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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.


*sighs* I was worried about a post like this appearing as soon as I hit "submit" on mine. Yes, I know everyone is different and certainly I don't expect anyone to have the same deviation from "normal" that I do. I was not saying that the "only" way to write is my own scattered version. I was bizarrely curious and confused by the OP's interest in non-job-related writing. I read it 3 times before posting and I read it again before writing this reply.

Perhaps it is just me, but the whole post said to me, "hey, I'm a technical writer and I want to pad my resume .... I think I'll try travel writing and fiction. how do I do this?" I thought the first sentence of my post made my confusion clear, I didn't know if my understanding of his post is correct or not. I don't know how possible it is to be successful at something that has never really appealed to a person on its own (such as the examples I have listed as what happens to me). If the motivation to write fiction is to pad a resume, I'd have to recommend not doing it. Travel writing would seem to me to be the way to go. At least it's still technical, in some respects.

I have an entirely non-technical mind, I'm very, very right-brained and I simply don't get approaching fiction (my mental picture: wide, easily flowing river) from a technical standpoint (my mental picture: checklist set in concrete). I don't think it's wrong or bad, I just don't get it. I have played the "what if" game with characters to get a plot going (it's a great way to pass time in grocery store lines), but I don't catagorize my thoughts by concepts, germs or expansions - that's not how I see a story flowing.

I know and respect that you took a very methodical route to write your tale, I'm glad you had success at it. I don't write that way, but as you pointed out, it's what works for each person. The whole purpose of the first paragraph of my post was to understand the OP. And now that he's responded and addressed my confusion, I can offer more thoughts.

liss
takes Apple's "Think Different" motto to a whole 'nuther level ;o)
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