My first novel, Shadow Cat just sort of came about. I got an idea for a character, which formed into a storyline, then blossomed into a full length novel. I just wrote until I got to the end, developing the story as it fell upon paper. And when I finished, I had one heck of a mess. 🙂 It took me longer to rewrite and edit the book than it took to get the words on paper in the first place. But eventually I refined and completed it.
Somewhere along the editing, I came across a great blog by Jordan McCollum The Hero (and Heroine)’s Journey–Hero’s Journey in romance.I found it to be an excellent method for starting and avoiding writer’s block. Now I have a few stories I’ve outlined using that process. It’s become a cataloging sort of system for me, so I don’t forget the great ideas I have floating in my head. So, that’s just the basic–the outline.
A few days ago, I sifted through Akiane‘s website (child prodigy) and came across videos of her painting. It reminded me of my own writing techniques and provided a visual representation of my process (not saying my writing compares to her artwork or anything like that). I start with something simple and add layer upon layer until it’s finished.
She sits before her blank canvas (empty doc file), and an image (story) appears before her. Pulling out her chalk she sketches (outlines) the rough details before they fade from her memory, setting the foundation for a beautiful piece of work. The groundwork laid, she grabs her palette and brush (thesaurus and dictionary) and smears a glob of paint (first line) on the fabric (document), spreading it until it forms a cheek (paragraph). Another splash of color around the eyes (new paragraph) adds dimensions, but it needs more… it needs to blend (flow). She smudges the two colors, blurring (creating a bridge between sentences) until she no longer has separate entities (paragraphs/chapter)–a cheek, an eye, a chin, but a complete face (chapter/story). The image (chapter/story) is not quite realistic, the color (sentence) aren’t right. She tweaks (edits) it, adds more color. Beautiful. Pulling out her fine brush, she adds details (adjectives, power words) and replaces dull colors (inactive verbs) for brighter ones (active verbs) until she achieves the exact look and texture she wants.
She’s evolved her vague sketch (outline) to a finished painting (novel), a masterpiece. Or something like that.