NOVELS: often begin with a dream, a fantasy exploration and the “what if”
1. Begin with character- who is she, what marks her as different, what are her attributes and what is her story? Rancher, businesswoman, artist,healer, psychic? What is her challenge: survival, search for meaning, helping others?
2.Who threatens, challenges or supports her? Protagonist? Can I see him, it?
3.Setting/s? Where and how does it impact the character/s? Do I know the setting, draw on own experience..yes.
POETRY: often springs from an experience with great emotional impact (nature, family member’s illness, death) but also comes from stories told to me (The Apple Factory), out of my experience(White Girl, Black Heart,) or tidbits of historical research (Pancho’s Sister.)
1. From idea, get words on paper, rough or smooth, with energy/emotion behind them. “Mother said the Arizona Territory was good for only two things: tame Indians and wild children. Me and William Ebert were her wild children and Geronimo was our Indian.”
2. Research for Content: could journalist John Reed have been in El Paso and meet Jo in the spring of 1914? Yes, he’d just come back from Mexico and following Villa and Carranza.
3. Setting: Have I been there, what’s in my journal, what other place do I have personal knowledge of that will fit the story? Without first- hand knowledge, go to museums, internet and library research for displays, books, news articles, photos. Be open to serendipity: as when Jo’s stopping the Ford story showed up in Bisbee Museum and what did the Tiffany Studio look like in 1898 since it no longer exists?
4. Because it is historical, what is the timeline? I plot out the story arc with sensitivity to what was happening in the world, area to incorporate later.
5. Write, rewrite, research, read aloud, write some more, stay open to critique, rewrite/rebuff and write again.
6. Get frustrated, let it rest, go at it again.
7. Get Writer’s Block, kick the imaginary cat, turn to another format (Short Story,Poem, Essay) , write in longhand, journal over it, write again.
8. Along the way, rest on my laurels…perfect dialogue, gorgeously conveyed setting, strong plot twist, praise from others.(ahem…)
Throughout all this, I attend writers organizational meetings, gather with writer friends, take on writerly tasks (ie, coordinating contests, participating on panels,) keep up on Face Book, Blog, follow others’ blogs, find my personal Max Perkins and attend conferences. I do all for the purpose of honing my skills and making connections to aid the writing process and move me toward publication.
WHAT IS YOUR WRITING PROCESS? HOW DOES IT DIFFER FROM MINE?
I HOPE YOU WILL SHARE YOUR PROCESS SO WE CAN ALL LEARN FROM YOU.