Friday, June 8, 2012

My 12 Step Program

No, I'm not a lush! LOL. Okay ... well, sometimes I can be one, but not nearly often enough to need a 12 step program for that. This is my 12 step program for fiction writing, actually. This is what I've found works for me as writer, most of the time. (Forgive me the typos and flow problems when I skimp on the work part, sometimes I'm just too damn lazy)

Anyway, I thought I'd share my 12 Steps to Writing Fiction here. When I first got the idea to write a story, I was completely intimidated. I'd wondered for years if I had the creativity to create a story at all, much less brand new worlds and people to inhabit it. It turns out, I'm not half bad at it. Sometimes, though, a story doesn't flow, or I get stuck in a morass of muse killing muck for whatever reason, which is when I turn to my 12 steps to get back on track.

Maybe it will help someone else, so here you go!

  1. Get an idea. This sounds hard right? But it is easier than you might think. Just keep a pen and notepad handy because you never know when an idea might strike!
  2. Let the idea build. Start imagining who your characters might be. Look at online model pics maybe or write out character bios-maybe do an interview with them. You can keep a list of questions for your characters to use each time if it helps you. If you aren't sure about your setting, try looking at landscape photos from around the world. Try drawing your 'world/city' maybe.
  3. Research! Let the idea grow as you gather details you might need. Go to the library, employ Bing or Google ... make sure you get your facts straight!
  4. If you like outlining, now is the time to do that. There are a lot of online programs you can use to do bubble charts, or timelines, or just do a few paragraphs for each chapter on what is going to happen.
  5. Start writing!! Woohoo, the work... I mean, the fun now begins. Get that story out, silence those voices in your head, write write write!
  6. Stop working! Take a break. Leave that finished story alone, mistakes, bumps and all! Try to give it at least 3 days, a week if you can.
  7. Now is the time to go back and just read your story. At this point I read it aloud. It helps me find flow issues, sentences that don't work well, mistakes in the syntax. Mark up any questions you have about the character's actions or the plot holes, so that you can go back and fix them. If it is easier for you, print out the story and mark it with a red pen.
  8. Revise, revise, revise. Go through all the comments you made and refine your story.
  9. Copy-edit. Okay, this is the REAL work. Go through and find all the mistakes in punctuation, spelling, misued words ... For this I usually start at the end and work backwards one paragraph at a time. You can also do this in a printed version if it is easier.
  10. Send the story on to impartial readers! Or your friends, whatever works. Just someone with fresh eyes who will be able to see the characters outside of the vision in your head. Sometimes we know the story we want to tell so well that we don't realize the reader is missing parts of that story. Betas and/or editors are an invaluable resource!
  11. Submit your story wherever you plan to send it. Make sure it fits the guidelines of any site/publisher format wise, and then let it go. This is one of the most nervewracking parts of creating any piece of fiction, but you have to do it. Also, learn to take your critiques and compliments in equal good humor and apply that to future writing.
  12. Start ALL over again with something new. There are endless worlds, stories, and ideas to be had, if you just keep your eyes and mind open!

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