Thinking About… Stuff… and Things – My Writing Process Part 1

Welcome to part one of my wacky writing process. Thinking about stuff… and things is a very important and technical part of every writer’s process… probably… maybe. Brainstorming might be the technical term for it, but I like to stab technical terms with a rusty spoon! The real first step for me is to get inspired which is mostly about keeping yourself open to be inspired. It is the spark that could originate from anywhere or anything. The example I am going to use is an idea that was sparked by a song I heard once on Pandora. The song was Secret by The Pierces. I will continue to use this story as the example for my writing process blog posts going forward. You can watch the video below.

This gave me an idea for a story based on a girl that doesn’t have any friends. She is new to the school and has been isolated for months, and then a new girl joins her class. They become best friends, but don’t have any other friends. Her new friend has a secret though. So what kind of secret does she have? The secret will be an important focal point of the story and will also bond the two girls together. I will refrain from giving away spoilers to this story as much as I can which includes keeping this secret.

Now that I have a base to paint this story on, what do I want the overall themes to be? What kind of story do I want to tell? For this one I have chosen a darker theme, one that is about the corruption of a young and mostly innocent girl. I also want this to be a slow burn thriller type of story, so the corruption will come in stages. Perhaps starting with cursing, then pranks, then cruelty to animals, then move on to revenge on those who reject them, and so on and on gradually escalating. This gradual build up will fill the middle pages of the novel in a way that will build up to the ending.

Most of my writing revolves around the motivations and wills of the characters involved. Sometimes they surprise me, but more often than not I know my characters well enough to see any obstacles to the story I am beginning. So who are these girls and what do they want? The girl wants companionship and a friend. Perhaps her parents won’t allow her any pets. Are they disciplinarians? or perhaps it is a broken home? I don’t have to decide this now, but it is something that I can begin to think about. How involved are her parents going to be? How involved are any other relatives or friends of the family going to be? The new girl’s motivations are to corrupt this girl for her own nefarious purposes. She also seeks companionship, but she wants to drag the girl down to her level. She has done all of the things she is going to try to get the other girl to do. She wants a kindred spirit that will share in her corruption.

Now I think about all the other characters within this story. Teachers, other kids in school, custodians, the school administration, and other encounters she might have while at school. Does she have any outside of school activities? Maybe piano lessons with Ms Vernor down the street. Family is always important to think about too. Mother, father, siblings, pets, cousins, etc.. Each character will have to be documented and I will have to figure out what kind of role they have in the main character’s life. Make a list because the next step will make use of it.

In this initial stage I am thinking about all of the exciting possibilities and what I could potentially have in this idea for a novel. I would encourage you to write down every idea that excites you about the story while you are brainstorming because every great idea will float away like a bubble if you don’t write it down before it pops. The temptation to write the actual story instead of just the idea of the story might hit you while brainstorming. I try not to jump in so hastily because I tend to throw out nearly everything I write in this initial phase. Ideas morph and change as needed, so the characters you have in your mind might be completely different by the time you reach the middle. Also if you have no middle then it could be like running into a brick wall when you reach that point of the story. This is why I was unable to finish anything until I came up with this process.

I hope you enjoyed this first installment of the guide to my writing process and to those future authors out there, I hope as this guide is built that there are some tidbits that will help you along the way. Always remember that the writing process is highly subjective, so what works for me might not work for you. The trick is to find what does work for you and cut out any part of the process that doesn’t. In the next part of the guide I will go over building a character sheet for each character. Until next time, *insert catchy tag line here*.