Exploring the Story

I woke to a heavy frost and 28°F this morning. I took the dog out, slid a bit on the frost, and headed to the barn (in PJs and winter coat) to feed the ponies and let them outside. The sun, low on the horizon, cast rays of brilliance along the frost, causing it to sparkle and gleam. It was a glorious morning.

By Rafał Chałgasiewicz (Own work), CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7983421
By Rafał Chałgasiewicz (Own work), CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7983421

I only logged about 1,100 words into NaNoWriMo this morning, but I actually spent several hours working on the story. When I began, I had no idea where it was going. I am now seeing a path, an ending, and enough of a middle to move forward. Today, I spent quite a bit of time writing up quick character sketches, setting descriptions, and jotting a few notes about my world and its destiny.

I’ll be doing more note-making. I love Scrivener for that; I can keep all my notes, my research, and my ideas right in the program, where I can check back to remind myself of where I had planned to travel. Of course, most often the story itself will eventually take me elsewhere.

Writing, for me, is often like an archaeological dig. I start out delving into what I think will be, and find new discoveries along the way that change my whole perspective, teach me about the people involved, and rewrite the world’s history. I enjoy getting to know my world and its characters as much as I enjoy letting them tell me where they want to go, and how they want to get there.

I used to do interviews with my characters, and have been thinking about trying that with this story. I would ask them key questions and just let them respond, as if channeling their words without trying to engage my own brain in the process. It was a lot of fun, and added to the depth of the characters.

This particular story also takes place on a world that is unfamiliar to me. I’m having a good time exploring it, figuring out how it got to be the way it is, and where it might be going from here. With the current state of my brain, I really should be writing all that down, and that will be a big part of my note-taking process, I’m sure.

How do you build your worlds and create your characters? Do you plan them out in careful detail, or let them tell you who, what, and where they are? I’d love to hear from you in the comments, either here or on Facebook.


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