Back at the beginning again

Since this blog began, I’ve been working rather obsessively on “the Book of Day”. I really expected to be burned out after the last novel, but alas, the muse had different ideas. It’s exciting being at the beginning of something new again. 

Starting on a new project, has taken the edge off my worries about the last novel. It’s set in a completely different world, and I really needed a break from that other headspace. It’s been recharging more than anything. So far, I’ve found nothing that combats my writer’s insecurity better than getting lost in the creative parts of the process.

This part of the process involves a whole lot of brainstorming and questions without answers. I love it. So far this is how’s its been going…

I started with the characters. I wrote out bits of their profiles and characteristics in a notebook, along with worldbuildg notes. This time I’m actually organized! It’s all going into ONE notebook, instead of a hundred pieces of scrap paper. I’ve been carrying the little notebook around with me everywhere. I’m afraid I’m going to run out of pages though.

I have an end in mind for the story, and know the rough shape it will take, so I’ve jotted down all scenes that I want to include in a random order on sheets of paper, then I cut apart all the scenes with scissors. I’m a visual organizer, so I like to lay everything out on my mattress  (not enough floor space hehe) to see the holes between the scenes and the logical order things need to take. Then I grouped some of these scenes into chapters. I know some writing software allows you to do this as well, but I do enjoy the physical act, and seeing everything at a glance. I’ve got about 50% of the novel plotted scene by scene, though not in order.

Now, I need to do some more brainstorming. I usually either jot down notes on my private idea blog, or on scrap pieces of paper just to see what will come of them. I will chase a particular trains of thoght down a road until it hits a snag, or I find that it fits. I discard a lot.  Mostly I ask questions. Why would these people stay together? What is this character most afraid of? 

And… more often than not, the subconcious/muse gets to work on those questions. If I sleep on a question, I’ll usually have an answer by the next day, or at worse later in the week. Have you ever done that? I reccomend you try it. Trust the process, and the subconcious 😉 It’s working even when we aren’t focusing. Sometimes I end up with more questions, but that’s fine. I find that asking the right questions can be just as important than the answers.

So that’s where I’m at, no writing yet but lots of toying with ideas. Things are shaping up quickly this time, and I’m relieved. I know, at least on a basic level, what I need to get through the first draft of “The Golden Thread”. So far so good!

How’s your writing going? How do you begin a new project?

15 Comments to “Back at the beginning again”

  1. Yes, asking questions is a big part of the process. I’ve been taking a scatter-shot approach to “Book of M”. I’ve been writing notes in my notebook when I’m one place or another… at home I mostly turn to my electronic project bible (using a desktop wiki-like platform). In my notebook I usually put thoughts I’m having about something very specific – usually a plot or background issue. As I’ve worked on the project bible, meanwhile, I’ve been hitting a variety of topics – a few spare notes on languages, the beginning of an article on history or a region, a paragraph on each of several characters.

    One thing there typically leads to another – as I’m writing one article of background notes, I find that I need to understand some other, related background thing better to finish it, so I go off and write that bit of background next. But it’s slow going, because my writing speed overall is not particularly fast right now. I think I have a total of maybe 6 or 7,000 words in background notes, so far, and each little piece is pretty thin.

    Currently, I’m working out the details of the magic system, which is the area where I’ve started making some surprising and exciting new developments. After this week, that’ll probably be the most fully fleshed-out bit of background I’ve got yet on this project. Which is good, because it underlies a lot of the rest of the background and plot, as it turns out.

    1. T. S. Bazelli Author

      That’s a lot of background notes! I think I hold most of the ideas in my head rather than on paper when it comes to background/world stuff. I rarely look at it once I write it down.

      I hope you share some details of that magic system. I’m not particularly good at that kind of thing and have tried to avoid it for the most part. Really not much of a world builder 🙂

      1. I’m sure to offer some hints and tidbits over time, as I get more of this thing nailed down. I’ll probably share some detail about the magic system as part of that… But I’ll want to have something actually written first, because right now it’s all idea and no execution.

        And of course… ye olde beta readers will have even more detail. But that’s putting the cart before the horse, I suppose, there won’t be anything to read for most of a year, yet…

      2. T. S. Bazelli Author

        Yes indeed, its just the beginning 🙂 I changed a lot between drafts, so even had I written about world specifics, it would not have been the same by the end. Some people have a more solid process though. I envy that hehe.

  2. I used to make no notes at all. Just start with a scene and go from there. That’s how I wrote my second novel. I talked about the process on my blog (long before I’d ever heard the term “pantser,” at least in this connection):

    When writing mysteries, though (my first novel, and the stories I’m working on now), I find I do have to plan a bit in advance or the mystery won’t resolve. I believe that Rex Stout, who wrote the Nero Wolfe mysteries, wrote with no plan at all, but I’m more cautious than that.

    1. T. S. Bazelli Author

      I mostly pantsed through the first novel. I knew the end, and a couple scenes, but that was all. I think a mystery would definitely be harder to pants through. I’m always amazed at how many clues are dropped through a mystery, leading the reader through different tangents. I can’t imagine them not being planned at least a little.

      1. Of course, all the pantsing may be why my second novel, if put in book form, would be really long (something like 700 or 800 pages, I forget). A friend (an English literature professor) read it and said it was “too much like life.” I thought that was both something to be proud of and something to work on.

        As for mysteries, different writers have handled that differently. One extreme is probably the “fair play” mysteries, like the early Ellery Queen books, where at a certain point there is a Challenge to the Reader, saying, “Ellery has all the clues, and you know everything he knows. Who did it?” (This was even carried through on the 1970s TV show, where Jim Hutton, playing Ellery, would turn and address the audience near the end, basically saying the same thing: You know what I know. Who did it?)

        And the Queen books were definitely not pantsed, BTW, since “Ellery Queen” was a collaboration, and one man plotted the whole thing out, and then passed it to the other man to write.

        Other writers handle that very differently, but I agree that (at least in my experience) a certain amount of planning is necessary.

  3. Sounds like you’ve got a lot of good stuff going on!

    I don’t want to ramble on about my process, particularly since I don’t think I have one yet. I mean, it’s too early to tell. I do try to get the milestones down, just to have something to write toward. And now I use Scrivener, which allows me to organize visually-but-digitally, and I heart it. 🙂

    1. Hehe I’m sure my process, whatever it is, will continue to change. This is just what I’ve tried this time. Oh Scrivener! Weren’t you going to write a post on how you’ve been liking that? I am tempted to get it since so many people swear by it.

  4. Heh. I think that if my subconscious could write on its own, I’d consider hiring it as my ghostwriter! Haha. But it already does enough work overtime, methinks, especially when I’m sleeping so it might not like the idea of working two jobs…

    Sounds exciting, moving on to a new idea! Can’t wait to hear more about it in the future. 🙂

    As for me, this week is proving tough to get stuff done, so I’m sure this weekend I’ll have to work on the story some–even though I was planning to only work on it on weekdays… Still, some progress is being made. Needless words cut, lifeless words rejuvenated, etc.

    1. LOL I wish I could hire my subconcious to write!

      Yeah I noticed that on twitter, but some weeks are always better than others. Editing’s a slog… but you’ll get through it 🙂

  5. That’s great that you’ve managed to jump straight back into the process – it must have been tempting to just walk away and never pick up pen again or at least take a prolonged sabbatical! I’m also incredibly envious of you being at the beginning of a new journey, who knows what sort of a story you’re going to discover and carve out?

    I also can’t blame for you wanting to do something fresh and different – author’s who continuously write in the same setting about the same character puzzle me. Surely they must get bored?

    Personally I’ve got a couple of new ideas sitting on the back burner, the excitement of the new and the unknown sometimes tempts me to just ditch the current novel. The road is long though and I’m sure it’ll all be worth in the end. Till then I just satisfy myself with wondering what the Golden Thread’s going to be like!

    1. Those new ideas start to look more and more promising the closer you get to finishing the novel. It was very tempting to drop everything and start something new. I hope your editing is going well, and that you don’t ditch it prematurely. The new ideas can wait! Then, maybe you’ll have an entirely new novel waiting for you once you’re done with your current one 😉

  6. Eric W

    >>Back at the beginning
    >>So that’s where I’m at, no writing yet but lots of toying with ideas.

    That’s where I’ve been for months, maybe even years! (I’ve lost track)

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