Order is what keeps the imagination and creation on the page. It’s what retains all the flashes of the plot. From my thoughts, my dreams, and somewhere that I can’t quite fathom deep down inside.
Even in organized chaos, there is some order.
On occasion, I can afford to fly off the seat of my pants. That is where inspiration comes in. But to keep a great idea in line, to bring characters to life–and keep them alive–and to make a story be heard, takes discipline, consistency, and dedication. Order.
To most, this sounds like a job. Well, soon enough writing will become my full-time job. My ultimate career. But it is a job nevertheless. To be consumed in the words and scenarios is only one aspect of the process. The rest is the work, the effort, itself.
So I write when I can and when I feel it is time. Because of this, I stumble upon visions and pieces when I least expect it. When I listen to music, watch tv, read (when I have the emotional energy), hell, when I drive or about to hit my first REM cycle, sudden glimpses are inside my head. Like memories. Crystal clear, sometimes. At the very least, there are remnants of emotions.
My process is what makes characters and worlds reside in me until it’s decided to record. And when I do, I follow these habits:
Outline: I follow it to a degree. Go one chapter then the next. I realized a couple years ago that fleshing out, and jotting down, a full scene is just a massive wordy waste of potential drama if there is no remote plan to lead to that moment. So instead I leave vivid synopses per chapter or scene. For my personality and my right state of mind, everything needs to be roped together in some fashion. Even if two scenes are on complete opposite sides of the plot line.
Page Breaks: I spread the story out, even when I don’t know exactly where a piece of scene or story is supposed to go. I know definitively that whatever piece of dialogue, action, and/or prose goes in that spot. For now, anyway.
Jot It Down: Early on, I learned that I need to type away until I feel the need to get a tape recorder. Save it for later because otherwise, I’ll kick myself for not doing it when I hit cathartic gold.
Know the ending: I have to know the result, whether good or bad. Regardless, it be the final chapter of each installment or the finale of the plot. Embedded in my stubborn mind are the results that will spread to at least three books. If I’m being completely honest and thorough, most likely four.
Notability of Characters–created and unexpected: Within writing and editing the first five chapters, I’ve already racked up twelve characters with half of them unprecedented. Vivienne, Tony, Jay, Shawn, Mike, Sone, Liusaidh, Riothamus, Gwynedd, Willa, Caden, Blair. Just so you’re aware, they are listed by the first introduction in the story, or I should say series, because I am neurotic when it comes to detail. Insurmountable to their relevance in the story, they will have their crucial moments and prevalence. No matter how minor or major their meet-cute may be, each needs to make its mark on the page. Everyone has a part to play. Even when they leave the story for a while, they will return.
Research: If I’m going to tell a story, I need all the facts. Well, whatever can be found. When there is a limited historical backdrop, such as mine, I need all the information I can get. Sources include literary databases, traveling, advice, documentaries, and YouTube. Once I find all that I can muster, the rest I can conjure up. The content remains realistic in spite of the limited historical accounts. What is given, I jot down and fill in the holes.
Soundtrack: I said that inspiration can come from music. Well, I have an ever-growing playlist to enhance my focus. I’m writing something that has yet to be told about someone we all know. I won’t go into details at the moment. But I will emphasize that, if it isn’t instinctive or from the gut, it isn’t worth exploring on my Google drive. It triggers my imagination and everything beyond that.
Dreams: Because I’m so invested, the scenes or characters invoke into my subconscious, even when unconscious. However, this is rare for me as my dreams considered more than unorthodox. For the average person, the remaining thoughts as they ease into the first REM circle are things like what needs to be done, bills that need to be paid, or upcoming plans. Et cetera, Et cetera. For me, my story runs wild, inherently lulling me to sleep.
I don’t make schedules but I make sure to have one task done: complete one chapter each month at the bare minimum. Goals nudge me in the right direction, but schedules can push me into a place where my story won’t be told the way it should be. So I use the tactics above to drive it home. Because the first installment is already one hundred pages completed and by the end of this year I plan to finish the beginning.
~Katie, The Once & Future Voyager
Every adventure is a chance to live the way you dream.