Welcome to the second installment of the How I Write series, brainchild of Ansha Kotyk. A bunch of talented writers are writing about how we write – scheduled for Wednesdays through August. Please check back weekly. And click here for the list of all the writers participating and links to their blogs. (Oh, and there's still time to enter the CynthiaJenniferCynthia contest -- click here to win SIGNED copies of Eternal by Cynthia Leitich Smith, To Find A Wonder by Jennifer Carson, and Rules by Cynthia Lord.)
I have a complete YA novel of approximately 68K words. It is largely inspired by my own teenage years growing up on a golf course. It's always easiest for me to "write what I know." I am inspired by my family and friends—in other words, people I know really well and love dearly. It’s easy to write realistic fiction using characters you know. Character traits and habits, quirks, mannerisms – are all things that make a character real. And are all things that are easily observed in daily life.
For example, an important scene in my novel takes place during a rainstorm – the boy comes to the rescue of the female protagonist who is wearing a white T-shirt and drenched (and we all know what happens when you wear a white T-shirt in the rain, right?). This happened to me in “real” life (long, long ago) –and the chivalrous boy of my teenage dreams grabbed a spare shirt out of his bag and tossed it to me.
It’s ever so much more exciting if he actually removes his shirt, isn't it? In my story, because of the setting (a golf course) he can’t be shirtless. My husband has always had a quirky habit to wear an undershirt under a golf shirt or polo shirt. So it made sense for Scott to have this quirky habit as well – it allows him to take his shirt off without exposing himself.
Make sense? Use the personalities of people you know!
Once I know who my characters are, I list their likes and dislikes, details about their lives, habits and nuances. Sometime they surprise me.
As far as plot development, I sometimes struggle with that. I've been using a sort of modified snowflake method. I start by writing a short sentence of the plot, followed by a longer synopsis, and then (hopefully) weave it into some semblance of something interesting. ;)
How do you come up with your characters and plot?