How do you write your books?
Believe it or not, folks really do ask that question. Writing is not an easy job, and producing one of my novels requires around two years of steady (all right, mostly on-off, but kinda-sorta steady) thinking, researching, writing and re-writing. Lots of re-writing.
In all truth, my contribution to these stories is a very small part of the project. Important – at least I’m told it’s important, but for all that a very small part of the process of writing.
Because I don’t write by myself. I don’t mean that I have a staff of hack writers. I wouldn’t know what to do with them, if I did. I do the creative thinking, at least at the beginning. And all of the typing. And deleting, and formatting and re-formatting of the text.
But the characters write their parts. They decide on what has to be done. Sometimes they argue among themselves, but that’s usually quickly resolved.
The environment plays a big part in the story, too. The roads, the shopping centers, the design of Terry’s office, the layout of his hotel room, what kind of vehicle he’s driving, that sort of thing. The layout of the city he’s working in plays a big part in these stories. I don’t make these things up, folks. Or, I don’t make most of these things up. It’s just too much trouble keeping track of them when I’ve got an entire world filled with stuff I can make use of.
The environment shapes the story. It provides the backdrop and the scope for the lives and actions of my characters.
The climate plays a big part in any story, or it should. Is it January in Tampa, and pouring rain, or summer in the Everglades? Are the roads slippery from the grease and rubber caked into the surface? Climate should play a big part in the decisions the characters make and how they react to their changing situation.
And, of course, there’s the ever-present plot. Or not. Frankly, I don’t care all that much about plotting in my stories. I do care a great deal about how my characters react to the situations I put them in, and the decisions they make and the prices they inevitably have to pay for having made those decisions.
I don’t bother with a plot outline. I find it very restricting. I do care about my characters. My characters drive the stories I write. Not some damn plot outline.
Have a Happy and Safe New Year!