My husband & co-conspirator, Jim Zub, has been blogging about his writing process over the last couple of days. Considering that Jim manages to be a prolific writer on top of juggling a hectic work schedule, he’s got some good ideas on how to get writing done when you’re fitting it in to tiny slices around the rest of your life:
I’m a story planning junkie. I know there are people who just dive in and start writing ‘page 1′ without any idea where things will go, letting the muses kiss their fingertips clattering along the keyboard, but I’m not one of those people. I plan a lot of the story structure up front and it’s time consuming, but once that idea and pacing phase is done I write fearlessly because I know the overall plan and won’t lose my way. I can clearly visualize scenes and anticipate how they’re going to play out, driving me to get to them. If I come up with better ideas along the way or inspiration strikes a scene, I can work it into the structure and adapt. I rarely need to cut or heavily revise material because I’ve built a solid story foundation to work from.
So, how does that work?
The first thing I do is brainstorm a series of point form ‘things’ – facts that need to be relayed to the reader so the story makes sense – character traits, settings, antagonists, goals, character changes or revelations. It’s a giant jumble of story ideas, characters and key moments – the raw story ingredients all piled up.
Then, I look at the length of my story. If it’s a work-for-hire comic story then the format is probably a set number of pages. If it’s my own project then I rough out how much space I think I’ll need to make it work (number of issues or number of pages for a self-contained graphic novel). Once I know the number of issues/chapters I can start to plug in my jumbled pile of elements and get a sense of story flow.