The Creative Flow: How I Figure Out What to Write

For the past couple of weeks, you’ve graciously listened to my brain droppings about various aspects of the publishing industry (thank you!), and books I’ve read. It hit me the other day that, since my blog is primarily about my writing life, then perhaps I should actually write about my writing life.

One of the questions I get the most is, “How do you think up these things?” In addition to having an extremely vivid imagination (a must for fiction writers) and a slightly cynical view of the world, it’s not hard to come up with plots.

(Writing them is the hard part…but that’s another post for another day. :D)

Seriously: I get my inspiration from the news, random comments from people, Facebook memes…whatever works. I also dig in the crates for classics, and think about how they would be refashioned in this modern age (I’m a fan of Shakespeare, so he provides endless fodder). Then I start kicking around the “what ifs”. Once I hit upon a theme that resonates within, I start plotting it out. Characters, their backstories, how I want the story to end, is it a one-off novel or a series…things like that.

Oh, I also figure out the genre. Some stories are very obvious in how they should be written; others can go different ways, so I need to figure out the best way. Depending on my mood, I may go for the sure shot (a genre in which I’m strong, like fiction or thrillers) or try to challenge myself in a genre in which I’m not (science fiction/speculative fiction).

The format is important too. The late, great Octavia Butler once said in an interview that some stories are meant to be books, and some are meant to be short stories. I didn’t realize that until I started revisiting some earlier, half-done stuff and figured out that I was blocked on some of them because of this very principle: some novels should have been short stories, and some short stories should become novels. Since I like to write and expound upon a broad canvas, it’s easy for me to write a novel. Writing a short story, however, takes a talent I have not yet mastered.

Finally, I start writing the first draft. More on that in an upcoming post.

Thanks for stopping by.