I have to start with a story idea, of course. I mean that's basic. As my stories get longer, so do the ideas. Usually, they start with a flicker like 'wouldn't it be fun if...' and grow from there. As I'm writing this I've realized that most of my foolishly-fun, real life ideas come about from 'wouldn't it be fun if...' or 'wouldn't it be hysterical if...' ideas.
If you don't know about my love of quirky characters, you must be new around here. I am one myself and, in books and movies, I love them like they're close, personal friends. (One day soon, I'll bring you my favorite television show quirky sidekicks.) I'm not sure why they're mostly sidekicks who are quirky. They bring levity and the smart-ass comments that usually the hero or heroine can't say but should. Anyway, after the story itself, I think about the character. What's her job? What kind of family spawned her? These are important because like us, the type of person we turn out to be is based on the type of family we had/have and our job choices. It influences the story, too.
After the story idea starts to build it becomes complicated enough to need the outline. I'm not sure if I need an outline so much as the story demands one. Characters need backstory. I love backstory. There's often more backstory in my head than what makes it onto the page. I have to know their motivation, even the quirky characters who show up for two minutes, but the readers don't often need it. While I'm writing the outline, more ideas will fall out onto the page. The character will influence the story idea until it becomes clearer in my head. I can see how the pages will lay out for the most part. My outlines are not incredibly detailed. It'll say something like "Ch. 1. meet heroine. day on the job? what's her problem. opening line? friends and family?" As I write, that will help beef up the next chapter's outline.
This is a bit harder to define. It depends solely on the type of story. The city I've chosen for the setting has to be researched. I may decide to fabricate parts of the story, but there has to be a base of knowledge to make those alterations. One of my stories was set in Florida. The city I chose doesn't exist, but was based loosely on another in that area. I moved that city to the coast. In Reframing Emma, there were newspaper clippings I created that never made it into the book. That wasn't a waste of time because they helped me. In the next story, there'll be a treasure map. I'll find a way to make one to help me visualize. I often make small hand drawings of rooms to keep myself oriented, too.
Once I have all these things in place, it's time to write. I use a variety of methods to keep myself on task. The hardest part of writing a book is finding the time to put the words on the page. This is why I love NaNoWrimo and Camp Nano. I'm motivated when I have competition or company; it doesn't matter which one. I like to see my progress and share it with other people who are doing the same. I'm a week behind, but I've done most of the outlining of my story. I've half outlined two actually. I'll switch back and forth between them to see which progresses easier then focus on that one.
On a side note, I've been posting three days a week. It's mostly been four days, but I'd only planned on three. I'm bringing that down to two plus the Tall Tale Tuesday posts. I still like that. And even if only one or two people are publicly participating, who knows if there are others who are using the posts for their personal writing. I know I've done that with other blog's prompts in the past. I'll be posting Monday, Tuesday and Friday. It's important that I focus on the fiction writing more.
Over the next month, I'll share a bit of my writing process. I'm excited about this idea of charting my story on Pinterest, too.