Getting Started


I just got back last night from a weekend out of town, and had lots of fun reading over the RR postings from the last few days! Maybe because I’m just incurably nosy about other people’s lives, I always love reading about how other writers work, how they set up and stick to (or don’t stick to) their schedules, etc.

Like many writers, I am a pantser forced on occasion to be a plotter before my story gets away from me entirely! I start with a short outline, maybe one page (or a full synopsis, if it’s a proposal, though the finished product seldom resembles anything like this synopsis. A synopsis is a horrible thing anyway! Down with the synopsis!). So, I know who my main characters are going to be, where they will be at, and basically what they need to be doing. How to get them from Point A to Point B has gotten a bit easier over time, just from sheer practice. My first manuscript was a total mess, because I just had no clue what to do. Maybe it would be easier, and take less time, and make for a shorter, tighter story, if I could do things like character charts, collages, story boards, chapter-by-chapter outlines, like so many great authors do. But I just don’t have the patience, or the energy. I’m so tired after doing a detailed character outline that I have nothing left for the book, and I have to go take a nap! I just have to be patient with my pantser ways, I guess, and hope my characters help me out, as they so often do.

One question I get a lot, and one I like to ask other writers, is–where do you get your ideas? I always have to say I have no clue. Maybe a movie, another book (non-fiction is great for this), a title, a place, a character that moves in and won’t go away (this happens a lot with secondary characters). Once I got an idea from a piece of material I saw in a fabric store. Lack of ideas is never my problem, they float around in my head all the time. It’s the giving them shape that gives me some trouble. So I ask everyone here–where do you get your ideas??? How do you get started?

About Amanda McCabe/Laurel McKee

Writer (as Amanda McCabe, Laurel McKee, Amanda Carmack), history geek, yoga enthusiast, pet owner!
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