A few days ago while I was hanging up the washing, an idea for a YA fantasy book came to mind. This will be my first fiction book, since for the majority of my adult years, I've only been writing non-fiction. I almost feel as if my fiction brain has been a bit "smooshed"! So here's my question to all of you experienced fiction writers: do you brainstorm and layout your book first? Or do you just start writing and allow your characters to appear and take you where they will?
I write down a rough storyline first to get an idea what the story is about. Then I do a bullet point brief of the story outline in Microsft powerpoint. My method is to have six bullet points per page. I find by doing this I can easily add new ideas. When I'm happy with the outline I do detailed descriptions of the characteristics of characters that will appear in the story. My final piece of planning is to map out a chapter sequence for the book using the bullet point method in Microsoft powerpoint. This is what works for me, I never just sit down and write a book off the top of my head.
The detailed planning may take several weeks before I arrive at a plan that I like. But I think the work involved in this process allows me to have a good basic structure to start a first draft.
I also get some great ideas while doing housework. I jot ideas down in a notebook and let them stew in my head for weeks or months. Once I figure out what the ending might be, then I make a very loose outline in either bullet form or a summary of what could happen in order to get to the ending. This makes it easier to change and add characters and scenes. Once I have what looks like an outline, then I start typing the story, adding description and fleshing out the characters. I try to write the first draft without editing it (and I don't let anyone read it) so that I can see if the story works.
If I get writer's block, I do housework. Good luck!
Thank you, Warren and Day's Lee! I appreciate you sharing what works for you. I'm going to get stuck in there and start writing! It's a new and exciting experience!
That's pretty much what I do, too.
I mostly get my ideas from being hard of hearing. People say one thing, I give them a bewildered look, and by then my mind's already racing and piecing bits of narrative and scene together. Once I have the idea, I write what I want to happen, the draft characters, then put them together in an outline.
I'm also grabbed sometimes by a single line. The novel that just won that grant starts, "Angela's periwinkle in a world of white." For some reason, that line opened up a lot of ideas for me, and made me dive right into the story.
I'm the odd one again :/
Ideas come to me, I toss and turn at night until I'm able to have the whole storyline worked out in my mind. Then when I take my walks in the morning I start the scenes in my head then go home and start typing.
I don't do a lot of fiction either. Not that I don't want to, I just have to put more time into things I have a better shot at selling.