Okay, it feels like it's been forever since I did any talking on here. Tomorrow we'll be back to continue our very loose conversation about first drafts. We'll talk about the benefits of having a designated writing time and place. Other upcoming topics are writing in scenes, how long manuscripts should be, and when you should consider letting others read what you've written.
Stories germinate best when I’m tired or lying around in that half-wake/half-sleep state. When they grow into full characters with missions and problems, then I begin to take note. Here’s what I do to get their tales from my sleepy brain onto paper. . .
1. Interview the characters (I like to use The Complete Writer’s Guide to Heroes and Heroines by Tami D. Cowden). We discuss their likes, dislikes, quirks, family relationships and how that’s impacted their outlook on life. What types of people they get along with best and who they just can’t stand. What they dream of becoming when they grow up and what drives them to get there. When we’re done, notes from our interview are scattered on pages of OneNote so I can pull together a style sheet (a page containing each characters traits, setting information, and any other quirks that are special to one’s work-in-progress).
2. With each character outlined, I determine the main character’s known goal (what do they think they need to accomplish or overcome) and their real goal (what they’ll actually accomplish or overcome). I use a worksheet that walks through the four acts of a good story to help me plot the rest of the tale.
3. Each scene is sketched by identifying three points:
a. A want or need of the mc
b. The obstacles that prevent the mc from getting what they want
c. And the decision or action the mc takes to get around/through the obstacle. This decision should lead into the next need. (I picked this up from Immediate Fiction by Jerry Cleaver).
4. By now, I should have a pretty strong outline, so the fun can begin. It’s time to write the story. It’s always messy at first, but I’m okay with that. Edits and polishing come later.
5. Once the first draft is complete, the story receives its first round of edits looking for weak verbs, too many adjectives/adverbs, sloppy grammar, wimpy characters, and slow beginnings among many other things. I like to work the mess out of my beginnings. They’re my favorite part.
6. Then it’s off to my critique partners for another round of edits. And then another. And another. And another.