current music: Shrek soundtrack
current mood: a shining calm
A veritable “step one” for any writing project I take on is asking these questions:
Is this main character someone I want to spend massive amounts of time writing? Thinking about? Giving precious action to? Does she scare me? Make me mad? Make me proud? Do I want to live like her? Live vicariously through her? Live nothing like her?
Is my world fascinating? Are there plants and animals in it that make me gasp? Is it pretty? If it’s not pretty, is there some other visceral gut reaction to it? Am I grateful I don’t live there? Or jealous that I’m stuck on this earth, this dimension?
Plot, to me, is flexible, easily changeable. It’s the action, and as the puppeteer of my characters, I can pull their strings however I need to.
But the characters themselves? They are my dancers. And the setting is my stage. Action won’t matter unless the dancers and stage are interesting. The script can always be changed.
Write what you love. Write about the worlds that populate your daydreams and the characters that haunt your nights. How can anyone expect to fill three hundred pages of writing about a world that is humdrum?
I call it “step one” because a fire in your belly is a hell of a motivator. Part of being a writer, and a major factor in whether or not you’ll ever be published, is your work discipline. You have to write, and rewrite, and cut and slash and write more. Unwrite. Edit. Spend hours and days and potentially years in the world you make.
If you’re making worlds and characters that you love, that discipline takes care of itself. Writing about your dancers and stage doesn’t feel like work (i.e., your punishment for creativity); it feels like a reward.
Step one: choose to write a world you love. Choose to populate your works with people you love. or love to hate.
Either you want to spend time in the worlds you make, or you don’t.