Writing is work. Anyone who says otherwise is either lying or selling something.
That being said, how do you get from concept to finished first draft? I’m not talking about polished, ready to publish, amazingly perfect writing, just a first draft that includes a beginning, middle, and end as well as all the important elements of a good novel. Even Aristotle said so. 🙂
This is a question almost every author gets. I heard it asked during the event with Christopher Paolini and it’s been on my mind recently, hence the post. Thus far, for every book I’ve started or finished, my process has been different. Some ideas come to be with the larger story arc already in place and all I have to do is fill in the details. Others appear only as an image or scene and I have to go back through that scene with a million questions to try to see where these characters have come from and where they’re going. Sometimes I outline, sometimes I don’t. Maybe one day I’ll have a system that I employ for every book, but I find that doubtful. It kind of feels as likely as saying I’m going to follow the same routine every day for the rest of my life. Of course I’m not. No one is. Every day is different just like every book is different.
Sing, Sweet Nightingale, for example, started life as a short story. It then became two short stories. Now, it’s becoming a novel. Later, it might become a series. For this particular story, I never had an outline. I have notes now and I’m doing a lot of research into different things I will be using in the novel, but my short story versions are serving as my outline. I’ve found this to be SO INCREDIBLY USEFUL. And it’s probably going to be as close to a “process” as I get if I manage to repeat this life-cycle with the sequel. Even if I don’t repeat this system, it’s not the important part.
The important part is sitting down and writing, refusing to let procrastination and over-planning keeping you from the business of telling the story you need to tell. As long as you do that, does HOW you get there really matter?
What about you? Does anyone have a tried and tested system that gets them through that first draft with their sanity still intact?