Preparing for a Writing Project

Sunday 12 January 2014 by

When embarking on a new project there are several things I do to prepare before I put any words on the page. A first draft is always going to be full of inconsistencies as you learn more about the characters and the world as you go, but I’m not a complete pantser, so I like to go into a project knowing a few things about my story. This doesn’t usually involve writing much down – I do a lot of research, discussion and thinking.

Initial Planning

Once I have the kernel of an idea, I usually start by mulling things over in my head. At this stage, I’ll think up a few characters, perhaps a few scenes – not things that necessarily make it into the book, just scenes that I think are cool or interesting.

Character Development

I usually have characters before I’ve fully formulated plot, or even situation. In this stage of the planning, I’ll work out names, histories, relationships and get a feel for where I want them to end up by the end of the book. For instance, in my current project, I know exactly where most of the major characters I’ve identified will be at the end (most of them dead, but it is a zombie book). Even now I’ve started writing, I’m still open to change and development. The book is multiple 3rd Person POV, so I’m even open to more major characters surfacing, but before I put the metaphorical pen to paper, I make sure I know a few key players well.

The Little Details

My third stage in preparation is working out all the practicalities of how the characters got into the situation they are in at the start of the book, the bits and bobs of world-building that are vital to the set up and beginning to research things that are important to the key characters or set pieces. For instance, I’ve watched an awful lot of videos about recurve bows on YouTube, debated what common bedroom objects could be used to brain a zombie and grilled my boyfriend about firefighter equipment.

Completing these tasks makes me feel immersed in the world of the story. When the world starts to feel real enough that I can slip into it easily each time I sit down at my desk, when the characters feel like friends rather than figments of my imagination, that’s when I know I’m ready to write.

What do you do to prepare for your projects?

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