Or, more accurately, how I begin the process of moving toward my books.
Planning is a left-brain process. Creativity has to have a healthy dose of right brain. You need both. The apocryphal Hemingwayesque “write drunk, edit sober.”
Here’s a very short version of my story-generating process, which thus far has given me good results blending left and right, analytical and creative:
- Have an idea. This usually happens unconsciously, even against my will. How about “action/adventure scifi in the jungle.” This is what happens to your brain when it’s exposed to Edgar Rice Burroughs before television has had a chance to mold it properly.
- Extend it to a concept: “time traveling Indiana Jones“
- Mull it over, sleep on it, take long drives, and come upon a premise: “what if a group of researchers discovered that the universal timeline had been corrupted and the only way to restore it was to send a mercenary back to pivotal points of ancient history to fix them — if he wasn’t killed first?” (I use Larry Brooks’ definitions of idea, concept, and premise.)
- Nail down the payoff scene. Usually the culmination of the storyline, but sometimes, the inciting incident. But I know this scene viscerally before I move on. Sometimes this step is #1, and I extrapolate the concept and premise from it.
- Write my 12 sentences.
- Write any scenes that come to me fully formed, ready to be written. No sense rejecting the muse when she knocks. Can happen concurrent with #5.
- Procrastinate. Days, weeks, sometimes months, and in one case, years. Yeah, I tried to give it up, but Procrastinators Anonymous keeps canceling their meetings.
- Finally buckle down and start writing.
- Disappear into a black hole of antisocial antilife and emerge with 50,000 words.
Your mileage, as they say . . .