I have been full-time into writing for about two years now. I thought it made sense to capture how I go about writing. This could be use to me and not just for others who might be interested. These points are not in chronological order as I write them as they come to mind:-
- Observe: I think of story themes all the time. Yes, I do. Being observant to things around you, and all that you see and hear/read about, provides potential for a story line. You see odd characters, hear strange phrases, and notice mannerisms that could fit well into a character in your story.
- Capture: I note my observations, lest I forget them. These need not be elaborate descriptions but are short notes and key words. They act more like prompts to jolt the memory when the time comes to use what I have observed. I might , for instance scribble, “reflections-bald head” and later write of how ” the sun shone down to shine off his bald head. His wife saw the reflections but couldn’t see what he was thinking off.” There is, you will notice, a play on the word “reflections”.
- Organize: At one point of time, I had just one place where all these thoughts and observations were parked. It became incredibly messy in no time. It had important data, some statistics, some quotations and was in general a mixture of the good, the bad and the ugly which had seemed useful when they were first captured. Over time, I have got smarter and I use folders for each of the projects that I am working on. A neat phrase which sits in well in a thriller context has no business being in a place with ideas for a project on improving personal effectiveness. I have found this has helped me unclutter my notes, and my mind!
- Write: All the above are of no use, if I don’t do what I am supposed to, which is to actually get down to writing something. I like to plot story lines first and think of possible plots before actually beginning a fiction project. Yes, there have been many times when I have had to do course correction and sometimes the final story has been quite different from what I first had in mind. But that’s part of the game. Don’t be so rigid as to hang on to what you first thought was a killer idea. You can refine them with time and often you think of better stuff as you get down to writing the story and your characters come alive, as it were.
This is by no means a comprehensive list, nor does it claim to be a mantra for great writing. I am happy with it and it works for me!
I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas.