I’ve begun work on my next young adult novel. Finally. It’s much easier to think about writing than it is to muster the self-discipline required to actually do it – ha! Who knew? This one will be set on the coast of South Carolina, which may necessitate another trip there next summer (hint-hint, Phil) to gather more detailed information about the landscape and plant life there.
Typically, when I write something, it begins with a concept, some sort of overall message I want to bring to life. Then, over time I will brainstorm and develop the idea. I think about the characters and setting. If it’s a short story or article, that may be all I need to get started. For something longer, the next step for me is to outline the story, dividing into chapters and adding subpoints. Then I begin to write. The outline helps me to pace myself. I shoot for 5 or 6 single spaced pages per chapter. Of course the outline changes along the way, but that’s ok. It’s only a guide. I will add to and take away from during the entire process.
I ran across a great post a few days ago at Writer Unboxed entitled Write What You Know. Of course we’ve all heard that advice many times, but I really like how this author, Sophie Masson, fleshed it out. She says that “writing what you know” means writing from the inside, from your heart, your emotions. Experiences will differ, but emotions are universal. Without the heart, writing is lifeless and flat. Here’s an excerpt from the article:
It didn’t matter if you were writing about broken marriages or broken kingdoms; about office bullies or Dark Lords; that was merely a choice, an inclination. But the emotions had to ring true, whatever world your characters came from. You and your readers might never live the life of a young prince unexpectedly elevated to the throne; but all of us understand what it’s like to be suddenly thrust in a situation we weren’t expecting. All of us can sympathise with the nerves and doubts and excitement. All of us can feel what it’s like on the inside, even if we don’t all reach the same conclusions about it. Even if we feel differently about these things. It still feels real, and that’s what counts.