I’ll develop this over time (sometimes a long time, sometimes in a couple of hours) by collecting clues for my plot. These can range from character formations to backdrop scenarios. Eventually I will have notebook full of – well, notes – that will form the basis of the story. These notes range from single words to scenarios and short stories about the story.
By the time I start to write I know the approximate journey. It’s like looking on Google maps to plan where you are going, you can even see the location. However, going there is a whole different journey, and what happens along the way will seriously affect what gets onto the page and the arrival. After finishing previous novels I’ve looked at the gestation notes and they rarely bear a close resemblance to the story I have ended up with.
I consider the gestation period as my most creative time, where ideas are unformed and malleable. This is a time before I consider the audience for my writing or even the urpose of it. The story is unbound and living large in my inner voice, where it is unchallenged and uncensored. As it emerges onto the page, the story morphs into a container of rules and regulations, a language that allows someone else to understand it.
Words I would use to describe this stage of the process is exciting and uplifting, optimistic and free, because whatever happens in this novel is entirely loosely formed at the stage, just a glint in the mind’s eye. I can wake up in the middle of the night with an idea for the story, or it may come to me in the middle of the day as I work at my desk. I carry a notebook and post it notes everywhere, and if I find myself without these, I’ve been known to phone my own answerphone and tell myself the idea!
I write in first person present and I have to get to know the main character really well before I start to write. I might try to imagine what books they would read, what they watch on TV, how they would dress, the rooms in their house; it always helps to know the mundane things in their day to day life before I try to describe how an extraordinary event affects their existence.
I’m looking forward to writing 50000 words in one month with focus and routine, but first I’m reclining in the garden of my mind with my ideas for a while.