I wrote several weeks ago about a new novel that came to life in my head—the first new novel in more than 3 years. Well, this week I put pen to paper on this new Work In Progress (WIP). Just a few paragraphs, nothing mind-blowing. But it felt really, really good to start on a new journey.
I’m trying something a little different with my process this time: I’m trying to think more before I write. Not necessarily plot more, but spend more time in the pre-writing stage, getting to know my characters, their motivations, their world. To have more of the subtext in place in my head before I write.
My main reason for this is because I want to try to get my characters stronger earlier in the writing process. My biggest struggle of late is to make my characters “real” to the reader. It takes a great deal of revision to layer and nuance characters who were flat in the beginning, and even then it doesn’t always work. Some things are easier if you get them on a good footing from the beginning.
Another reason for the pre-writing is so I can hopefully cut down on the number of revisions I go through before my story is ready to go out. I love the revision process, but the more depth and detail and structure I can have in place in the first draft, the less revising it will take to get it in there later. My first drafts tend to be quite underwritten. While I think that will not change too much, I am hopeful that more of what is there will be valuable, and less will be dross to be thrown away completely.
As I said in the beginning, this does not mean I intend to plot every scene, as some people do. I cannot work that way. However, I do intend to plot the high points of the action and the character arcs—from there I can play connect-the-dots as I write, and let the story figure out how to get from point A to point B. My intention is to improve my writing speed by having some idea where I am going as I write, rather than simply meandering all over the place. Some meandering is necessary to my writing, but a little more control will not hurt.
So my new journey with my new WIP has begun, and I am trying a few different approaches to try and hone my process. A long road remains ahead—and what a wonderful adventure it will be!