“I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have.”
In the first part of this three piece article I covered my writing process for the blog posts I put together. I also included some of the things that I’m doing to add more oomph, gusto, pizzazz and a bunch of other outdated buzz words. As previously stated I’m going to shift gears and touch more on my process for slamming together a short story.
I brought up the part about imagining the basics of my story. Such as, but not limited to, the setting, characters, plot, climax and whether there will be a resolution or not, and what that resolution might be. I might write these things down, or I’ll keep them in the ole noggin. The latter generally being considered bad form, but it happens. Then I might start to hash out the first few paragraphs, introduce the main character(s), giving them some detail and body. It’s usually at this point I stop and open another writing application (I prefer Google Docs, but more on that some other time).
In this second document I’ll start writing high level notes of the story that I began to write as well as what comes next. I will generally work on a three act system for both short stories and longer works. Acts one and two come easy to me these are mostly exposition, plot and character development and some build up. The climax and fall of act three are often a little more work. I know that these are things that I have steadily increased the hype about for the first parts of the story, so this is something that must blow the reader’s mind. Because of this I usually wait until all the details of acts one and two are complete before making notes about act three.
The notes contain only the most important of details, everything else is setting the scene. That comes to me as I write. I visualize the scene in my head, all the details, then I find things that stand out to me, where did the blood flow too, was the painting crooked, did the killer leave any evidence, what color are the unicorns; well you get the picture. Getting the picture is the idea, however, I don’t want to force you into my frame of mind, I just want to put you in my world and let you see it how you would see the world around us. That’s why I write, not paint, if I wanted you to see exactly what I see I’d paint it, and you would probably still see what you want.
Act three comes with the climax, the big shebang. All that effort was for me to control your emotions. That’s right, writers just love to toy with our emotions and anyone who tells you different is probably lying. I want to make you anxious about what’s going to happen next, so I have to be sure to include that in my notes. Then I either want to make you feel good or completely dash all your hopes. Which ever I chose be sure I put effort into the outcome, and I felt the same before writing notes about it. After I have the notes I take myself into that situation and write out everything I would notice if I was experiencing it. If it’s a game of cat and mouse most of the details will be a blur, if it’s a battle field you will see a commander’s bird’s eye view, and if there is an unspeakable horror you won’t see the forest for the trees.
I left titles alone here, for the simple fact that titles are personal. If you can write the story, but can’t come up with a title, try that one phrase you wrote into the main character. The one you said out loud three times after you wrote it. Or don’t, I’m not the police, I’m just trying to explain my writing habits.
More to come in part three, the process for writing a longer story is, as luck would have it, more work.