Saturday, February 26, 2011

Saturday Gets Back to Basics

Or: It's 5am when I'm writing this and I can't sleep. Also: This flashlight sucks

I think, if I'm not mistaken, one of the most commonly asked questions from newer writers to more experienced writers is, "How do you write a book?" The simple answer is, "You just do," but that kinda sucks as an answer, doesn't it? So. I was thinking that maybe if I broke down the process of how I wrtie, it might help some of you out there in Frustrated Writer Land.

With me step one is an idea. Usually it's inspired by a dream I've had (but not one my stress nightmares, because in those everyone dies bloody, violent deaths, and that isn't quite what I want to be writing about.) For the sake of this post, let's say I had a dream about the dish that ran away with the spoon.

For those not familiar with this nursery rhyme, it goes:

Hey, diddle diddle, the cat and the fiddle,
The cow jumped over the moon.
The little dog laughed to see such sport,
And the dish ran away with the spoon.

In this case, the dish and spoon running away would probably be the scene I dreamt about. I'd write it down as soon as I woke up, because I do with a lot of my dreams, but it'd get stuck in my head and I wouldn't be able to stop thinking about it. So, I'd wonder. How did they get to that point? Who are they?

(Now, usually, the dish is potrayed as female and the spoon male, but a.) I like to do things differently from other people sometimes and b.) when I think of forks and spoons, forks just seem like boys, so let's just say that in my dream, the spoon was a girl and the dish was a boy.)

Now. We have a main character - the spoon. (Just roll with me here.)

This is step two. There are any number of character profiles and questionaires you can fill out, and while those can be helpful at certain stages, I don't use them at all at this stage. I find that, for me, the best way to develop a character is to dive in and write a few scenes from their POV. (Main characers. Not side characers, because I have trouble head-hopping, so I stick to writing from one MC's point-of view.)

For me, this is also a good way to tell how well I can write in their heads. If an idea isn't ready to be written, the words don't feel right.

This is getting long, so how about we continue it next week? What does the beginning of your writing process look like?

Peace and cookies,