I have a LOT of books on the craft of writing. (I’m currently packing for a move; a painful reminder of exactly how many books I own.) Craft is a subject I never tire of, in part because I’m eternally seeking to grow. I’m also guilty of eternally seeking the magic bullet; something to make the creative process easier. Or at least less messy. (I *know* it’s out there. I BELIEVE it exists. I bet Stephen King probably has it.)
At the beginning of each new writing project, I always find that the tools that worked the last time no longer function. It’s just how my process works. (Unrelated aside: Honor your writing process! Yes, you can change it, but in the moment always love it. It’s yours!) Thankfully, I have a variety of methods for plotting, for fleshing out characters, for triangulating goal-motivation-conflict, etc. Some methods are blessedly short and sweet; others are laborious. If the story is crystal clear in my head, then a brief plotting system is perfect. But when the story idea is hazy, a more detailed plotting technique helps flesh it out.
I store my rag tag collection of tried-and-true worksheets/forms in a tabbed, 3-ring binder. Sections include: CHARACTERS, GMC, PLOT, SCENE/SEQUEL, SETTING, REVISION. Tried-and-true is a crucial differentiation. Not just any/every form makes the cut. A true handbook is not storage; it’s a distillation. These are forms I’ve collected and used over a twenty year span. (Yes, I’ve been at this a loooong time.) While many forms have come from books or conference handouts, a few are originals I’ve devised, then tweaked, to fit me. (OK, I admit it; I’m a checklist junkie.)
I frequently refer to this handbook as my writer’s ‘bible’. Just flipping through it inspires me; gets my creative sparks a sparkin’. (Hmmm. Maybe this is what a magic bullet looks like…) In future blogs I’ll share more of what’s inside each specific section.
Your turn. Go. Write. Make sparks. (And honor your process!)