And here we are, to the 4th and finally installment of Corrine Jackson’s How Writers Do It (Bom Chica Bom Bom–yeah, I’m still totally snickering at that title). This week’s topic is Where Stories Come From: From the time you get the idea for a novel to the day you first put your fingers to the keyboard, how does the story come to you? (i.e. Can also explore prepping to write your novel here)
Where do stories comes from?? That’s easy. Two simple words:? my butt.
Yeah, I was just dying to say that—unavoidable consequence of hanging out with a 6-yr-old boy. Sorry. But it’s pretty much true. I mean, prepping? What’s that? Does grabbing a chai latte and booting up my computer count?
I’m a pantser, through and through (although I’m trying to reform. Ask me how well that’s going once I’m halfway through my next novel. And don’t hold your breath.)
As much as I’d love to be different, I’m just not one of those fancy schmancy plotters—you know, those writers with the cute little outlines and the plot boards and highlighters and note cards. My novel ideas typically come to me randomly: while I’m in the shower, while I’m driving (sans kids, of course—the only thing that comes to me when I’m in the car with them is a serious need for Calgon and the Super Nanny). Oh, and hugely, when I’m running. Although I usually can’t write with music on, many, many a scene has been created while running to my favorite songs. Basically, an entire scene pops into my head. I hear the dialogue and feel the emotion, and then, run home to jot it down on paper.
My first novel Tainted was written almost entirely by madly typing out scenes that came to me while running, then piecing them together. And I didn’t even start at the beginning. Nope, I started with a scene about 2/3 of the way in (I think I just heard Laura McMeeking wince all the way from England.)
Seriously, though, I’ve been trying to change. With my WIP, I’ve been pondering things a great deal in my head before plunging recklessly on (I’ve got about 10k right now). It’s really challenging to nail exactly who my MC is, and I want to get it just right. So I’ve been putting her through some mental drills. I have a feeling, though, I’m not *really* going to know what she’s all about until I commit her more to paper. Writing is a pretty organic thing for me.
In Plot and Structure, James Scott Bell talks about both the non-outliners (NOPs) and the outliners (Ops).
Of the NOPs he says:
The joy of being a NOP is that you get to fall in love every day. The heartache comes when you look back and see nothing resembling plot.
Admit it. All you outlining types are gloating just a little right now (and stroking your note cards lovingly—STOP THAT!) But not so fast. Here’s what he has to say about the Ops:
The value of the OP approach is that, with experience, one can virtually guarantee a solidly structured plot. The danger, however, is the lack of freshness and spontaneity the NOPs are known for.
His solution? Try a little of both. Use structure/attention to plot prior to writing, yet give yourself freedom to vary from your outlines or note cards. But whether you’re a NOP or OP, the two things he definitely recommends doing before starting to write your story are:
1) Use the LOCK system to flesh out your story. LOCK stands for Lead, Objective, Confrontation, and Knockout—a set of principles he thinks guides all successful novels.
2) Write the back cover blurb
Hope this was informative helpful didn’t totally put you to sleep! Thanks again to Corrine Jackson for her great prompts on the writing process! Don’t forget to visit her blog and the other 8 writers who posted on this subject. Plus, PRIZES–YAY!
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