I’m feeling very unprepared in comparison to Tessa & Brenna’s story start methods. They ask all these deep questions and are very logical and me . . . yeah. This is how it goes for me.
1) I get an idea. There are two sorts of ideas. One is small i idea. That’s the “that would be cool if someone wrote about . . . ” idea. Then there are big I Ideas. That’s the “it would be cool if I wrote about . . . ” Idea. Once an idea gets a capital I, I know it’s going to get written. I haven’t abandoned a project in years. Ideas are normally plot-driven rather than character what-ifs.
2) The Idea gets a working title. Gotta have a working title. Elapsed time since #1: 1-3 hours.
3) I sit at my computer with my Idea, newly named, and write a one paragraph plot summary. It’s what the back of the book would look like. Elapsed time since #2: 5 minutes-3 hours.
4) I turn the summary over in my head and try and figure out what sort of people would get themselves into this sort of mess. The goal is to figure out a great ending scene. I don’t care at this point how the characters get there, but I want to know how the back end of the problem looks. Elapsed time since #3: 1 day to several weeks (usually while I’m working on other projects).
5) Now I desperately need to know the characters and I need to know roughly how they get there. I figure out what the mood of the novel will be and burn a CD of songs just in that mood. I listen to it exhaustively while I lay on the carpet and brainstorm about possible scenes and character flaws and ways to get to that end I’ve already dreamed up. Elapsed time since #4: 1 day to 1 week.
6) I write a two-page synopsis. It’s really rough and probably really wrong, but it gives me a rough road map. Elapsed time since #5: 1 week to 3 weeks.
And then I’m off. Whooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.
This process is still fresh in my mind, since I’m just about to start a new Sunday novel (a novel not under contract that I only let myself write and brainstorm about on Sundays).