That guy? In the picture up there? That’s Sisyphus, who Zeus sentenced to roll a rock up a hill for eternity. That’s what writing feels like.
My process is still evolving; I know eventually I will get that damn rock up there without so much sweat and swearing, but right now, it’s a chore.
First, I get an idea of characters, usually in one of the scenes from the book. For the book I’m working on now, Lessons In Love, I thought of two people who would teach each other, but with a little twist: In my story, the heroine is teaching the hero to be more manly (by teaching him fencing), and the hero is teaching the heroine to be more womanly (by teaching her dancing). I thought it would be fun to figure out why my h/h wouldn’t have already had these skills. Next, I get an idea for what they look like. I can’t seem to write about them unless I have a famous person in mind for their general appearance. For this book, my hero looks like Brad Pitt from Fight Club and Jason Lewis of Sex And The City. My heroine, oddly enough, looks like Marina Sirtis who played Troi on Star Trek: The Next Generation. No, I don’t know why either.
Then I envision the plot unfolding like a laundry line with scenes hanging off them like your socks pinned up by clothespins. I move from clothespin to clothespin, hoping to connect the dots in a cohesive manner. More often than not, my clothespins don’t make much sense, so I have to trim them.
The most recent way I’ve tried to connect my plot (my biggest weakness, since I have a propensity to throw things in along the way, and forget to pick them up again, resulting in a hodge-podge of action) is to write the scenes out on index cards, then lay them out on a table and make sure each scene HAS to be there. The jury’s still out on that method, but it felt right, so I think that might work. We’ll see.
I write, editing as I go, making sure each scene feels right to me before I move on. I come up with new clothespins along the way, which usually gets me into trouble. I hit the important points of conflict, black moment, blacker moment, and final resolution. Then I shred the whole thing when various people point out it doesn’t make sense (see Lessons In Love, above. Sigh). I love editing; it’s so much easier to move words around and tweak things than it is to write a fresh page. Plus I have no sympathy to my prose if it doesn’t belong in the story. I like yanking it, it always makes the story flow more smoothly.
Like most of us here, I don’t think there’s one “right” way to write; I can’t do anything without knowing certain things about the story, but I can start writing without a clue of what’s going to happen. I write with a candle burning, usually, although sometimes I don’t have it. I always have loads of tea around, and when I am in the middle of writing, one part of my brain is always working on the story, even if I am nowhere near the computer.
Thanks for joining us on our “Writer’s Journey” this week. Amanda finishes up tomorrow, and we’re pleased you’re along for the ride.