As a writer, the question I get asked the most is ‘Where do you get your ideas?’. The second most popular question I am asked is ‘Once you have an idea, where do you begin?’. This question is actually a bit more difficult to answer, but I’ll try. Story ideas come to me all of the time. The trick is being patient enough to wait and see if the idea has legs. What I mean is, some ideas come to me like a butterfly, then flit away just as quickly. Then there are the ones that stick, the heroes who won’t stop talking to you, even at three in the morning, that question that hangs in the air, day and night, that I feel compelled to answer. These are the ideas with legs. The ideas that force me to put pen to paper - or more and more often now, fingers to keyboard – and begin writing. These are the ideas that become my works in progress, or WIPs.
Once I’m ready to begin writing, I...heck, I’d love to tell you that I have a series of questions I ask myself or an outline I’ve worked up, but that’s not how it works for me. You see, I’m what they call a pantser – which means I write by the ‘seat of my pants’. That’s right, I don’t have much more than a title (which I can’t seem to begin without), and my hero and heroine’s name. If the idea came to me in the form of a question, which it sometimes does, then I have a bit more. If it came to me in the form of the hero’s voice in my head, nagging me to get on with it and tell his story, then I may only know how it ends. After all, heroes aren’t always prone to tell you how he got himself in the position he’s in, just how he wants that story to end. LOL
But, if the story idea came to me in the form of the opening scene (which is usually how they come to me) then I don’t know much at all. Maybe just what kind of person the hero/heroine is. And that’s when the fun begins for me, the moment I sit down and just begin typing. Letting the story unfold as it may, discovering the events that take the characters from the opening scene to the happily-ever-after. Yup, I just dive right in. No character sketches, outlines, or blurbs. Not until I’m farther into the story – like half way. For me, knowing too much before I begin spoils the fun. A complete outline before I’ve written a single scene, and I’ve lost the excitement, feel as if I’ve already told the story. Odd, I know, but true.
So that’s how I start a WIP. I get an idea stuck in my head, think on it a bit, then take myself and the voices in my head to my laptop and start writing. Does that make me sound a bit unhinged? Probably. However, I believe on some level all writers are…but that’s a different blog post.
"Many people hear voices when no one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up in rooms where they stare at the walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing." ~ Margaret Chittenden
Thanks for reading!