Wax Poetic: On Brainstorming

Snoopy, one of my favorite writers. :)

Snoopy, one of my favorite writers. 🙂 by Charles Schulz

I think I have admitted before that I am notorious for writing without a plan.  At least, that is how I start.

Most often, my stories began with the vaguest flicker of an idea.

The most stark example of all, would be my first blog post – Regrets.  The entirety of the start of my Effy-Effy saga came about one night thinking about the internal conflict of my beloved Effy as a DK.  When I wrote that, I had no idea DK-Effy would go on to meet the Children of Greymane.  I had no idea DK-Effy would meet her living self.  I had no idea where it was going, and certainly no idea of where it would end.  (And of course, in fantasy, I use the term “end” very loosely.)

Many times, this method works well for me… eventually.  But it sure does prove frustrating while I am still brainstorming.  Ideas never come fast enough!

Usually, it is the most random happening that sparks my continuation forward – something I see (for perhaps the 1000st time) in WoW, something that happens in RL, something I read in another blog, something I notice on Twitter or Facebook.

I keep a small 6×9 notebook with me at all times.  It graces my desk.  It rides along in my purse (and damn anything else might not fit because of it!).  And it always has an accompanying pen of varying color.  You never know when you might need a piece of paper for a phone number or an address or a tiny reminder.  But mostly I keep it with me because you never know when an idea might hit you!

My notebook is full of random scribbles – outfit pieces, To-Do type stuff, reminders, and story idea flickers.  I notate personality snippets, things I need to ponder further, chronological character progression (most particularly with Lazheward, who I recently touched back on because of the general muddle of those thoughts), things to look up later, and random dialogue.

For a while, I did try and completely move all of my note taking to Google Drive.  This has worked well for organizational purposes, but I am far too set in my ways, far too fond of pen and paper.  Since my stories rarely ever begin as a pen and paper venture any longer, I think noting taking in that matter serves to mostly satisfy the need.

I am old school.  I like things the way I like them.  Don’t change them on me.  <glares at Google Reader>

In middle school and forward, when I first started writing stories – mostly fantasy but also some short pieces inspired by my frequent childhood nightmares and insomnia – I had masses of full-size 5-subject notebooks.  All were full of various stories, most of which never had conclusions, but all with their own separate subject to start them.

I remember writing on the bus to school, during lunch, sneaking bits when my school work was finished towards the end of a class.

It seems my format for brainstorming and writing has never really changed.

The beautiful part about typing my stories now is that it allows me a much easier means of editing.  Since many of my stories change subtly as they develop, I am quite particular about going back and changing needed bits to smooth them out.  Because I have a tendency to endlessly edit as I write anyway, this has never proved a hurdle for me.  Most times, I start a writing session by reading some of what came before, sometimes all of it, just to get myself back into the mindset and the characters and to reaffirm my place.

The only time it proves frustrating is when I get stuck, waiting for my next bit of inspiration.  Usually this leads to me rereading what I have written, whilst editing it, numerous times without really pushing forward.

This is where I find myself now, hence why I am blogging about it to all of you.

Getting stuck eventually leads to me rushing back to my notes.  I read them and see if there is a spark.  If still nothing, I try and research similar things to what I was writing, various WoW lore via Wiki pages, quest information (depending on what I am working on), and other blogs as well as my own.

I do not hesitate to verify items I am writing to my own work or with other source pieces.  As a writer of what is considered fan fiction, authenticity is very important to me (even if I may on occasion make stuff up when there is no source – ie. dragon naming).

If I still came back with nothing, then it is back to WoW and reading until I can renew the spark and continue forward.

Perhap, just perhaps, it would be more helpful to me to plan out the entirety of my stories before I commence?  Honestly, that is when I am most likely to lose focus.  Even if the story is only “written” inside my head, if it sits there too long without making it to paper/document, I feel it start to become stale.  I can only tell a tale to myself so many times before it grows old.  It works much better for me when I am as surprised by a twist in events as my readers are.

I mean, who would have ever thought Effy and Laz would have concluded Love and Sacrifice as they did!  I certainly did not when I started!

So this is where I sit with part three of Descending Twilight.  I think my next course is to just write separate, disjointed introductions to everyone, and figure out how to stuff them in later.  Otherwise, I am going to edit the current 3k words to death.  😛

Or maybe, I should throw everything to the winds, and start serializing all my pieces like I did with As the Sun Sets.  Does that work better for people?  I know sometimes I have difficultly reading through really long blog posts and I probably miss important stuff, even though most of the time I read something interesting no matter how long it is.

I may have to do some research into what the average blog reading attention span is, and try and cut down my posts to something more bit sized.  Hmm.

~ Effy


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