to create something from a blank page, I realized I barely scraped the surface of how I work.

As a person who has always been driven by her imagination, I end up with a lot of ideas. I’m never short of them. I always tell people that my brain never shuts up. It has an opinion: right, wrong, even hardly thought out. It has a vivid show to give: I’m pretty sure I think in color all the time. It’s just always on. I often lack sleep, especially if I have decided that, five minutes before hitting the pillow, this awesome movie needs to play, all inside a head that really, really needs some shut-eye.

I used to call these ideas visions, mostly because I felt they were coming from some external source. I even wrote a poem about how these ideas hit, and they may not make sense. I might be out at a bar with friends, and this amazing scene just plays inside, and I have to fight the urge to just expound upon it while attempting to be social. I might be sitting by a lake or ocean, watching waves lap the shore, and see a female detective sitting in an office, interrupted by her male assistant who informs her some new client is outside, waiting to hire her for the next big case.

Some writers like to carry a little notebook around to jot down these ideas so they can work through them after the first insight to story greatness shows up. I was blessed with a pretty good memory, and I tend to hold on to my ideas as if they were my greatest treasure. I don’t carry a notebook. I just carry the idea with me until I can play with it.

So, let’s get to that play. Some writers like to outline and plan everything. Some free write, planning to edit and smooth out the story later. Me? I like to do both, and not always in some sense of order.

Let’s take that fantasy novel I sometimes mention. The idea for it actually came from another piece of writing I did. I think it was the first time I inspired a story from another story. During college, I had to write a senior thesis, and I wrote a presentation that was poetry and prose combined. Don’t worry; It wasn’t as confusing as it sounds. I was even complemented by one of my professors on my proficiency to mix the two without being awkward. When I decided to dip deep into a fantasy work, I decided to pick out the female protagonist from this thesis and rewrite her story.

At this time, I wrote every bit of prose in third person. I wasn’t confident I could drive an entire plot from the viewpoint of one character, but with the encouragement and urging of a dear writing friend, I picked this idea, already popping those movies into my head at the most awkward of times, to explore it.

So, I had a protagonist, I had a basic plot, and plenty of visions dancing in my head. I knew the tone I wanted to write in. I wrote.

 
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Posted by on 11/15/2013 in Uncategorized

 

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