In addition to having wonderful writers at Murderati, we also have several who are superb writing teachers.
I am not one of them.
This isn’t false humility; it’s a simple fact. I have never spent much time analyzing my writing process. As a matter of fact, I have a really difficult time even trying to. I read our Murderati members’ — and others’ — fabulous posts on building climaxes, structures, big concepts and, each time, I think I’m finally ready to jump in and learn how to write! Over the years, I’ve enthusiastically signed up for several classes and . . . after about the second or third one, I’m back where I started: utterly befuddled.
I just don’t approach my writing in an analytical way though I admire the hell out of people who do.
But last week one of the psychiatrists at work approached me about collaborating on an article about creativity and storytelling from the therapist’s and the writer’s perspective. And for some reason, I actually liked the possibility of looking at my own process.
Right now, I don’t have much of a framework upon which to hang any concepts. However, I do know:
- I start most of my stories with a broad theme (or a name) that intrigues me:
- · The chile pepper industry in NM and the conflicts between big ag and small farmers
- · A first-hand experience of divorce based on a book I read about “Rebuilding”
- · An overweight Midwestern farmer’s wife who uses small magic without realizing it
- · A woman named Guadalupe Nakamura
No questions. No conflicts to drive the story forward or give it much shape. Just interesting ideas to explore.
- Voice is the most important thing to me. So I spend a lot of time getting to know my character(s). I go in as deeply as I can and write. I often talk aloud to hear the character’s cadence and close my eyes to see that person’s world, to smell it and taste it and hear it. I sit at the computer and feel the emotions that tighten my character’s stomach, the ones that make her heart beat faster or her skin tingle. I let myself experience that full reality as much as possible.
If I’m true to this second step, the authenticity of the character shines through in my writing. However, if I think about audience at this point or whether my new creation will “sell,” both the character and I are in big trouble.
So those are the first two steps in my process . . . I think.
How about you?
Do you know how you write? Have you thought about it?