The first and quickest part of the writing process, for me, is getting the first draft done. Quite like writing non-fiction, I start anywhere. It might be an introduction to the character, a scene that may be incorporated, or a piece of dialog. From there, I figure out where that piece fits in and write scenes before and after it. Only then does an outline emerge.
I use scrivener for writing for the most part, however, if I’m stuck in a meeting I’ve been known to scribble in the back of a notebook or put some words down into one-note when an idea comes to me. On my phone I use one-note and am learning to use some audio recordings while I’m driving in the car.
Before the first draft there is usually an idea about the scene, some questions that reveal something about the main character and their cirsumstances.
- Mira has issue with her family that sets her at odds with them. What is that?
- About the magic? Her place in the family? The arranged marriage they’re trying to get her to agree to?
- What is it about her magic and power that is at odds with their pursuit of power?
- What does she see with her gifts that makes her step away from them?
I throw the main character into the first scene against the backdrop of the questions and see what happens. During this phase, I pay attention to the rhythm of the scene – quick, quick, slow or slow, slow, quick – depending on the energy of the events. As the stories are urban fantasy, I want to ground the action in everyday events. The mundane is punctuated by the magical actions and, ideally, the rhythm brings the aspects of the scene into balance.
I may decide to do a second pass on the draft to add action sequences or dialog that shows more of the motivations, especially for the political tensions.
During first draft phase, I also read it aloud to my partner or one of my beta readers. Getting their initial feedback helps me to refine the story on the next pass. It also lets me know which pieces to keep, especially if they clap their hands or laugh in delight. My partner is great at asking questions I hadn’t thought of, or asking about motivations.
Occasionally I’ll plot out a whole short story. For the most part, however, I allow the characters to tell me what they would do as I write. It’s more exciting to me that way and I get to learn as I go along. My first draft is usually in chunks of around 2000 words a day, with the odd day of 5000 words; I live for the 5000 word days. Being that much in the story makes me happy.