As many of you know, my book Crowning Heaven is currently out to the first round of beta readers. What most of you probably don’t know is that this is (was) my first real writing break in several years…the first time since 2010 that I haven’t had planned out which story to write next. I was planning to enjoy that break for at least a month, possibly two. If I felt like dabbling a little with other stories, so be it, but I wasn’t really going to commit.
That lasted a full fifteen days.
An inkling of an idea, a song, and a classy-looking notebook later, I am over 2,000 words into my next epic.
So, since my head is full of story planning anyway, I thought this would be the perfect time to give you a little snapshot of what goes on in my head when I begin a new story.
Pray—I love new stories, and I am always thinking of them. While this can be a good thing (never a lack of things to work on!) it also presents a challenge: is this something the Lord is laying on my heart, or am I just doing this for myself?
Make a Pinterest board—Most of you are probably better at this than I am. I usually just browse boards in my general genre (fantasy, dystopian, or in the time period if it’s historical) and pin any picture, setting, quote, or actor that catches my eye. Even if I don’t end up using it, it all helps make up the general impression I need in my own head.
Cast characters—For me this is crucial. I’m visual, and a face is key to understanding who I am working with.
Create a story playlist—For my current story, there is a lot of opera. For Crowning Heaven I used a lot of movie scores and Thomas Bergersen.
Collect ideas—I start a notebook or a Word document where I put any random ideas, snippets of dialogue that come to mind, or fragments of outline.
Start writing—I usually start writing as soon as I can. For me, to wait is to lose very precious inspiration that comes with the start of a book. If I wait too long I overthink it and the story goes nowhere.
Oftentimes I purposely don’t plan too far ahead in my story. Yes, I already have a faint inkling of how the end will go, and I definitely know some major plot points that are going to take place, but I enjoy having a great deal of unknown ahead of me.
What is your process when starting a story? I would love to hear how you do it!