Angie’s Randoms: My Pre-Writing Chaos

I might be the most unorganized writer I know. Not only does my modus operandi shift with every novel I set out to write, it also changes as I’m writing it. Do I jump into a novel without thinking about what the story is even going to be about? Yup. Do I do enough pre-research on a topic to earn a certificate degree? Sure do. Do I outline? Sometimes. Plunge? You got it. I’m trying to think about what I do do that is consistent with each and every project.

1) I Let My Imagination Run Wild. I think this is one of the main consistent things I do. I sit and stare out the window, or take extra long showers, or blow dry my hair until it’s so damaged I require deep conditioning treatment, and all the while I’m lost inside whatever world or situation my mind has snagged on, exploring the characters I’ve concocted, and what makes them special.

2) I Ask Questions. That’s right, I talk to the imaginary people in my head. To non-writers, that might sound utterly insane, but you all know what I’m talking about, don’t you? I ask what it is they want, what they are afraid of, who they love, who they hate, what is standing in the way of their goal, etc… and then I ask the bigger question, “Why?” I open up a dialogue in my head with them, and that helps me build the story.

3) I Listen to Music Reminding Me of the Time Period. I write mainly historical fiction, though I sometimes branch into contemporary. Though I can’t write while listening to music, I do like to listen to music while I’m in my pre-writing phase, imagining my characters and their stories. I lean toward instrumental music, since lyrics tend to distract me.

4) I Change Everything. Once I think I know what my character will be up to plot-wise, I almost always decide it’s too lame and change everything! Sometimes this even happens when I’m a few chapters in.

5) I Give Myself Time. I’ve had enough story revelations to know that they don’t come when forced. They take their merry time coming to me, and when they do, the rest of the book usually falls into place. So if a portion of my pre-writing is stuck on something that isn’t working, I edge around it with faith that the revelation will smack me upside the head sometime soon.

~A.F.

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