Welcome to my new feature here at A Daydreamer’s Thoughts where I am going to write about how I do certain things. The idea is that they’re a little bit like “How To” posts but instead of telling you how to do things, I’m just going to explain what I do in the hopes that it might help you – but of course, if you think there’s an easier way to do what I do, do tell me!
So, here’s just a few topics I’m hoping to cover with this series;
How I… Organise E-mails
How I… Come up with and write Blog Posts
How I… Approach Publishers and Authors
How I… Organise and Schedule my Blog
How I… Share my Posts via Social Media
If there’s another topic you’d like to hear about, do let me know in the comments or on twitter!
How I… Write
So to start this series off, I thought I would share with you all how I write, or rather, how I get that initial bit of inspiration to then create an entire novel from nothing. It’s a question I often ask other authors; where did your initial inspiration come from?
For some people they have a “what if” moment and then they just simply have to write the book. Some people have a character form in their mind and then create a story for them to fall into. Some people have something that they want to say, share or portray.
But for me, my initial inspiration always comes with a scene. A scene that flickers into my brain. I get them a lot. A little snippet of something random. Sometimes it’s an image of someone bending down to pick up a bloodied knife, or someone dancing in the rain or someone driving a car through the countryside with the sun in the sky and the wind blowing. These scenes happen to me all over the place and often I give them a little smile before sending them on their way again.
Daydreaming. That’s what I used to call it. I’d just have a little daydream of another place, time, person.
And then sometimes one of those many scenes will speak to me. It’ll force me to look a little further. Maybe when the person picks up the bloodied knife, I notice a locket on the grass beside it. A part of my brain then starts questioning why their is a knife covered in blood next to a locket. And it starts to fill in the answers. There’s been a fight. The locket was a treasured possession, belonging to someone who is now dead. Pulled free during the fight, off of the main character’s neck. He’s not dead. He’s curled up in a ball, too afraid to move. Hidden. The person picking up the knife is a stranger. But they’re there to help.
As you can see, the scene unfolds bit by bit. And then I learn more about the characters. Why they’re there, where they were before and essentially, where they’re headed next. And a plot starts to slowly unfold as a story starts to write itself in my brain until I can finally put pen to paper or fingers to keys to write.
But of course, this is usually just how a story starts. But I can also have these little scenes when I’m in the middle of writing too. I then try to see if I can fit it into the story I’m already writing. This isn’t always the case but often it works and can sometimes be that small little bit of inspiration or twist that I need to make the book that much better.
Fleshing Out the Story
Once I’ve had that initial flash and further exploration, I then sit down and work out the nuts and bolts of the story – but only vaguely. I work out who the characters are. Their backgrounds, their motives, their quirks. I get to know them as though they were my best friends. I want to understand them and to truly know what makes them tick and what doesn’t. And then I come up with what plot twists would work best for them, what journey to take them on and what I think might happen on the way.
And then I sit down and I write.
I vaguely plan but I don’t really plan. I have an outline, a few major moments I want to happen and then I just let my imagination take me away.
Which is how my story sometimes goes completely off course. In one of my stories, the best thing that ever happened was that one of my characters told me quite distinctly that a) he was not gay as he very much liked the female protagonist, and b) that he did not think the main protagonist should die. (Yes, I realise that a character talking to me sounds very odd, and probably like I may need medication, but I promise I am incredibly sane – well, mostly.) Thus I looked at the plot and changed a few things, tweaked a few bits and suddenly my book looked a lot different but also, a lot better.
This also means that some major scenes will never get written but that new ones will crop up too. It sometimes means that new characters are created that I have to really sit down and think about as well. It also means that I have to start at the beginning of a book because I am never one hundred percent sure about where the book will end.
The Editing Process
This is the one thing that I am very bad at doing. After writing the first draft without editing along the way. I put the book down and do something else for a short while. I stop thinking about the book completely and just leave it where it is. Then a month or two later, I return to the book and read through for grammatical errors. I know this seems a bit pointless as the entire plot may get changed but for me it’s a way to read the story again while looking at it with fresh critiquing eyes. By checking it for grammar errors, I treat it as though it is not my work.
Then once I’ve done that, I look at the plot. What I think needs to be changed, added to, etc. I get on with that. Then I send the book to beta readers and force myself not to think about the book anymore. Once again removing it from my mind and working on something else.
Finally, with the feedback I work the story further, more edits, more plot changes, more character development. Whatever is necessary to make it the best book it can be.
So far, I have not got this far. I have one book that needs to be polished and then it can be *gulp* sent to agents but I just need to do the final polish of it. So, if you have any suggestions of how I could find the motivation to do this, do let me know!