How I come up with ideas. How I plot.
As a writer, I'm always curious about how other writers do it. What's their process? How do they come up with ideas? How do they plot and what routines do they have that help them get their words down?
"There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed." -Ernest Hemingway
Maybe Hemingway had it right. I don't know. But simply sitting down at a computer (since I don't own a typewriter anymore) and bleeding words doesn't always work for me. There are times when I can bleed words if I'm feeling extra inspired or something.
But when I'm putting together a story, it's a process.
So, in case you're a writer and you're curious about how I do it, here's mine.
How I Come Up With Ideas
I don't have any rhyme or reason or any particular process for coming up with new ideas for novels. Sometimes they just pop in my head. I love those times.
Other times I get inspiration from what's around me. What I see and what I hear. As writers, I think we often get ideas from things we see. I like to watch people, see how they interact with each other. I get ideas from places I go. If I'm driving through the countryside, my mind might be picturing a story about a ranch. If I'm driving through the city, I might get ideas about a girl from the country coming to the city for the first time.
I also get ideas from the things I hear. Often, these ideas come from songs. A certain line in a song will strike me and then I start forming ideas into a story. In fact, one of my future potential stories came from a very famous song that I listened to one day.
I also get stories from listening to people. Come on... eavesdropping is a thing, y'all! Really though, I don't necessarily do it on purpose, but if I overhear something interesting, well.... you get the drift.
Another way I come up with story ideas is to imagine two very different characters and what it would be like to thrust them together. Because you know what they say... opposites attract!
How I plot
I've always thought I was a plotter. And I am. I use mostly the Beat Sheet method from Save the Cat! Writes a Novel. I'm a very logical thinker so this process of plotting works well for me. I even created the different beats in Scrivener as well as an Excel file and what I call a plot board. The plot board is basically a version of the image above broken down into all the scenes.
After I've written my ideas down in the Excel version, I write it out on my plot board to better see how the scenes flow. I always do this in pencil because inevitably, something will change! Once I'm satisfied there, I fill my Scrivener template with each beat's scenario. Then, I'm good to go.
But sometimes it's so freeing to just let it flow. There are times when the story seems to take on a life of its own. If you're a writer, I'm sure you can relate to that! There is something about not following a planned-out path that just gets the creative juices flowing.
So, if I'm going to put a label on it, I might have to say that I'm a hybrid. I do plot out my long novels but I also tend to go off on a tangent now and then. When that happens, I just let it lead me where it will. It could wind up being crap. But it could also end up as a whole new, glorious scene that I hadn't counted on. Yay!
How do you do it? What's your process? I'd love to hear it!