Wednesday, July 7, 2010

How I Write: Starting a new WIP

Welcome to the fourth installment of the How I Write series, brainchild of Ansha Kotyk.  A group of 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.

Today's topic: Starting a new WIP

Now this is a timely topic.  I just happen to be starting a new WIP and I was wondering this exact thing.  The last time I started a novel, I had written a short story inspired by an experience I had as a teenager.  People who read the story wanted to know what happened next to my characters, and so I started writing more.  Much of it was inspired by people and places from my childhood.  It was completely organic and from my heart.  I didn't actually start it consciously.

So I have no idea what to do with this new one.  I've got a first chapter drafted that sort of came from a daydream.  And my friend Ansha insists that if I let things stew, more of the story will come from my subconscious. ::waves to Ansha::   So I'm stewing.  And researching a bit (see last week's post).  And listening to music.  And reading.  And talking to my characters.

Wait.  What?  Talking to my characters?

Yes. If you listen, they'll talk to you.

Sometimes, I pull out scrap paper in the car while I'm waiting to pick up my daughter, and just jot notes.  Random thoughts about the characters.  It's amazing what comes out sometimes.

I use a novel writing software which helps organize--I don't use all it's features, but it's helpful.  And of course when I get into a funk, do a little snowflaking method.  I know I'll use character spreadsheets, outlines, review my craft books, and any number of other tools before I'm done.

UPDATE since I wrote this entry: I've been assigned two new freelance projects.  I'll be writing about life in Colonial America specifically focusing on government for one and weapons/battles for the other.  This type of research (see last week's entry) begins with a google search, searches on and my local library's online resources.  I'll begin with an outline based on the publisher's guidelines and then write the manuscript based on research and the approved outline.  Two or more primary resources are required--I'll probably take my research on the road and hit the museums in Lexington, MA and Plymouth, MA.

New fiction WIP will get to stew a bit longer as I tackle these new projects.

How do you start a new WIP?


Anonymous said...

Hee hee - we started our post with the same line! And what a timely topic. Funny. We think alike (or are in the same spot) Have fun with the freelance!

Kris said...

Oh that's funny. ::goes to check Laura's blog::

Ansha said...

I can't wait to beta your colonial stuff! So beginning non-fiction is very different from fiction huh? Imagine that! :)

Anonymous said... there's something I can relate too. But I also think, while things are stewing, if you write about what you think your characters are supposed to be doing--they'll correct you = )

Off to the market! Will read more blog posts tonight!

Tatiana Caldwell said...

Yes, if you listen, your characters will definitely talk to you.

And yell. And complain.

Those two freelance projects sound intriguing! Good luck with them all, and happy writing!

Heather Kelly said...

Sweet about the freelance projects!! I hope you can add a stop in a cafe near me on your tour!! I'll email you.

I love finding out how people start, even though sometimes it a little vague. I do a lot of stewing myself.

Gail Roarke said...

I still have hopes of learning to plot out a story before I write, but so far it hasn't worked for me. Character charts are handy--but only after the fact, as a "bible" to keep straight the facts I decided on the fly.

Kris said...

Thanks for stopping by everyone!

Tina Laurel Lee said...

Kris, we are so in the same place! (Except that your first work is actually FINISHED!!!!) It will be fun to start this new work at the same time with similar experiences on our past work. I am counting on the stewing working too. Good advice, Ansha! And want to hear about your progress every step of the way!

Isabelle Flynn said...

I talk to my characters all the time. Sometimes I'm more of a voyeur and just listen in. It really is amazing how things just seem to materialize in our minds.

Congrats and good luck on the freelance projects!

Julie Musil said...

Kris, two freelance projects? That's amazing! Good luck with those.

I like this post, because my next wip has been stewing for weeks. I've written notes about ideas and characters, but I haven't actually begun writing yet.

I did the snowflake on my last project, and I think I'll start with that again.

Good luck with your fiction AND nonfiction!

Kris said...

Tina -- here's to progress! Let's make it together!

Thanks Isabelle!

Julie -- Thanks! I'm a bit excited. It means, I'll have five work-for-hire books out in 2011. I worked on two simultaneously this past spring, so I think I know how to balance. They are consecutive deadlines, so it shouldn't be too bad. Thanks for commenting!

Theresa Milstein said...

I love hearing about how writers go through the writing process.

For me, a line pops in my head and go. I'll stop and think about my characters a lot. They sort of speak to me too. I don't write much down other than on the WIP, which is funny for me because in all other aspects of life, I need to write to remember. I guess writing the story is enough. I'll even think of whole scenes that happens outside of the manuscript that cause characters to act they way they do.

Congratulations on your freelance projects. I should look into jobs like that since my M.A. is in history.

Kris said...

Thanks for stopping by Theresa! I'm still figuring out how to organize my thoughts--my new WIP is acting a differently than the first.

And of course, nonfiction has a whole different feel. :)