Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Next Big Thing, or Starting a New Project

So, here I am, NaNoWriMo over, and as a result, I am caught up on my 1 Story a Week project. So, currently, I have no pressing writing deadlines, no projects in the work. So, of course, I am going mad. I need a project to work on. Don’t get me wrong, it’s been nice to have a few days off, but I’ve been writing almost every day for nearly a full year now, and it starts to itch at me that I’m not writing. So, that means it’s time to start a new project.

Before I get into the actual starting, let me back up a few steps.

Obviously, before starting a new novel or story or whatever, I need an idea. I’m not going to get into how to get an idea, that’s a subject that would require it’s own post. Maybe something I’ll do later. Usually, though, I get ideas from all over the place, and sometimes at places and times I’m not expecting. So, I carry around an idea journal, just so I can write the idea down. This prevents me from saying, “Man, what was that idea? It was awesome, but I can’t remember it!” later.

Once I have the idea, I enter what some people call Step 0, and what I call the Daydreaming Stage. This is where I let the idea percolate in my brain, and will literally daydream about it. I take notes on particularly interesting bits, so I have those later. This stage includes all kinds of things, too, like world building, characters, bits of dialogue, settings… I’ve even had the history of a magic sword pop up in daydreaming for a story, something that never made it into that particular story. But, it was nice to have the notes for my own reference, in case it was important for the story.

The length of time needed for daydreaming a particular story varies greatly. Some ideas only percolate for a few days, while others will sit in my brain for years. Also, I generally have more than one story idea roaming around in my brain at one time, so daydreaming may be going on for various stories at one time. And this is a good thing, because some times I realize that two story ideas work better together. Or maybe a particular setting element from Story A works fantastic in Story B, so I add it there too.

At some point, however, the daydreaming has gone as far as it can, and its time to start doing the actual writing. Now, I’m not strictly an outliner, I do prefer a little seat of my pants writing, or as one of my favorite podcast’s calls it, “discovery writing.” However, I have discovered that my writing is FAR better when I outline. So, I start there, with some outlining.

A few years back, I discovered a method of outlining for a novel called the Snowflake Method. If you don’t know what this is, go check it out at It’s awesome, and well worth the time. I’ve used it at least up to step 6 twice now, and have written fantastic stories that would have been total messes in their first drafts, including this years NaNoWriMo novel. I’m planning on using the total method for this current novel I’m going to be working on. More on that project in another post. So, I spend a month or two outlining. Maybe longer this time around, as I’m not working under a deadline. I want to do this novel right, so I’m not going to rush myself. We’ll see. At any rate, I start outlining.

While outlining, things will change, other ideas will pop into my head, and the daydreaming will begin anew. So, I keep taking notes, adjust my outline and keep moving forward. The key for me to remember here is that this is all part of the creative processes. It’s all writing, and most importantly, it’s all fun. Because for me, it is fun. I am working towards my end goal, a new novel, and I still get to daydream.

And when I get done with the outlining, I have enough material to do the actual writing. And as it states on the Snowflake Method page, this is where the real fun begins. Because while my notes and outline may say “the heroes fight and defeat a massive red dragon named Morgoleth, who posses the magic sword they need to defeat the Evil Overlord,” now is when I get to write HOW they defeat Morgoleth.

So, now that I’ve discussed all this, here’s what I am going to do. For the past few weeks, I’ve had two particular novel ideas fighting in my head for me to write them next. Both are fantasy books, one a YA and one an Epic fantasy that my head keeps telling me is a trilogy. We’ll see, but that’s where I’m starting at, a trilogy. At any rate, as of last night, the Epic Fantasy won out, so I’ll be starting on that project, probably in the next few days. The Daydreaming for this novel has been going on in my head in one form or another, off and on, for close to twenty years now, and actually got its start as a Dungeons and Dragons campaign. Of course, this incarnation for it looks far different than that humble, High School beginnings, but the roots are there nonetheless.

So, I think I’ve rambled on enough about the starting process for me. It’s time for me to start with step one of the Snowflake Method for this project, the one sentence description, or as some like to call it, the Elevator Pitch. I may let you all know how that goes. I kind of like the idea of posting the processes of writing this novel as I do it. We’ll see.

So, until more memories of the future come to me, happy writing!

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