Yesterday we talked about how to develop your primary conflict. Once you have this in place, it enables you to develop your characters and give them a focus for every scene. I work from a loose outline, and from that I try to figure out what kind of scene will best move the story forward. I guess you could say I’m part plotter, part panster. Because once I get into the scene, I tend to let my characters take over, and tell me where they want to go with it. I don’t spend a lot of time arguing with them at this point. If it feels like it will work, I write it. I can always go back and change it later once I have an idea of the overall direction and structure of the book.
So my second step is to just put my behind in the chair and write. I write non-stop, until I get to the end of the book. This can take weeks, usually months, depending on how much writing time Life allows me. But write I do. Just write. I don’t stop to pretty anything up or correct typos or look up things for research. I’ll leave a big blank space with (look up means of poisoning cows here) and keep writing.
At this point, all I’m doing is putting down the bare bones of the story, so it’s ninety percent dialogue. Since dialogue is action, it’s the quickest way to get a story moving, or to get your characters from point A to point B. I try to drop the reader in at the latest point I can in the scene, and get the reader out as soon as my character’s mission is accomplished. There’s no room for stage directions or emotions at this point, because those are subject to change. I just want to see where the story is going.
Then, when it’s done, I have more than a synopsis, but less than a book. Much less than a book. More like a novella. But I at least have something solid to work with. Come back tomorrow to learn how I flesh out the scenes and characters.