Other than having a solid goal, motivation and conflict in mind for the major characters, I don’t do extensive plotting before I begin a story. But I do I take a page from Amy and ponder a lot about characters and plot.
Starting a new story is a challange I absolutely love. It’s like having a mountain of Christmas packages under the tree and you have to wait an hour or more between unwrapping each one. Some you may anticipate, but those surprises fire the imagination.
For me, the story process starts with characters. Usually the protagonist steps onstage in my head, balancing a chip on the shoulder. Sometimes the situation is also clear or strongly hinted at.
This time the protagonist began spewing invectives about her life-altering crisis immediately. Of course I knew do-diddly about the aspects of said crisis, so on comes the crash course (or courses in this case because the hero’s background had way too many gray areas) so I don’t make an embarrassing (re: stupid) mistake.
I truly can’t begin a story unless I a) know the ins and outs of what my characters do for a living, and b) read up on my chosen location.
This past week I delved into research, and though I have a handle now on my characters’ problems and backstories, I’m by no means an expert. Even if I knew everything about these issues, there are always things that crop up in a story that I hadn’t anticipated, or didn’t take the time to fully explore before I started pounding the keyboard. Yes, I tend to be a tad impatient.
At any rate, I know enough now to begin the actual writing–another fun process. Because honestly, even with all the pondering and research, I don’t see my characters until they open their mouths and/or let me inside their heads.
So I’m off to start chapter one of the yet untitled and not completely peopled new story. Honestly, I’m buzzing with excitement.