That would be roughly equivalent to my OCD-editing-of-all-previous-material that takes over every time I sit down to pick up where I left off.
Yep, that one's a classic *thumbs up*
Edited at 2010-09-18 10:56 am (UTC)
I tend to work from a combination of two things; one, I have to have at least one crucial scene or bizarre one-liner to give me a cue as to where I start working from/towards. Two, I have to have a sensual clue as to the feel of the story. For some stories it's an emotion, for others it's a particular song or smell or image, even a physical sensation.
I can never really... plan a story. I know it's a cliche to say it, but it's a very organic process for me - stories are just born, they don't follow much of a logical process. Your idea of needing an emotional landscape before you write doesn't sound freaky to me at all <3. *hugs*
I can't say I don't plan at all, because that's not true. I end up with an overview paragraph, kind of like a prospectus, and then a number of bullet-points as I think of certain scenes that need to happen or certain necessary dialogue exchanges. I then start at the beginning and write in and around the stuff I've already jotted down, revising those bits as needed.
None of the writers I used to hang out with back Stateside could get their heads around my needing a title before I could start, or even the fact that I need to start at the beginning. They were all so capable of just writing from the middle, or the end, or whatever, and then stitching it all together. I can't do that; I am, largely, very linear, and I move through the flow of it just as the characters do. So much of what I write isn't in the prospectus or the bullet points; those are dry, curiously clinical. The epiphanies come as I push myself into whatever scene from whatever POV I'm driving. I love the shocked realizations that lead to the words on the page that everyone assumes are so carefully planned. Sometimes they are, but so much of the time, they aren't. I plot broad strokes, not minutiae. The minutiae happen as I go along, and I love that. It's my favorite thing about the process.
I usually have to have a voice.
Usually it's the voice of a character saying a particular line, but it can sometimes be a scene, too.
Whatever it is, it's usually extremely visceral and detailed, with everything in that one snippet plotted out.
Everything else flows from and around that one moment.
I have to be able to hear it, feel it, or see it happening in my head, in that voice. Otherwise nothing works.
But hey, emotional landscapes or voices, whatever works right? So long as it gets written down.
The having voices set is important for dialogue, always, I agree :) I run dialogues and tweak them until they sound right in the voice of the character speaking them.
Compared to the other responses you've gotten, mine will seem quite shallow, but...I have to have a bottle of water beside me. It doesn't matter if I'm thirsty or not. If there is no bottle of water on my desk, near my chair, etc., then I become horribly distracted until I get one.
As far as my actual writing goes...I have to have at least a few keywords scratched out on regular notebook paper, sort of a touchstone for my mind. They could be just a few prompt words (usually nouns) or as complex as an almost fully-fleshed out scene, but unless I have those 'touchstone' words to glance upon every once and a while, I drift.
Actually, I love your response because it admits to the need for proper set-dressing! I have to be seated at the far left end of the couch. Not on the right, not in the middle. Far left end, farthest away from the television, so I can put my feet up on my computer slip-case on the coffee table. So: your water bottle = Very important.
For me it is a spark of inspiration that sets my imagination towards a story. It could be a prompt, a song, a bit of art, anything really. Once that has come it seems to grow organically, and quite quickly. I've tried plotting out stories and having outlines about where I want to go, but they often grow, and I've often been disappointed as I haven't finished them.
The organic method works best for me, with a good splash of inspiration thrown in.
Oh, music, yes. On those occasions when a story continues to drag its feet even after it's mapped out and has a title, using a particular song or combination of songs is an excellent kick-starter. Songs have emotional atmospheres that are the closest thing to...the closest thing to which I can compare those emotional imprints I'm talking about, that's what I want to say.
My writing habits are probably no more strange than anyone else's. I'm fussy about inspiration, I've got to have the right mood - not mine necessarily - but the mood of the piece in my head, solid before I start. Which means my writing is very sporadic, because work, home, assorted other distractions often get in the way.
If I've got that mood however, I usually start with a single scene or spark which could have come from anywhere, recent examples being a dream, a throwaway line in an ep, a photo. Sometimes I write linearly, but not often, I must admit. I am a compulsive editor though and if I really want to write, but haven't got the mood I'll edit something and that usually gets my head where it needs to be.
I've had a long dry period lately, then the most recent series of Doctor Who took over my brain and I wrote a lot, then that got interrupted by life and I lost it again. I'm a terrible procrastinator. A friend rec'd 750words.com and I vacillated over it for a while, but then tried it and actually it's been surprisingly effective at getting me motivated; even if my writing varies in tone, fandom, quality from day to day, I'm actually getting something down so it feels like accomplishment anyway.
I've heard about 750words.com, but I've been too lazy to look into it. Maybe I will!
The moment the inspiration hits I can never, ever sit down to write it. If I do, then that story is doomed (unless is a drabble, of course) because I lose interest in it. I have to map everything from beginning to end in my head, even if it changes while I'm writing it (and it always does), and I spend days or even weeks writing small scenes over and over again in my head until the words are imprinted so hard I can just remember the actual turn of a particular phrase. If a story doesn't have that it won't get finished (or I'll hate the result).
For the actual writing of the story I need silence if I'm home. No TV, no people talking to me and no music. nothing that can prevent me from hearing my own toughts. If I'm doing it at work I put on some music I've listened to so much it's just background noise.
Oh, I'm exactly the opposite! I can't obsess over scenes, or I might have them play out and then not be able to reach it again later. I hold off thinking about things until I'm somewhere I can actually write things down. I feel safer that way. I hate the thought of losing a scene in all its small detail just because I was careless enough to think about it. I can't memorize things if I run them repeatedly; my memorization skills are appalling (i.e. nearly non-existent; being in plays is, as a rule, excruciating for me not because I don't like to act, but because I can't memorize things easily and I fear being mocked for it).
I can't start without a first sentence and a context. Usually I will get visuals of the scenes and the characters' expressions, body language etc., and my writing usually stems from describing those visuals and then working out what's going on underneath to have caused them. But I can't actually get going until the first words condense, cloud-to-waterdroplet-esque, in my mind.
I always end up re-writing my first sentence about three times. By the third or fourth re-write, though, it's sorted, and everything else from there on out tends to co-operate nicely.
Back when I used to write ::sigh::, it was an image. Either the image to start it with (the first scene, so to say, freeze-frame) or an image I wanted to achieve. I once wrote an entire fic because I wanted a hug in the shower between my protagonists, where one was naked and the other clothed. Sometimes it's a line of dialogue or a premise, but usually an image.
Often this will eventually warp into an emotional imprint/landscape (I like that phrase!) but that happens without real conscious direction from me. It'll often be things I already believe about the characters, but I don't consciously feed it in there. Does that make sense?
The still image, yes, a tableau that you know is indispensable - I will get that on rare occasions. Most often the words come first for me instead, that iconic dialogue exchange of two or three lines that I just know will be the clincher. How cool to hear that for you it's the visual :)
Yes, it makes sense.
Ha, that title thing is interesting - for me, titles usually always come last of all.
I think I know what you mean with the emotional landscape. I need to know the atmosphere in a story before almost anything else. And I need to feel in tune with the characters I'm writing about.
(Gah, haven't written any fiction for ages and it feels bad. Cursed busy/emotional life. :/)
For most people I know, titles come last. I'm normally the anomaly in the respect that I need a title before I can start :)
I'm glad the atmosphere/imprint thing isn't as weird as I'd been led to think. It's just that I used to hang out with loads of people who looked at me like I was from Mars whenever I said that!
I have to have a title. Be it fanfiction or original fic, or even original nonfiction (such as the magazine articles I used to do), I can't have something simply called "Untitled." If it doesn't have a title, even just a working title that might get changed later, I'm paralyzed and can't write it.
On the occasions I don't have a title, I wouldn't say I'm totally paralyzed, but the going feels rougher until I do manage to sort the title (which is usually before I finish).
I've found that for anything I finish, the first scene and the last scene are always clear in my head from the start. They're always what gets written first. The middle, well, that's negotiable, and always shifting.
I may add or detract from those two first scenes I write, but it's very rare for them to change substantially. If I have a clear idea what I'm coming from and where I'm going to, I'm good.
For just general writing practices, I have tendency to jot down one or two key sentences or phrases (usually dialogue) for a scene already plotted in my head that I don't have time to write out for whatever reason. Those sentences/phrases act as place holders. As long as I've got them, the scene and dialogue will come back to me when I finally have the time to sit down and write.
Titles are funny. Sometimes they come before anything else. Sometimes they'll hit me halfway through. And sometimes I have to go looking for one. Oftentimes, the one I think I'm going to use gets discarded for something better. I suppose titles are a little like placeholders for me as well. XD
I hate the cases where titles absolutely refuse to come till the end. Those are the titles that always feel so much weaker to me.
Mine has to be music. I have a specific soundtrack (of about 20 songs) for each fandoms I read and/or write. If I'm not hearing the right sound track for the fandom I can't write, it's as simple as that for me. The songs I associate with a particular fandom are enough to get my brain into the right space - though it can be a problem if I hear one of the songs from "my" soundtrack out in the real world...it feels a bit like a glitch in the Matrix sometimes. :P
Hee, I hear you about hearing songs you associate with a particular fandom in public!
I need a title before I can really get anywhere. I can write, and often do, but it doesn't feel like more than notes until it has a title.
And I have to know where each scene is going otherwise my characters just sit around in kitchens making and drinking tea all day. Literally.
Which works better with some characters than with others ;)
With you on the amorphous imprint thing.
The writing process starts in one of two ways: either agenttrojie
and I sit and toss ideas round until something starts rolling; or, more often, she presents me with a haphazard google document filled with sketchy half-scenes and notes and says "Make it work!".
Usually what then happens is I get some grand overarching idea of what's going to happen and what's going to be involved (and where the poignant angst and/or crack will fit).
Then I transpose that knowledge back into Trojie's brain and she writes the thing, often with me peering over her gdoc shoulder and making suggestions. And then I rewrite her draft. And then she rewrites mine. And then I rewrite hers. And then we spend months and months twiddling bits and rewriting bits and generally overhauling the entire thing.
None of this would be possible without copious amounts of tea and nicotine.
None of this would be possible without copious amounts of tea and nicotine.
Great deeds are rarely possible without copious amounts of these things.
Edited at 2010-09-19 10:30 am (UTC)