It’s just an idea, a concept….maybe a single scene, a hint of something I hope would make a good story but am entirely not sure.
So how do you take that glimmer of an image and make it into a fully fleshed out story?
Well, the answer is usually a heck of a lot of work.
I spend *a ton* of time commuting, so this is where I do a lot of my plotting and fleshing out. I start to imagine the scene or the world…character names become very important here. If a character doesn’t tell me their name I’m bound to obsess until I find the right one.
I’m a “detailer” and I will spend hours world-building while commuting. (Yes, I plot and drive. I need a bumper sticker to warn other drivers.)
Sometimes a story comes to me easily and I’ll write everything down so I can save it for later—99% of my ideas come when I’m not in a place to work on it. Some of these are complete plot outlines; usually it’s just a few paragraphs, maybe a character description, or concept page.
I do have a “to be written” pile. Yes, I get distracted by stories and work on projects when I “shouldn’t” but I’m usually good about working on them for only a certain amount of time as a “break” then returning to the task at hand. Usually.
Innocent Darkness was one of those stories where I had an image and a concept, came up with a whole plot, complete with character names, wrote down a summary, and saved it for later. My MG Elfpunk was another.
But those are exceptions, not rules.
Usually, when I start a story—like the Super Sekrit Project—I only know what’s happening in the first few scenes,
I don’t use sticky notes or charts or white boards. For me it’s my imagination and BICHOK (butt in chair hands on keyboard) or, if you will, plug computer into brain, push “download.”
When I don’t know where a story goes, or what happens next, writer friends (and betas) can be very handy. You can bounce ideas off them while trying to figure out how to get from point A to point B and still have the story make sense.
Even when I know exactly where the story will go, my stories tend to grow and change as I write—evolve if you will.
My MG is so much more than the very simple one-page summary indicates.
And Innocent Darkness? Well, let’s just say it wasn’t called Innocent Darkness – nor was it Steampunk. That happened all on the fly while writing and Steampunking the story changed *a lot* of stuff.
I usually keep lists of things to add and change once I finish my first draft. That way I can keep pushing forward and not stop and go back and fix things. For me it’s all about momentum. I’d rather vomit out a draft then go back and fix things or I’ll get distracted and go work on something else.
Even after the story is written things still change. Characters get removed. Scenes get added. Darlings get killed. Something entire new layers to the story are added after it’s already written.
Oftentimes the end product is *nothing* like the original idea. Nothing.
But in the end is (hopefully) a really good story.
So, how do you get from idea to book? Do you work on a new idea as soon as you can or do you wait until you’re “free” to start a new project?