How do I come up with my characters and plots, you might ask.
Sometimes, a character’s personality might be sparked by some quality or quirk about myself or someone that I know. The majority of the time though, the characters just roll out of my head as I’m creating the story. To understand that, let me take you behind the scenes of my writing.
I have a list of story ideas that I keep on the go, but the ones that really stand out for me are the ones I can’t keep on a list. They are the ones that fall out of my brain and onto the screen. The idea might be born from an experience, a dream, a passing thought, or even the combination of words I might hear or read somewhere. If it’s something that ignites a fire in me, I start writing it immediately. I usually won’t know how to story is going to evolve or end, nor will I know what characters are going to float in and out of it.
Everything that happens in the stories I write, happen as I write them.
Except for my current WIP (work in progress).
My debut novel, Well Hidden Secrets (publishing date TBD) was written just as I described above. In fact, the ending is a twist that even I didn’t know about until it happened. I had written about half of the story before I knew how I wanted it to end, so I wrote the ending and then went back to the middle to work on how to join it together. This resulted in the creation of a new minor yet essential character, critical to how the story unfolds. I was beyond excited at how it all came together.
As Well Hidden Secrets (WHS) is now in the beta reading stage, soon to be polished and submitted for publishing (another part of the process that will probably take a while!), I decided I should relax for a bit. But that would not happen – no, no! My brain was eager to continue writing, and one afternoon last week, I suddenly had a very general, yet exciting way to piece together my next novel. I had no idea what the actual story was going to be about, but I knew it had to have my star character from WHS. (Yes, that’s right – it’s going to be a series!)
I began to craft a very crude outline of how the story would be written, and as I was typing, the plot flew out through my fingertips. Within a couple of hours, I had whipped together a 3000 word plot outline as easily as whipping up a batch of oatmeal chocolate-chip cookies. Main characters, setting, time periods – it was all laid out in front of me. All I had to do was start writing to develop scenes and characters and locations.
Far too excited to let this sit on the back burner, I got straight to work and I couldn’t be happier. This is what I do. I write. I research as I go, as the story is born and characters develop and mysteries unfold. It’s hard for me to see my characters or the story itself unless I get to the writing of it – and the more I write, the more I know my characters. It’s like they are the ones telling the story; I am merely a vessel, carrying them to their home on the paper (or screen!). And as I write, I see it all playing out in my mind like a movie on a big screen (wouldn’t that be something!)
This is why I love writing so much. The creativity is boundless. The sky is the limit, they say. I say, however, that it doesn’t stop there. There are endless directions to go when you’re writing a work of fiction. There is no wrong or right – there is just write.
Getting to this point in my life is like a breath of fresh air. I absolutely love it – and I hope that you will, too!
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