Blogumentary: Step 2 – Prewriting

First, let me quickly address the long hiatus.  Without getting into details, I have been overwhelmed with projects and life matters.  It happens.  I haven’t forgotten about, or given up on my writing.  I am still working on projects, even if it is at a snail’s pace.

I should also note that my zombie novel has been placed on the back burner for a while.  The ideas for my first book rapidly turned into a trilogy, and that is something that I am just not quite ready to take on.  In the meantime, I have been working on a non-fiction short story, more fictional short stories, and have been developing another idea for a single, stand-alone novel that I can write for my first book – something that is manageable and not as intimidating as a trilogy.  Let me assure you though, the ideas I have for the zombie trilogy are very solid and I am excited to see how they turn out.  Anyway, without further adieu, let’s get back to the post…

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When I started to come to the realization that I would finally commit myself to writing a book, I also decided that it might be cool to write about the process itself and track my progress.  What I have learned through searches on the intrawebz and conversations with authors, is that there is no “right way” to write a book.  That was my biggest first impression once I wrapped my head around the project and got motivated.

After spending a few weeks researching and collecting more information than I will ever use, it’s time to move onto the next step.  Even though this post is listed as step 2, I suppose, technically, it could/should be listed as step 3 or 4.  Step 1 would have been the brainstorming part where I developed the idea that turned into the plot.  Step 2 would have been actively seeking out guidance from people with experience.  (This step would mainly apply only due to the fact that I have no experience.  I would assume that after completion of my first project, this step may not be completely necessary in the future.)  Then research would be step 3.  Like I said before though, every writer does things their own way.

With the technicalities out of the way, let’s get back on track.  We’ll just ignore the fact that I’m not very good at counting.

For the purpose of this blog, what will be referred to as Step 2 will be something called “prewriting.”  Prior to my first conversation with a published author I had never even heard this term, even though it was a step that I had already begun through my natural progression.  It was very encouraging to learn that what seemed like a natural place to start for me was actually a good place to start in academia-land!

Prewriting is really a pretty simple concept, but much more complicated in reality.  The idea of prewriting, is essentially expounding on brainstorming.  It’s a step between that and actually writing the story.  This is where you create and develop the setting, plot, and characters.  I recommend writing down absolutely everything that comes to mind.  Not every thought will be useful, or even good for that matter, but it can help guide you in another direction that could turn out to be perfect for the story progression.  Or, it could combine with another relatively useless thought to create a key plot point or character trait.

So far, I have started my prewriting projects with several major sections.

  • Characters – This is where I list the characters of the story.  I then fill out a biography for each one, including physical traits, personal background, likes/dislikes, strengths/weaknesses, etc.
  • Plot – I use this section to write a very brief synopsis of the main events in 1-2 paragraphs.  I focus on where the story takes place, what sets the main conflict in motion, and how it is resolved.
  • Conflicts – This is where I start creating a list of conflicts that will occur throughout the story.  Internal conflicts have to do with characters having to make tough choices based on their situation versus their morals.  External conflicts would be characters versus each other or against their environment.
  • Questions – I like to list any questions that I can think of regarding the plot or potential story-line issues.  If I have a thought pertaining to a particular detail, but I haven’t figured out a reason for that detail, then I’ll question myself about it.  I hope this step will help resolve any holes in the plot or eliminate some spots where the reader might get lost or wonder why/how something happened.
  • Titles – This one is pretty self-explanatory.  I make a list of possible titles.  Rarely, does a title jump out of nowhere right off the bat.  If you’re lucky enough for that to happen, then good for you.  So far for me, I have combined separate title ideas to form a singular title that I like, or a title will come to me from the story itself.

I also recommend not deleting ideas that don’t appear to be useful.  Just because your story goes in a different direction than a particular thought, or an idea contradicts another idea that is crucial to the plot doesn’t mean that it can’t be revisited at a later date, or maybe even used for a completely different story altogether.  The number 1 take-away from my first meeting with a published author was simply to write.  If something crosses your mind, then write it down.

Just keep writing.

Thank you, that is all.

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