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?

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Cara King
16 years ago

Sometimes I get ideas from movies and novels — particularly when I want a character to do something, and he doesn’t. I think, oh, I’d have had him do this! And then this! And then… And pretty soon I have a story.

Sometimes I get ideas from very practical things… The idea for GAMESTER came when I decided to write a new Regency, and pondered on what aspects of Regency life I knew best… Cards of course came to mind, and so I thought, who should play cards? How? Why? etc, and the story just grew.


Megan Frampton
16 years ago

Like you say, I’m never out of ideas–it’s time and skill to execute them that is the problem (I saw a post on a romance site once that said something along the lines of “I have a great romance story, I just need someone to write it.” Well, I thought, so do I! Ideas are not the problem).

Like Meljean said in a reply to my post, I am a pantser with specific scenes as goals. For example, I am working towards a big showdown between the h/h, his potential fiancee, her potential fiance, and a Greek antiquity in my latest WIP. Should happen right before the HEA. Gotta get there, though.

Elena Greene
16 years ago

Kernels of stories are everywhere. I have a file folder full of ideas for future projects. My inner perfectionist hates the first draft process, so what’s hard for me is to pick what to work on next and work at it long enough to warm to the project. I often wish I were not so fearful!


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