The Muse and the Machine

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This has probably been done before, but I still want to talk about it.

For those of us who write fiction, I would like to hear about your process. How do you take the ideas you have and put them down into words? How do you, personally, go about balancing things like plot and character development, description and dialog? Do you do a lot of pre-writing, using things like outlines or bullet points, or do you just sit down and start writing? Do you type right away, or do you write it out physically? Do you play some music in the background, or do you prefer silence? Do you write mostly from start to finish, or do you jump around and piece it together later? How much rewriting/revision do you do?

I've always been interested in people's often vastly different approaches to the process of writing, and I would very much like to hear about the preferences of the people here! 

Shameless Self-Promotion

These are the MTG Fiction pieces I have written:

Planes of the Dual-Walkers
Allo's Fortnight
The Butcher's Cleaver
Dead Man 'Walking
Showdown
Pariah
Deals and Devils
The Tears of the Djinn
Cromat Comes
Kiss of the Shorecerers
Numerous poems in The Poetry Plane
Magic: The Musical

Please read and comment! I love hearing people's thoughts and reactions to my work!

I mostly (not always) go straight to typing, from start to finish. If I suddenly get new and/or better ideas while writing, I'll go back and change/add stuff. Once a piece is finished, I'm rubbish at editing (for instance, I started editing my Pit Fighter stories three months ago, and have only sat down with it twice, and not been very productive at those times either). Basically, I love coming up with ideas, and putting them down. Once they are out there, I tend to lose interest.
My stories have always two origins:

- Deep seated themes I want to explore.

- Basic emotional impulses.

Afterwards, it's expanding upon them. I'm very much a perfectionist, so unless my emotional "lulz motivations" are strong, they will end up examined so many times that they may never actually be published.
IMAGE(http://www.wizards.com/global/images/mtgcom_daily_mc52_picMain_en.jpg)IMAGE(http://images.community.wizards.com/community.wizards.com/user/blitzschnell/73821e61e013eadf56a8e4e2226d89a3.jpg?v=90000)
For me, it usually starts with an inspiration, though exactly what sort of inspiration can vary wildly. With Planes of the Dual-Walkers, I admit, it was the name. With Showdown, it was the reference. With Pariah, it was a sudden flash of the opening scene. Whatever the inspiration is, I then take that and try to turn it into a cohesive story. Most of the details wind up getting fleshed out while I write (although logical flaws in the plot I often figure out how to resolve while thinking about the story while not writing it.)

I tend to write almost solely start to finish, meaning I start where I begin the story and work downward. Rarely do I ever write any sizable section and then jump back up. Occasionally, I do write a sentence or two for something I want to get to later and then continue from where I was, and every once in a while I do have to go back and insert a sentence or two if I come up with a nice theme I want to stretch through the narrative, but usually I'm pretty linear.

I'm also very cinematic in my style. I like to visualize what I envision, and then describe it as best I can. Interestingly, though, I often do not go very far into describing my main characters. This is, admittedly, a flaw of mine, but I sort of like to leave my main characters' physical look at least somewhat up to the reader. I give basics, or details that are relevant to the story, but I typically don't spend much time on it.

My poetry process is harder to describe, though, probably because I spend a lot less time on it. Most prose I've posted here, with the more ambitious exceptions of Planes and Magic: The Musical, took about two days (of work. I do most of my writing at work, where there is, ironically, fewer distractions.) My poems I almost invariably finish in a single night, usually about two or three hours total. That's rarely two or three straight hours, if ever, as I am forced to constantly stop to answer phones or talk to people. But, I still look for that initial inspiration. Then it's just a matter of deciding what form to put it in, what sort of rhyme scheme fits best (to me) and then deciding on the imagery, but that usually goes pretty quickly. As a consequence, I don't really know what I concentrate on, I just go.

That's me, anyway.     

Shameless Self-Promotion

These are the MTG Fiction pieces I have written:

Planes of the Dual-Walkers
Allo's Fortnight
The Butcher's Cleaver
Dead Man 'Walking
Showdown
Pariah
Deals and Devils
The Tears of the Djinn
Cromat Comes
Kiss of the Shorecerers
Numerous poems in The Poetry Plane
Magic: The Musical

Please read and comment! I love hearing people's thoughts and reactions to my work!

I'll need to remind myself to come through and offer some insight when I haven't just worked an 11 hour shift.

Oh, yeah. I meant to reply here myself. Think of this post as a reminder for me and Barinellos, then. I'll be back....





sometime.....

Profile Picture taken with implied permission from Trildar.

KeeperofManyNames wrote:

Alright, new theory: these forums are an experiment in ultraminimalism. By Monday everything--yes everything--will be the color white, and typing any character will simply produce a solid rectangle of variable height and width.

As a writer... I must say I am not that organized. When writting events in my stories tend to look to how to convey how Event A led to Event B. And do revise often...

Sometimes even going back to the beginning and writting it again.
Got a non-magic related story I am working on that I have restarted seven or eight times now and still don't like how it's going.
Tellers of stories with ink on paper, not that they matter any more, have been either swoopers or bashers. Swoopers write a story quickly, higgledy-piggledy, crinkum-crankum, any which way. Then they go over it again painstakingly, fixing everything that is just plain awful or doesn't work. Bashers go one sentence at a time, getting it exactly right before they go on to the next one. When they're done they're done.


-Vonnegut

I am 100% a basher.  I can fix and revise, but by in large I do it as I write.  I might create one paragraph or two in a frenzy and then go back and comb it over two or three times before going onto the next paragraph, and often my writing at the bottom of the page stops to alter a line or two that are still on screen above.

"Enjoy your screams, Sarpadia - they will soon be muffled beneath snow and ice."
On Worldbuilding - On Crafting Aliens - Pillars of Art and Flavor - Simulationism, Narritivism, and Gamism - Shub-Niggurath in D&D
THE COALITION WAR GAME -Phyrexian Chief Praetor
Round 1: (4-1-2, 1 kill)
Round 2: (16-8-2, 4 kills)
Round 3: (18-9-2, 1 kill)
Round 4: (22-10-0, 2 kills)
Round 5: (56-16-3, 9 kills)
Round 6: (8-7-1)

Last Edited by Ralph on blank, 1920

Before I nodd off to sleep, I'll answer this in part. Maybe I'll come back to finish up in the next few days.

I've said before, I tend to write only when the muse hits me, so I manage maybe a page or so before I have to turn my attention elsewhere, or, on the occasions that it lasts for more than a few days, before I start losing track of my original plot and start scrapping it all. As I quoted Keeper in my sig, I periodically set fire to my stuff. I just throw entire drafts out before they're even finished. I'm a perfectionist, so I can't bring myself to move on until the beginning is done, and so on. Actually, I've tried using an outline and all, and I've tried maybe other methods of writing my story, but regardless time is usually the big factor. I just tend to lose focus after a while and it is often months before I pick it back up again.

Profile Picture taken with implied permission from Trildar.

KeeperofManyNames wrote:

Alright, new theory: these forums are an experiment in ultraminimalism. By Monday everything--yes everything--will be the color white, and typing any character will simply produce a solid rectangle of variable height and width.

I live with 3 kids, so "process" is quite a strong word for what I do. I'm working scattershot on 5 novels right now and experamenting with different habits to find one that's reasonably productive. Writing 3 pages a night in the Dunkin Doughnuts parking lot is one of the most satisfying feelings I've ever found.
As to where they come from... I dunno, mostly. Sometimes I listen to a song and "find" the story inside. Usually it's just enough for a few days worth of daydreams, but sometimes it sticks. There are about 100 fragmentary stories stored in my mind at any given time, mutating and feeding on one another like a bunch of Gelatinous Cubes. Rarely, one grows dense and coherant enough to reach paper, like a tiger shark that's eaten its siblings. Don't constrain me to one metaphore.