Sorry for the delay in the post. I was up and down the coast and somewhere along the way I forgot to pack my laptop’s charger. I only had about 10 minutes of screen power left last night, and so I only just managed to get up the tiny halfway post. I was also a bit slower to get setup here once back home, but now I’m writing this and all is well in the world.
It’s been a while since I’ve talked about the less technical side of writing—that is, more along the lines of how I come up with my ideas, rather than editing and plot issues. I do believe that I had a few fairly lengthy posts about it when I first started blogging about a year ago, but that was back then, and it seems like this is as good a time as any to return to those points.
When I create (not when everyone does, but me personally) I tend to start with a tiny thought or sentence. The Dreamstate Series launched with the thought that dreams might all be fully real worlds, and that in one lived a scary man with Dark Eyes; From Ash came out of a man named Bear (nothing more, just a man named Bear). From those points I was able to create a world around the initial thread. In the case of Dreamstate it ended up shifting onto Daniel, and the Man with the Dark Eyes became a Brother. I had no grand plot and direction set up when I first started out, just a few random thoughts that became starting points for me to fill in with the rest of the story.
I think a lot of people become paralyzed from the get-go with the thought of trying to set up a book. I’m sure some other folk really do like the process of stringing together a massive world before they even begin to write, but I know that doesn’t work for me. I need to create as I go, if I didn’t, everything would become overwhelming far, far too quickly.
I have ideas (those little threads) for all of my books that I’m going to write in the future, but the details are no where near complete. Most of the time I only figure out the details as I’m writing the story—otherwise I feel like I have no room to improvise and bring about new ideas into the text. The little plot threads form the foundation of the books’ universes, but nothing is fully concrete, and they can be molded and twisted about any time you (or I) see fit. It’s a fluid process, for me, and I feel like a lot of people come at the problem in a very rigid format that ends up becoming too much to manage.
My advice (that I follow every time I write) is to loosen up and go with the flow of the story—let it take you where it wants to go. Listen to your characters and the worlds that you’ve created, and don’t force them into a monstrous predetermined plan; nothing comes out all that well if you force it, worlds need to grow on their own.