Burning paper money, from Ching Bing
The most intoxicating part of a writing project for me is usually the ideas process. This is also the part that tells me whether or not the book is ever going to be sold, because it shows how attached I am to the words I intend to put out.
I’ve had ideas sit in my head for years. Ideas that come and go within a few days or weeks. The difference between them is how intense these ideas are.
Story ideas that come as a single scene, with a single focus, usually linger in my mind. A bit of psychoanalysis (I am not sure if that is the right word) will usually signify it’s a wish-fulfilment sort of idea. These are the kinds of ideas I generally don’t write out, because it doesn’t really work and it’s a very specific idea for me to deal with specific situations. Aka my daydreams. Some are repeat visitors, with simply a changing cast.
Story ideas that come as characters usually come from chatting with friends or when I’m reading something with a concept that intrigues me. These are the kind of stories where the character herself will suggest her appearance, her powers, and most importantly, the culture where she comes from. That usually is the basis of her name and therefore the rest of the story.
Suara, my 2012 Nanowrimo project, was one of the few characters I actually created from scratch. I forced her into being by thinking deliberately about who she is, where she came from, how she deals with things etc. This is the complete opposite of how characters usually suggest themselves to me (aka hotel guests who suddenly come out of nowhere and ring the desk bell incessantly).
Story ideas that come with concepts are the ones that haunt me the most. These are the story ideas that come to life as a single sentence, and then I have to start finding characters to fit the story. These are usually probability stories, and they can take me on a fantastic whirl. Like the single-scene, single-focus story, they will linger in my mind, but they will usually add on to the initial detail I had in mind.
Concept ideas will usually suggest a continuum. They’ll suggest the origin of the world, what the rules are, and some of the recent history in that world. Usually more than enough to get me started writing. The problem with that it leads to very creative and awesome world-building.
An actual story with a plot from one place to another? Nope, not gonna happen.
I’ve been writing Suara’s story for almost 2 years now, and she still hasn’t given me the quests needed to tackle the middle. This is both frustrating and yet interesting. I think this could be, in part, due to the fact that I usually give up on a game midway through. Quests that appear here are much harder to find.
That and the fact that most MMOs don’t usually have an ending. Special event, big bosses types are usually things you see dropping out of the sky. Did I also mention that I’m pretty much a lone wolf kind of player? I like dropping into a MMO to see pretty character designs and story ideas, but I rarely take part in the guild building side of things.
But I disgress.
Single scene focus stories are the ones I don’t put to paper much, because obviously I’m too attached to the outcome.
Character driven stories are half-half; I love the idea and the concept, but it takes a certain kind of ruthlessness to put my characters out there in the wild; it’s one of the reasons why Naoko’s, Sukina’s, and Kishan’s story are still sitting in my drive, waiting to be edited. (Sukina’s note: that and the fact that she’s terrified to read incest stories of us xD). Suara’s was the first I intended to be sold; still stuck in the middle of the story. Haven’t finished writing it, much less editing it.
Concept stories are the one that give me the most headache. They’re awesome and epic, but they’re also hard to pinpoint. I’ve got one concept story spinning somewhere in my GDrive that’s got a lot of potential, but writing it is like pulling blood from my forehead. The masochistic part is that I actually LIKE the characters and the general plot in that story; it’s just the writing that’s giving me a headache.
As you can tell, like a lot of writers, I love to write about writing. Getting actual writing done? That’s the hard part.