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Subject:  Re: Advice for a Beginner Date:  9/24/2003  11:14 AM
Author:  Chapman208 Number:  2374 of 4871

>>>>Your mind is never filled with characters and their assorted adventures? You have never had the need to write a story because otherwise your head might explode? You have never read a book and been inspired to write an adventure in the same world?

Liss: It's not that way for everyone. I find it easy to write, once I decide to do it, but I certainly don't have stories bursting out of my head, nor characters whispering in my ear. For me, it's like opening a door. One moment it's business as usual, and the next the ideas start flowing. But for me they stay calmly behind the door until I open it.

The closest I come to a "thought exercise" as a way to jumpstart my writing is to start simply. First the basic concept: Some people are aboard a space ship and something bad happens. Then the germ of an idea: The spaceship is riddled by micrometeoroids and they lose most of their air and water, and their engine. Then the premise: They need to survive the initial crisis, repair the ship, then find a way to get more air and water. Then expand the story: What happens after they do all that? Do they go home? Do they continue exploring the star system where all this happened? Do they go somewhere else? What happens when they do? Do they meet aliens, pirates, another human ship? Do they find the ruins of a lost civilization? Then what happens? And so on. One idea building on another.

I used this technique when I started my book, and I had the first draft (81K words) completed in 69 days. (Of course, I'm still editing the book three months later, continually finding new ways to improve it, and it has grown to 87K words, but the basic story was done in less than 10 weeks.)

Obviously every writer has their own ways to stimulate the creative juices and no one method is right for everyone. But this one works for me. While I was waiting for feedback from the half-dozen reviewers who volunteered to critique the book, I wrote four short stories in a week and started a fifth, before returning to the book. And yet no characters burst forth from my head during all that time. They all patiently bided their time until it was their turn. Everyone's different.

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