Image from Science Daily
Craig here today, and the topic is daydreaming. As a speculative fiction author, daydreaming is paramount to the process. We dwell upon the idea of “What If” and it’s important, but daydreaming often gets overlooked.
Of course, I can only talk about my process and you might have to adjust to suit your own methods. First I want to set the stage a bit.
I’ve posted here before about my push feeds. These are subscription services to news that might help me create a story some day. Because of the fiction I write, mine are about aliens, voodoo, witchcraft, archeology, and cryptids to name a few. These are like collecting seeds. Nothing much happens with them at this point.
What works for me is quiet solitude. Many of my best ideas have come from commuting to work in the dark, with the radio off. My best method is to find some solitude in the National Forest and just let my mind wander. Your method might differ, maybe it’s the shower, or a cup of tea on an evening patio.
This attracts my Muse, Lorelei. She gives me ideas of what might happen based upon those news bits I read. The solitude is like planting the seeds, and Lorelei brings the sunshine.
When I have a vignette or partial plot in mind, I make some notes as soon as I can. I don’t generally lug my iPad around, but the notes app is on my phone too. This is where it gets complicated, because they can stay that way for years. I have some in a living document that are that old.
Eventually, some of these ideas keep coming around, and I can expand upon them. At this point I generally start a storyboard, my preferred method of outlining. I have five partial outlines going right now. Two are intended to be novellas and three are novels. Some of these are a couple of years old.
Another day, another commute, and on occasion I will add an index card to a storyboard. At some point they start looking like a complete outline. If you’re getting the idea that it sometimes takes years to get to the point of drafting one of these, you’re right.
I’m relatively new to this lengthy process, and I got there by outlining four stories over a year ago. I have a stockpile of ideas that appeal to me and they’re already outlined. Time is an ally in this process. Charging forward with a half-baked concept doesn’t lead to a good product. Better ideas and plot twists, even a supporting character or two tend to come along with time.
I can see how some of these stories might never get written. I’m okay with that. Some of them may mature after a decade of daydreaming, and I’m okay with that too. It’s possible that a couple of them might merge into a better story that includes elements of both. It’s kind of like “no wine before its time,” which was an old ad campaign somewhere.
There have been stories that go right to the front of the line. I have one now that’s screaming to get written. I have to wonder, if I had jumped right into one of my immature plots, would I have missed this idea completely?
I am a plotter, but not like you might think. I like to detail the plot points I want, and free-write between the markers. This allows new ideas and characters to take over in the drafting phase. Drafting and outlining isn’t the topic today though.
Daydreaming is important. Find some time to dwell on your plot and characters, maybe have a new idea or two. If you keep decent notes, you might find a whole new novel after some time.
A campfire and a cold beer does it for me. Maybe you prefer old disco music and gummy bears. You do you.