Its kinda odd that so many people pace. Not that I don't, because I'm always pacing when I've got some idea spinning in my head, but… eh. *shrugs*
When I'm thinking of a story, I'm usually focusing on:
A) The concept behind the story and the implications of the concept. Especially on how that effects the characters mindsets. This is also the stuff I usually end up researching the most. I look at other stories, usually searching trope pages and checking interesting examples, read mythology, folklore, Wiki Walk
the Other Wiki
, and will even visit the library and take hard copy notes.
After doing all that research and setting the stage for worldbuilding, I then start… err, monologuing to myself. I've digested all of the information, and now I have to present it — even if only to myself in my own head. My brain starts going in a loop, creating a lecture to present the facts using metaphors, anecdotes, jokes, body language of the lecturer, all sorts of careful explanations, repeating it over and over and layering over things until it becomes coherent. Sometimes this is done in-character, by someone in the story who actually knows what they're talking about, sometimes it isn't. Writing it down and "finishing" the lecture is also completely and utterly optional, and most of it will never really get into the story ether way.
I'll also write thing out a lot, especially if I'm feeling stuck. I'll list out all the qualities of the problem I'm facing, write down the questions to challenge my assumptions, come up with possible answers, and try to generally get to the heart of why
something is wrong, even if I can't figure out how to fix it. This is usually where the scenes and events of the story start forming, as well.
B) Character interaction. Most of the time this happens after the characters have strong motivations, personalities, and relationships in my head. This takes a while, though, because its always a struggle for me to figure out what all three of these things are for each of the characters, and it usually only happens after I've ruminated on all the research from point A, even if I do know all the character names and roles beforehand. It is, however, fun as all get out once I start "getting" it.
But, if I don't have those three things, or at least the first two? Well, lets just say that writing anything is impossible, and the characters will be very
one dimensional. It also makes writing the very beginning of a story hell ether way, because I've ether got too little to work with, or am too inspired with wanting to write something that has to happen in the middle of the story. A lot of words get thrown out because of this.
Also, one way or another, characters will start attaching themselves to songs and even particular artists I'm listening to. I haven't figured out how to make that help me while actually writing the scenes, but they are really useful for adding another layer of characterization onto a character. Listening to those artists and songs can also get me into a mood to think about my story.
C) Imagery. I suddenly picture something that looks awesome in my head, and then go with it. Since I am an artist, there is a lot of focus on lighting, angles, colors, perspective, movement, and that sort of thing, but I also often have a bit of a love affair with interesting metaphors. I also get a lot of sneaky foreshadowing that I don't expect popping up, which is always fun.
Most of my lengthier description is ether on something enthrallingly beautiful and graceful, or something jarring and frightening. I like making my description very visceral, often describing the atmosphere of the area and sprinkling it with smaller details using all the senses and how the character interacts with the setting. I'm also not above being a bit gory, and have gone so far as to describe people dying horribly and going into a lot of detail about it, even if only to underline how horrifying the situation is for the characters involved. Mixing up the setting with how the characters interact with and feel about it is also insanely fun.
This is where most of my description comes from, though not always to my benefit. Inspiration for this sort of thing is a tad sporadic, and I don't always want some charming piece of description, especially if it doesn't fit the mood. It also tends to stall the story a bit if not handled properly, which isn't always a good thing.
Half the time, if I especially like the imagery, I'll end up drawing it. Usually though, most of the drawings related to a story are to figure out what a character looks like and what clothes they wear, or maybe what their attacks look like. It also helps with staging, and I've drawn floors plans and character movement charts more than once before.
These three things tend to all happen at the same time, but with differing levels of effectiveness over time. As mentioned in point B, character interaction is only really effective after they've been plugged into worldbuilding, and description is hard to piece together effectively for storytelling purposes if I don't have a strong A and B, though it can also loop back and give fuel to restart a stalled concept or character.
Also, as I've come to realize recently, I need more than just those three things to get a story moving. Because while my description, character interaction, and explanations are excellent, there's more to a story than that. Like fight scenes, exposition, summarizing events, and having a plot. I especially suck at the last one, which is horrible because I like me a good plot — they make it so much easier to figure out what the hell I'm doing, especially during
I do a lot of thinking on public transport. Something about being able to sit still and watch scenery fly past helps. I think maybe it's because I don't have anything else to do, and yet because I'm moving I don't feel like I'm wasting time.
Yeah, that's one thing I really miss about not commuting to school — having an hour to just sit and think was a godsend, especially after I'd gotten the hang of drawing while on the bus. For a while, half of my word count was getting done on the bus, too.
edited 9th Feb '11 6:01:25 PM by Dec