|The 4 versions of my brain on new idea|
Last week, I came up with a shiny new idea for another WIP. Sometimes those come from reading a news article, or hearing a folk tale or meeting a person so interesting, I wonder what would happen if that person were in such-or-so a position. This idea simmers for at least a few days while I decide if it's good enough to put any more effort into it.
I ask myself three questions.
1. Where would this story end?
2. What's the main conflict?
3. What kind of person is my main character?
You'll notice I start at the end. Always, always, always. Because if I don't know where I'm going or if it's worthwhile to go there, I have no story.
If the possible answers to these questions have me interested to the point where I'm losing sleep at night and/or waking early to think over plot for an hour or so on a daily basis, I go to the next step: writing my blurb.
The blurb is what sells the idea, whether you're pre-agented or you've already signed.( Check out the 'WIPS in my life' pages for samples of mine. Blurb writing is a whole other post, so I won't go into that here.) The blurb forces you to describe the character, the setting and the stakes in an exciting, concise style. When that's as sexy as you can make it, it's time to get outside opinion.
Before I had an agent, I did that in two places: an agent pitch contest and in a query I sent out to an agent I'd queried before, whom I knew responded quickly. (I don't necessarily recommend this because I knew I'd blow a request. My MS wasn't close to ready but my goal at that time wasn't to sign. It was to hook.) Now I send the blurb to Tricia, who gives a thumb's up or down. If she's not hooked, it's doubtful an editor would be.
Once my blurb is a go, I write the first chapter. Lots of people do more prewriting, such as character sketches, random scenes, etc. but I just dive right in.To a point. When the first chapter is on paper, my characters need places to go. So I write a timeline with entries and the necessary research for each chapter. Before doing this exercise, I was like a lot of writers who gave themselves a set time or word count each day, rather than a plot goal. But without direction, I spent the time doodling or staring at the screen feeling frustrated. Since I write a chapter a day, I don't stop writing until one of two things happens: either my chapter ends with a cliffhanger and an obvious lead-in OR I write a brief paragraph reminding myself of the next day's goals. That way when I sit down later, I don't lose momentum.
So that's my process. What's yours??