One of the Facebook pages I follow, Novel Encounters, is about several historical romance novelists. (I only read historical romances. I’m still working on writing one that popped into my head, which of course doesn’t fit any historical period I know of. Maybe if I call it a historical fantasy romance adventure…) This week they were asked to describe their writing process, and since all of them are different, it has been fascinating to see how they think and create and do the practical details of bringing their stories out of their brains and onto a published manuscript. It got me to wondering just how I would describe how I create.
This is how it usually begins:
I do mental movies of novels. I write a few chapters. Then I go do something else, usually another mental movie of a different story. I come back, read what I’ve written, vaguely feel there’s something not quite right, put it back and run through the movie in my head and discover much has been left on the cutting room floor and many scenes added.
I start thinking in scenes, detailing them in my mind. I think, maybe I should make a note, then it might not change. Now I have a general – well, not outline, really, but mostly a time line of actions and conversations – and as I look closer at each scene, I begin wondering about details like landscape, environment, odors, temperature, what side characters are doing while the main characters are busy at the front of the stage, clothing, food, shelter, etc.
I then begin to look at early scenes and wonder if they should become backstory instead. For example, mentally, I have had several stories begin at the birth or in one case, the rape conception of the main character. Then as the story developed, I began to think it might be better as backstory to be mentioned casually in a conversation between characters. Suddenly what was becoming a very long timeline of scenes shortens and I begin to feel the story is workable. Crazed sessions of unstoppable typing ensue.
That is how my novels begin. My short stories come from somewhere I’ve never been able to track down. For all I know, God just puts them there. Many times I finish typing and have to read them over to figure out what I wrote. My two collections in print and ebook right now, Once Upon a Christmastime and Standing Next to a Miracle, are like that. I have a third collection to be titled Angels With Attitude, just about ready to go. Of course, I’ve been saying that since 2014, I just discovered. Sheesh!
I am going to try the Scrivener program since it seems to use many of the methods I do for setting out a story idea. I have heard some published authors can’t stand it, others just love it. I’ll let you know how it goes. In the meantime, I’ll go work on that collection of short stories and try to get them out.