Saturday, July 4, 2009

Falling in Love and the WIP


Starting a new project is like falling in love. It's exciting, exasperating, daunting and then comes the knee knocking terror that maybe I'm not going to get it right. That's what beginnings are for. Very rarely does everything line up on the page exactly the way I've envisioned it but these days, I understand that it's the process. I don't panic. Well, not nearly as badly as I used to.

First drafts for me are about getting my plot down on paper and seeing if my characters are behaving true to form or if they need a better goal, more believable motivation or stronger conflict. Or discovering a secondary character who leaps off the page and steals the show. Not that I'm into whips and chains, but I've had to beat a few of them back and promise them a book to themselves if they just behave!

I used to work in a linear fashion, the first chapter came first, and if I couldn't get past that, I couldn't go on to the second chapter. Now, the process has changed and I will spend a week, setting up scenes that I know will be needed. That includes my ending. Since I use a working synopsis now, I know how it will end and if I write that, I know how to line up the rest of the book. It actually sounds more complicated than it is.

And just think, if you're still in love after the first draft, (even if it didn't line up the way you thought it would) and you're willing to stick it out, the reward will be a book you haven't just fallen in love with, but one you will love for a long time.

How do you start a new writing project? What process works best for you? I'd be interested in knowing!

Have a Happy Fourth of July!
Paris

23 comments:

Collette Thomas said...

When I start a new project it is like venturing into unfamiliar territory; you don't quite know where you're headed, and so the whole thing becomes the journey, not so much the destination.

My latest WIP is a 15K story, a vampire romance actually that I and 14 other members of my writers group are now in the process of creating. Each of us will I'm sure go about writing these stories in a different way, but in the end we will reach the destination of putting together an anthology of 15K stories (more or less) devoted to the vampire romance genre.

I've just created a separate blog where each lady (Bitten By Love) will share their own journey on developing a WIP and how they get to that final destination. The blog will eventually be posted in my Newsletter some time this summer.

It reminds me of a card I have posted over my computer. It's not always the destination, but it is the journey.

Collette Thomas
http://www.newsletterofcollettethomas.blogspot.com

Serena Shay said...

Cool process, Paris! I wish I could work off a synopsis, but I'm not there yet. :) I mostly work off a storyboard/outline writing beginning to end with tons of edits in between. hehe

Have a great 4th!

Paris said...

Wow, Collette, thanks so much for sharing! And you're right, it is the journey and each one is a different! Thank you for including the addy for the newsletter. I plan on dropping by!

Paris said...

Everyone has a comfort zone and it sounds like you've found yours! Congratulations and thanks for sharing!

Regina Carlysle said...

Interesting post. I've been writing for a long time and I've never worked from a synopsis or a structured outline. I actually jot down basic things about the beginning, middle, and end and then I start. I never do a rough draft. What I've written is what is sent to my editor. If a new charactter pops in and surprises me, I usually promise him/her a book of their own if they amuse me. LOL. I am a complete pantser though I DO make sure each chapter is really polished before I move on to the next.

Anonymous said...

I knew we were kindred writers in set up style. Not surprising because knowing you personally, I think it is safe to say we go into little in our lives without a plan. I get an idea, research a little, and then flesh out main characters. I always know the beginning, the end, and then fill in key events. However, just like my real life profession of teaching, no matter how well I have planned, book characters like real people sometimes throw me a curve. Good Topic!

Paris said...

Regina, I admire your panster attitude! I wish it worked for me;-) I like your chapter by chapter approach. Thanks for stopping by.

Paris said...

Thank you anonymous! Sometimes those curves are irresistible! They make life and books interesting;-) Thanks for stopping by!

Anonymous said...

Paris, I spend a great deal of time with my characters developing in my head before I ever write anything down! Once I start, I do the chapters in order and then go back and adjust things.
Tessie Bradford

Kate Hill said...

This is a great topic. I like to live with my characters for a while first, thinking about who they are and getting to know them. Usually as soon as I come up with the characters I have a basic idea of what their story is, where it begins and how it ends. While working on the character and world building process, I make tons of notes and work on an outline. By the time I'm ready to start I pretty much know just where the story is going. I really like working from an outline, but one that leaves some room for changes and additions, if necessary.

Crystal Kauffman said...

For me it's like an explosion, and when it hits I have to go with it. The stories and characters take control of my life and won't leave me alone until I write them down. You're right, I am immediately in love with them, so I don't want them to leave me alone. :)

Paris said...

Tessie, I think romance is more character driven than any other genre (maybe because its the one I'm so familiar with;-)and yes, I think the characters come first for me too! Thanks for dropping by!

Paris said...

Kate, great process! I used to have lots of random notes in spiral notebook but now I put everything on the computer. I don't lose as much as I used to;-)

Paris said...

Crystal, I love that feeling! Except when they wake me up in the middle of the night with a random piece of dialogue that needs to go somewhere even though I haven't written the scene yet!

Savanna Kougar said...

Paris, the writing process and how it differs for each author/writer always fascinates me.
I've used different approaches, depending on the story and how it came to me. A lot of mine begin as daydreams or from a lucid dream or a lyric I hear.
Mostly, I'm a pantser and let my heroines and heroes drive their story. Course, on some days the story explodes as Crystal said. On other days, for me, it's like slogging through mud.

Savanna Kougar said...

Oh, I always love my heroines, my heroes and the story... or it doesn't get written.

Paris said...

Savanna, I agree, we all have different methods but we all seem to get "there". I'm always fascinated by the process and thank you for adding your voice to the mix!

Fran Lee Romance said...

It's a great love affair to get into, because it just keeps getting beter and better...*sigh*

Sandy said...

Paris,

I used to be panster, but now I make character profiles, sometimes make an outline, sometimes just write notes, so I'm no longer a complete panster.

Interesting blog.

Paris said...

Fran, don't you love it when love happens that way;-)

Paris said...

Sandy, I say if you find a process that works for you go for it! Thanks!

Marianne Stephens said...

You've got a great system that works for you, Paris! I start with a general idea and get that first sentence done. Then I write some outline sentences on a page so I know where I want the story to go.
I "head write" in bed most nights...hell, can't sleep well anyway...and then keep those ideas in mind when I write.
Once I have a good idea of what the hero and heroine look like and "feel" their emotions, I let them tell me the story! HA!

Paris said...

Marianne! Good to hear from you;-) sounds like you have a great system that works for you too! I've done the head writing thing in bed too, always helpful when it carries over to the next day. Thanks for stopping by!