Every time that I sit down to write, I learn more about the process of writing. Of course, there’s no “right way” to do this as long as the words get on the page. There are some things writers can do to make the words they write better.
I have a couple irons in the fire right now and I’m letting my latest Sci-Fi manuscript simmer before I take another pass at it, so I thought, why not get this idea I have in my head for a fantasy down on (virtual) paper? And that’s what I did.
In this blog, I’ll share how my latest WIP has developed. My “Writing Trip,” If you will.
Unfolding the Road Map
Before I wrote a single word, I had a good working premise of the story I want to tell. (Based on a really weird dream I had) Since my natural process is to let the story develop organically, I find the best way to that is have the major plot points lined out and then let the characters tell me how they want to get there. With my inciting event, turning point, mid-point, setback, and climax in mind, I had a road map. Now I just needed to know who was driving the car.
CARPOOL LANE ONLY
This MS has a dual POV. It took me a few false starts to get the voice of each character right and more importantly, different from the other, but once I got a good grip on that, it became easier. This story has an astrological theme within it, so it was very easy for me to give the MCs a birthdate then make their personalities mirror traits from their astrological signs. I recommend doing that if you’re stuck for character personalities, even if you don’t have an astrological theme. It’s a great jumping off point when you are just discovering who you’re writing about.
Then I used their back-stories and let the culture they live in inform a lot of their personalities. We’re all products of our upbringings. I instilled a very specific set of beliefs in both of them which helps me when I have to decide how they will react to an event.
Now these two characters come from very different worlds and they each start in their own space, so in a sense, I made it harder on myself because I had to invent not one, but two worlds for them to live in.
GOOGLE 4 MI —>
Research. Boy, did I research. Every day I’m still researching. And every day I find some new juicy tidbit that sparks an idea that I can use in my MS. Frequently I will set out to research some particular fact and find myself closing the browser with some other nugget of information that I didn’t expect or even know existed. I love it when that happens.
For instance, did you know that the ancient Olmec Mayans were the first to process cacao beans and turn them into chocolate? Yep. They also put jalapeno peppers with their chocolate so you can thank them for the frosty nontraditional shake served at Sonic today!
I certainly didn’t set out to find out about Mayan chocolate, but when researching, I discovered this little nugget which will become a hilarious fish-out-of-water scene for one of my characters. How this person reacts to spicy chocolate is going to say quite a bit about the way he/she approaches new things, which shows character development.
So now I’m rocking along at almost halfway through the MS and I know where I need to end up and I know who is driving and I even have a pretty good sense of what snacks they brought for the road. The next thing for me to determine is what their flat tire is going to be.
CAUTION SPEED BUMPS AHEAD
Conflict is the key to writing a compelling story. My MCs are each seeking different goals. They have different desires and different flaws that are inhibiting them getting what they want. I don’t think I’m giving too much away by revealing that their paths will cross and then they will begin to affect each other. I’m enjoying playing with the differences between them, but picking out common threads to weave them together. One of my MC needs external gratification, the other internal, but both of these have to do with their families. One character is bolder therefore gets into some sticky situations sometimes, the other is more reserved and misses a lot because of the fear of acting. The potholes that I choose to throw in their roads are what will determine how they grow and where they end up. I’m using things from my extensive research as the smoking engines that slow them down and force them to make tough decisions.
The things I’ve uncovered in my research have made me excited about this MS. It’s a departure from what I normally write but I think that’s what’s keeping me motivated and writing well over the speed limit.