I thought I should fill you in on my journey so far. It has been literal years in the making. Many years ago I realized I wanted to write something... But what? Ah, then followed a book with a strong female protagonist, It was love at first sight, or what ever. I was intimately attracted to the women I was reading about. So my phantom character began to take form inside that big squishy mess of a brain I carry in my head. I then began analyzing the kinds of books I read. Most were Horror, Thrillers, Crime novels. Of course Harry Potter and Twilight were thrown in the mix. Add a few Sookie Stackhouse books and I was ready.
All this was research, not that I knew it at the time. It helped me to pin point the ideas I enjoyed and the ones I didn't. It helped me to see how to write something I could believe and how to write things I couldn't. All up it helped me form my own style of writing by giving me a guideline of the 'Do's and Don'ts' according to my own ideas.
This prepared me for thinking out the details. Nursing that female character in my head for years. Placing her in all kinds of circumstances, trying to gauge her reaction to get a feel of how she would cope. So, to you Phantom Character, I apologize for all the crap I have dumped you in over the last few years. Honestly, all I was trying to do was get to know you.
Recently I began to clarify my idea. Still just thoughts whirling in my head. Not a single word on paper after carrying around this character for 10 years. So, I thought now is a good a time as any. Why not actually put SOMETHING on paper...
Open Excel... *tap, tap,tap*... Several hours later I had a mess of notes, ideas, characters, plot lines, and details all crammed into the tiny boxes of a spread sheet (I also had a sore neck and was starving). Then one by one I began arranging them. Some I put aside, deciding they couldn't possibly fit into this story. Some I deleted right off... Who said 'Aliens'? I don't remember putting that in there. After another few hours I had the very rough outline of a story, a few characters, a major plot line and a few sub plots. Places were yet to come.
I walked away from it for a week after that. Perhaps it was overload? Or I like to think I was giving my self time to fully forget all the other ideas I'd had. So that when I came back to it I could read it all without Aliens popping into my head (seriously, who keeps saying Aliens?). Anyway, I came back to my notes all fresh and energetic. Created more spreadsheets with full character bio's and scene descriptions. An all out calender with blocked in sections color coded with the events in the story. None of it was really complete at this stage. It is a living document that I open every day before writing a word. I check it, I edit it, I add bits here and there. It gives me a guide for what I'm doing today and what I did yesterday (yes, I do forget!).
So, with so much work done so far, I thought I'd give my self a bit more... I wrote a list of points and things that require researching. Now, I know myself. I love research! In fact I spent most of today doing it. But never actually found out anything I needed for my book. Not wanting that to hold up the first draft I decided to plow head first into writing. Write first, Research later.
So I wrote. I checked my notes, then wrote some more. Within 4 days I had over 5,000 words. Totally raw, un-formatted, un-researched words, and way too many commas. It was perfect. Just how I wanted it. I wanted to give myself time to get my creative side going. To get my story out there on paper. Not because I'm in a rush to get to the end, this isn't a sprint. I just really didn't want to give my analytic editor side a chance to stick her stupid hand up every five seconds.
Don't panic. She will get her time to shine. In a few months it will be all on her, but for now I just want to get it out.
So, today marks the end of week 1 of writing of the first draft! I am at 5,133 words according to the handy Word Count function in MS Word. Great! Only... something thousand, many hundred and whatever words to go!
But I will get there, I promise you. I am in this for the long haul. Even if nothing comes of it. I will be able to say 'I tried'. And I don't know about you, but I'm one for trying everything once... sometimes twice even!