Cats are loving, dogs are hateful

December 13, 2018
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In What the [] is a Megalania? The Idea Journal, I discussed gathering ideas for stories. I’ve also talked about the process Terry Brooks uses for sitting with ideas. What happens when I put these ideas to use?

The world splits open. Time and space become one. Up is down, down is up. Cats are loving and dogs are hateful. That’s what happens, in a nutshell.

When I put my fingers to the keyboard, I already have a plot outlined in detail. I don’t write character backgrounds and descriptions.

It’s the one thing I’m pretty loose with. The outline isn’t there to be the exact story. It’s there as a guideline.

I want to know where the story starts. What happens in scene one? What characters are present? How do I get to the next scene? Rinse and repeat until I get to the final scene. The outline gives me every scene and the details of that scene.

Before I write a scene, I play it like a movie in my head. I already know what happens when I sit at the keyboard. My mind has all of the potential dialogue and action mapped, again this isn’t in the outline. The outline is the guide. The mind is the experience.

My fingers hit the keys and I hit play on the movie.

This is where the magic happens.

As the movie plays, the scenes play out almost exactly like the outline. Characters appear as expected. They take on personalities and then… they take control. The characters begin to run the story. Their features appear more as I write. For Fury, I envisioned Bonnie one way, she forced me to write her another.

It’s magical.

The story stays on point because you have an outline. If the characters decide to do anything that doesn’t fit, you press rewind on your mind and replay the scene. For me, the things the characters do almost always fits, because I have the outline in place. My subconscious knows where things need to end up and even though the characters aren’t what I thought, they stick to the story.

This ends up with something beautiful.

With Fury, the characters revealed things to me that I didn’t know about them. I knew I had plans to write multiple stories, but I didn’t know what those stories would be. Griswold and his gang opened up the door to Greed. Bonnie’s background, not yet written at the time of this entry, revealed itself and in all honesty, shocked the hell out of me. It was perfect. I now know what happens to Andy, Brad, and Henry. They told me their stories, while being in my story.

This means I have more stories to write and more for you to read. Whatever your creative process is, make sure it works for you. For me, it took some experimentation, but I figured out that I need several things:

1) I sit with my ideas until I have them completely visualized.
2) I create a scene outline. I’ll talk more about this in another entry.
3) I start writing, using the outline as a guide.
4) I give the characters freedom. They have the freedom to do whatever they want in my mind, provided it moves the story forward.

The first time a character deviated from what I had planned, I was filled with wonder. How could this happen? It is absolutely magical to see them take on a life of their own. Don’t force them into a pre-written description. You should know a few things about them, and I’ll talk about that in my upcoming World Building entry, but don’t force them. They’ll surprise you by creating their own backgrounds and personalities.

Let your fingers write, while you watch the movie unfold in your mind.

— Will

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