|>>|| No. 6491
I've had an idea for a book since around 2012/2013, I'd been letting it 'compost', as I think the phrase goes, for around 2 years, just fleshing out the backstory, setting, potential plot lines - everything but the characters. I hadn't been trained, and I'd try to absorb any information I could find online that would improve my technique. I started writing characters in specific situations an exercise, something I've been doing again recently, because I'd neglected just how important one character trait could end up being to drive the book forward. I was focusing first on plot points, whereas now I'm focusing on the characters first, with a loose plot and the ending in mind, and despite having a lot of notes and a lot in mind, for me (and I'd imagine most writers, but I don't know any) there's always going to be some spontaneity whilst writing in which the characters will behave in a way and so end up changing what you had planned. That's the stuff that makes it particularly fun and engaging for me.
I've since had a couple of other ideas for novels, and I don't know if this one is the right one to start with, as it's fairly (don't want to say it but) epic in scope and in scale. Speaking of scope, I'd tried to construct my notes using the snowflake method, but it didn't work for me. Now I tend to think of the themes, the mood of what I'm writing, and what I'm trying to make the reader feel. From there the rest grows much more organically, before it felt like I was forcing it. Knowing the themes, I can build characters that would best experience those themes, carrying the emotional intensity of the novel and allowing the reader to relate. I already had the story in mind, so then it's backdrop, setting, and plot points, followed by research. Then I'll get some prose done, and revisit and edit it some time later, when I'm not as prescient on what I was trying to achieve, so I have a better idea of if it works or not - not including loose threads to be tied up later.
There's plenty of ways to approach writing a book, but arriving at the above method after some trial and error has improved both my understanding of how to construct the writing, putting myself in the position of the reader, and also just writing for at least an hour, whenever possible, really helps. Even if it's shit, you can go back and revise it, and if it's utter garbage, at least you've made that mistake and can move away from it.