Oh that's easy. Brainstorming! But because everyone does this differently, I'm going to talk about a few things you can ask yourself to see what kind of writer you are.
There are two kinds of writers in this world, and to be honest, I am both of these.
1. A pantser- A pantser is a type of writer that goes to a white sheet of paper, having planned nothing out, and lets the story come out the way the writer feels. It is a very freeing type of writing. There's no rigid schedule and no direction that you main character has to follow. It's kind of amazing to see how the character will lead you to what they need their story to be. It tends to be creative and out-of-the-box thinking.
Downside: A writer, especially a new one, can lose their way very quickly and get writer's block more often. Consistency is also a weakness for this writer. What they may have put in about the main character in the beginning of the book, look a character flaw, may not be even mentioned toward the last half of the book because it was forgotten. It does create a bit more (ok- a lot more) editing in the end.
Either way, pantsing is good to do every once in a while to keep creative juices flowing.
2. A plotter is a writer who plans out how the story is going to go. Every writer does this differently and they key is, try to do this in a way that works for you. I usually have a scenes mapped out with goals for each scene. Then when I have established all of my scenes, I go back and write what other things I want to happen in the scene to accomplish the goal.
Downside- It's hard to break out of the mold if the mold is already written down and you have chosen to go that path. Sometime you can create a mold and then realize and editor, publisher, or even beta reader has found some flaw in the mold and you have to redo and start over. It is much more discouraging if you have taken the time to plan that mold.
Let's talk about a few ways that you can plan as a plotter. A lot of people like to write out their scenes, what they want to happen in the book. Some writers even go to the extent of writing out their goals for a scene, what the action and reaction will be, how to leave your readers hanging at the end of each chapter, and how to resolve any conflict within a chapter. I myself am a bullets kind of planner.
Here is what a section of my Nanowrimo outline looks like (Nanowrimo is a challenge in November to write a 50,000 word book...and yes of course, I am doing it!)
a. Meet/cute with Cambria on the track on a mile run (cute banter and some attraction/meet cute)
b. Decision to run home, come back and sketch him
a. Introduce him on the Baseball field
b. Show personality/love of baseball/superstitions
c. Get annoyed at the person in the bleachers staring at him, taking notes
I am still a little bit of a pantser in the fact that I don't know a ton of what's going to happen within a scene so that when it's time to write, I have a rigid chapter. I like to have a little freedom for magic to happen :) So I plot a few points in an a, b, c manner of things I want to happen in the chapter. Recently, I have found that even by writing a paragraph about each scene helps open up that scene even more. Most are notes I want to remember or try out to see if it works. (Forgive me....notes are hastily written and usually make no sense to the reader. Good thing we write this stuff out in words, sentences, and paragraphs later :)
Cambria is out for her daily walk, looking for inspiration in someone’s eyes. She knows sketching is her healing balm but lately she only sees blank faces when she goes to draw. She is talking on her phone, trying to assure her mom she is okay after the big move and no she hasn’t talked to strangers yet and no she hasn’t kissed any boys. She slightly reveals here that she is a widow and moving on is not going to be so easy. The mom encourages her. It’s been a year. You were only married a few months and engaged for even less, go find someone new. She continues to argue with her when someone is running toward her. As he passes she say, You have a great face.” The guy spins around…and the mom is saying, What I have great taste? NO mom, I’ll call you back. Then she repeats that he has a great face. The guy smiles and goes back to his run, except a moment later, he runs off the track and down toward the baseball fields. So she decides to run home and find her binoculars and her sketch pad, spy on him, and sketch him as he plays.
Brian starts his baseball playing with a few superstitions to show his quirky, superstitious personality. He’s not a star but he’s a pretty good player. The team likes him a lot, especially his new friend Rob. He’s only been in Texas for a few months and right away he joined up with as many teams as he legally could and signed up to coach some little-league teams. He’s a billionaire by chance, so I want to show that right away. Only Rob knows his secret. He ran from his past after his girlfriend revealed she had been dating him so she could write an article in the newspaper about his billion dollar lawsuit win against one of the most renown cancer hospitals. The doctor operating on his only living family member left, his father, was drunk during the operation, botched his surgery, and the hospital was sued for negligence. Since the hospital had made exceptions for him in the past and they were later discovered, Brian decided to go on with the lawsuit. Because of that, Brian got a lot of bad press and people hated him. He started dating a girl around that time and she betrayed him. He moved away to get away from it all. This background will not be shared in this chapter. Only glimpses of it.
Anyway, he sees Cambria in the stands but doesn’t recognize her as the girl who he saw on the trail. She’s wearing a black baseball hat and has binoculars and immediately he is suspicious. He turns and glares at her every once in a while.
The big point is that everyone plans differently, and whether you are a plotter or pantser, you have to begin writing somewhere. The next step is to look at how to write one scene in your story and what a scene of writing is even made up of. But that is for next time. :)
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