The Stages of Writing

My writing habits are somewhat set. The process is very much set, or at least it has been for the past five years or so.

First, I am worried because I have no ideas. What will I do when I finish my current project? Am I tapped dry?

2. Ambushed by a new idea at the nearly worst possible moment.

2a. Start doing research for the idea while fighting to finish the WIP. This might not always happen if conditions are “right” or the story is a short.

3. Start writing. Characters, setting, general plot are in place and I’m feeling good.

4. Story hums along.

5. Panic begins to nibble at the edges because I have no idea what just happened, the characters have taken on lives of their own, and there is no way I’ll come up with enough words.

6. Plodding through the middle, no end in sight, this is going to be a disaster.  I’ll never write enough words.

7. Abrupt onset plot attacks, story leaps ahead and I know the ending. Now I just have to get there.

8. Oh no, this is going to be too long, far too long!

9. The end is in sight!

9a. Oh no, not a sequel, this was supposed to be a three book series, stop, stop! OR

9b. What do I do next? I’m out of stories. I’m dooooomed! OR

9c. Bad idea, shoo! No, get away, scat, shoo, I have to finish this book, I’ll get to you later. Hey, put that down, scram!

10. Yeah! I’m done!

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8 thoughts on “The Stages of Writing

    • Monday I decided it that a comedy about a highschool riot control club, in the style of a Japanese action harem light novel, would be fun.

      Wednesday I started planning a project where the antagonist murders a bare minimum of around 200k for not meeting spec.

      I’m a little worried about what I’ll come up with Friday.

    • Fortunately, my attempt at a romance (gothic) failed when the main character glowered at me and said, “I am not that stupid.”

      • Is there a specific reason for the unwritten rule that all main characters in a romance have to be so stupid their head hurts? Probably the main reason I don’t read romances isn’t because they are gooey romances… it is because I would rather see the main characters die in painful, messy ways; than get the happily ever after they so obviously don’t deserve.

      • bearcat,
        Same reason porn doesn’t tend to have characters making the practical case for strict monogamy as a way to minimize the spread of disease. Porn’s primary purpose is to inspire a certain kind of excitement, and things orthogonal or contrary tend to be neglected or deliberately not included.

        Romance(modern definition) readers seem to want characters making decisions in a certain space on the basis of emotion, with overwhelming emotion being a positive quality. Emotion is not the wisest foundation for all decisions.

        Given that love as a basis for marriage is a modern concept, in theory one could have a genre about people making choices in that decision space based on tradition, business, and wise calculation. However, that genre would have a different audience that it reaches in a different way. Quite possibly that market could be found, but you would need a different set of tools.

  1. bearcat – yes, there is. (Bet you weren’t expecting that, were you?)

    The reason is that romances, like horror, follow an emotional plot arc, not a stuff-happens plot arc. The important things in romance are two people getting together, and overcoming obstacles to fall in love, often encapsulated as “Boy meets girl. Boy loses girl. Boy gets girl back. Happily Ever After.” If the author is hitting all the right emotional notes, and giving the boy (or girl) a chance to have misunderstandings drive them apart, followed by giving them a chance to prove to each other that they are committed / in love / in lust (wait, no, that’s erotica), then whether or not the vestigial “Stuff happens” plot makes sense or everyone’s been hit with the idiot ball doesn’t really matter, to most readers.

    Now, some authors go above and beyond the call of duty and make sure that the characters aren’t idiots. But there’s no real extra reward for doing so, and no drawback for not doing so, if all the emotional notes were hit. Therefore, most authors in romance will have idiot-ball characters & plots, just like most characters in chick lit will be shallow, flighty, idiot-ball-carrying ditzes.

    For two that you may enjoy: Rosalind James does New Zealand-based contemporary romances that do not have idiot plots, and Lois Bujold has a fantasy romance (Passage) that’s also pretty spiffy. Even when the heroine does something idiotic, it’s for understandable reasons, and she learns and grows.

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