I grow ideas in stages. Usually, I’ll get a peek at a character or a scene plays through my dreams, mind and I write that down. I let that simmer awhile until another piece comes to me. And another. Each time letting the idea build in my subconscious. Sometime months go by without anything more. Sometimes years. All at once, another idea will occur to me. Once the idea has caught my attention again at this point, I begin to play with the idea.
Like my future project. I started with an idea. From there, I went on to working on the characters. I’m still going through their profiles. I ask them questions after finding their greatest need and their greatest fear. The questions aren’t too complicated. Just things meant to get to know the character. Sometimes, the questions don’t work. They’re meant to get at their personality but a lot of time, until I get into the character’s skin, the questions just don’t matter. When I write a scene from their viewpoint, that’s when things start to come together.
Next, I begin working on setting. Sometimes, that means a map of sorts. I will look at real maps and then draw some of the countries in the way I think might work. Once I have the basis for what the countries look like, I name cities, towns, lakes, etc. I go deeper into the map until I get the town or city I want and begin to visualize the interior of each, naming the streets if necessary, figuring out my character’s walk from point A to point B. This helps, of course, for scenes. Right now, on my current project, I don’t have a world map because it’s set in the U.S. however, there is a map of the school campus. I’ve drawn the buildings as I imagine them. I’ve also included the driveways, named the buildings, and I need to include sidewalks to and from the buildings. Other things will be drawn in. Like the lake, any benches, etc. I will go deeper into the interior as I move along, drawing hallways, where classes are, dorm rooms etc. I may also include favorite haunts for the students.
Sometimes ideas fizzle as the other buildings and campus have for me now. I’ve decided to go with one building. The rest will be recycled in another tale. That’s the thing with ideas, no matter what you connect them with at first, at one point or another, they may just not work out and you’re either back to the drawing board or decide to use them elsewhere. I’m back to figuring more about the who and whys of my characters. Each has to have a reason, a twist that makes them special. Sometimes even background characters can be really interesting given a certain quirk. So, there you have it. I build in waves. One thing will catch my interest, hold it while I explore my options, then I’ll move on to the next. That’s how I grow my ideas.
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