Prewrite descussion: How do you prepare your work

Just thought this would be an interesting thread topic

How do you plan out your work: Character design, inspiration, Plot planning?

Personally I start with a composition book and just begin writing out the basic concepts of the story in a bullet point form, then I let the Ideas flow from there by making different sections devoted to things like world design, planing ideas, tone,Main and support character, and symbolism/references. I keep it on me at all times so i can jot down anything that comes to mind during the day.

During that whole process I basically ransack my bookshelves and house for any book that has anything even remotely relevant to what I'm doing and throw them all in a big pile on part of my desk(dvds are also fair game). Then whenever some free time I begin to organize and reread/skim through them flagging anything relevant as a go. I also keep an "Inspiration Log" to keep track of any fragments i come up with while going through them all.

One thing that i found interesting is that unlike a lot of web writers I don't like to use actors for the appearance of my characters. As geeky as it may be the main source of my characters appearance comes from Anime and Manga. I basically hodgepodge different characters appearances and mannerisms together to get a base template for how my characters look. I much preffer that because if I start associating a character with an existing person the character leans a little more towards being like that person. When it comes time for me to start publishing my story i'll either get a friend of mine to create the Character sketches or hire a web comic illustrator to do a one shot for me.

Anyone else want to share their pre-writting process?

Wow, I do the EXACT same thing. Thats kind of amusing to hear of someone else doing it this way as well. :D * high fives you! TWICE!*

As geeky as it may be the main source of my characters appearance comes from Anime and Manga. (I don't know how to do the tags here, so just pretend italicized.) I don't use actors either, but I do think of voice actors on occasions. I do have several drawings on my deviantart and little chibi pictures on my website with the most accurate portrayals that I could find, but they aren't perfect. I wish I had the drawing skills to draw my own and/or had enough money to commission someone.

As for plot planning, I do the same thing as you do, but I always manage to lose my notebooks, so I try to keep it in my head. If I can't remember it, it probably wasn't worth writing anyway. It's usually in a class that I have an idea. Sometimes the professor will say something and I think "Wow, that would be a cool thing to put into my story." I do this with movies and tv too, which is probably why my story is running in all different directions right now. Sometimes if something is bothering me in RL, I'll incorporate it into the story, but I usually don't do it to often. All I need to do is find the one thing to tie all the storylines together, it would be alot easier.

As for characters, I started this story when I was 14, so needless to say most of the characters were based off myself and my friends. But as I've gotten older and more experience, I try not base the characters completely off my friends. (though we all still seem to associate ourselves with them. =/ ). I typically take my friend's different quirks and apply them to the situation of the story. It's probably not the right way to do things....

As for symbolism and tone, I really just write and then see if a common theme occurs in the story. The tone usually depends on what kind of chapter I'm writing, but I don't go off and say "I'm going to write a funny chapter today." If it happens to be entertaining, then it just is.

I've actually used a rough sketch for a story of mine only once, And I've lost it before I got to end the story. I tend to keep my stories in my head and evolve them there. Since I haven't actually written a web-serial but only web-novels/short stories, it is much more easier. I create a rough plot in my head and then start figuring out the little details for each step of the plot. I guess that when I'll start a bigger project I might have to note some things down.

As for characters, I have a bunch of them ready and waiting, again in my head. I don't base their descriptions off actors or manga though. I base their outside descriptions on their inside. That is if I want a broody, violent, sword-swinging thug, I try to imagine in my head, and in my setting, how such a person would look like. I kinda dislike to give 'perfect' descriptions. I just outline some characteristics and quirks to flesh him out, and then let the reader do the work. That is just a personal preference because when I read a novel, I tend to imagine the characters and settings in my head, looking later at a detailed sketch that had nothing to do with the hero that I've imagined is a big turnoff for me...

That said, I do have a txt that I note down all the references that I want to make 'sometime'. That is great moments of novels/films/etc that I just have to pinpoint to at some time. When I actually start writing a story, I browse through it and scan it quickly to see if such a reference wold go well with my setting/plot/characters, and if the answer is yes, I try to find a spot for it to put it in.

i have a box at the end of my bed. it is filled with A5 spiral-bound notebooks and scraps of paper (usually A4 and with a newsletter of some sort printed on the back). when i get a scene or piece of history in my head (sometimes from another book / tv, sometimes from daydreaming) i write it down on the nearest piece of something resembling paper. my eyes still sparkling from the energy spent, i then add it to the box. i potentially have about 8 different stories waiting to be told...

so, i sorted through all the scraps, tore pages out of notebooks and now carry all i consider to be Riders' stuff around with me in a big green bag. in the past few years, i've drawn up a number of plots in bullet form and maps for Riders of Darith and it's incredible the way they've changed over the years. all went in the bag. i also had numerous character outlines. the ones i couldn't fit into the latest story, went back to the box (note to self: re-write the character outlines you have left!).

i then bought a new notebook and jotted down the latest plot piecing the scenes, highlights and conclusion together and added it to the bag. the points started to ramble a bit by book three, so i left it there for now. now that the plot, characters and maps have been consolidated, i have either thrown away or returned to the box anything not relevant...

the notebook is now starting to gather random words and shopping lists that i hope to clear out again soon. not the most systematic way to approach writing a novel, i know. but perhaps there is something like an approach to sculpture - either reductive or additive. i don't proclaim to be an expert on either sculpture or writing, i just know what i like to look at in the end.

this is the first time i've made a serious attempt at putting my stories into cohesive chapters and know i'm going at it arse-about-face, but i'm thoroughly enjoying it so far - and i know i will probably go about writing my next story completely differently!

Planning? What's tha---I mean, *ahem*, I plan. Riiiiggghhhttt -- all good authors plan. *Whistles and tosses reference books around my desk, to look like I plan sooner than in the middle of an episode.*

Well, I'll admit that I don't do a whole heck of a lot of world-building before I start a project. What I do spend time on is gathering images that strike me for the characters (be they actors, stock photos, commissioned art, or graphics I forced my wife -- an illustrator -- to drum up for me). From there I mix-and-match options in my head, and start creating characters. That usually ends by me filling out an elaborate character-chart and writing a character sketch.

Any other notes tend to be created as I work, in little sub-documents on my computer (maps, world notes, magical limitations, government structures, etc). I write using Celtx, and inside each episode's "project file" I keep profiles, images, and sketches for new characters; deleted scenes that I add to as I work; plotting for that installment and the season's arc as a whole; music files that are referenced in the work; and anything else I find inspiratonal.

I have two seperate folders in my internet favorites for saving research websites, and I have a few binders around the house that have printed-off documents, important quotes, etc. Sometimes I even make wallpapers (I currently have one up for Sandra from B&B) that I use for inspiration (I'm thinking of putting up the B&B ones for grabs on the site, but I'm not sure if there's enough interest). Of course, there are also the regular trips to the library, nagging friends for insights, and walking aimlessly with my head tilted while I try to get the thoughts to form something coherant -- I even keep a treadmill next to my desk to help fufill that last need of mine.

For me, research and inspiration are so intimately intertwined that it can be hard for me to seperate them out. I consider going to the local bookstores and reading through comics, similiar novels, and magazines to be 'research,' while some might consider it trolling for inspiration. You say tomatoes, I say -- well, that phrase doesn't work as well in prose, but you get the idea.

As for over-all plotting, I usually end-up writing it up in whichever episode that I'm working on's project files. But that's the end result of haphazard notes that are strewn everywhere. In fact, my wife was just teasing me about my 'planning' methods -- I tend to get my best ideas at night, so I keep a marker by my bedside so I can write the ideas on my arms before going to bed (harder to lose than paper). The only downside is that I have limited space. ^^;; I also keep notepads, journals, and bulletin boards by my desk -- and a notebook and pen on me at all times.

My notes are scattered, but it's not so much having the info on paper so much as the act of writing it down that imprints the concepts in my memories, so that's okay.

i need a treadmill.

and a desk.

Pre-writing, as far as story plotting goes--blank sheet of paper and the germ of an idea. Situation and problem. Conflict. Why? Why? Why?

From there, skeleton of the story. Set up. Obstacles. Keep throwing them into the crapper and piling on the sh*t and misery. Darkest dankest moment. Turn tables and conclusion. Nice wrap up.

Add details where needed.

As for creating the world and the characters--harvest from real life, movies, comic books, TV shows, RPGs, other fiction. Borrow. Adapt. Steal and cover up with sparkly bits.

... and a box of sparkly bits.

I have a Big Arc and a Little Arc. The Little Arc covers the "book" I'm working on. The Big Arc covers the entire serial. I always know where I'm going when I start an arc, but I don't know how I'm going to get there. And usually I don't know until I sit down and start writing. When something does come to me, I write it down in a "future notes" file on my computer. I also have a moleskine I carry with me for the times I'm away from the computer (rare) and an idea comes to me.

In order to prepare for a story, I wake up and find an empty bottle in my hand. I peer at it, wondering how this happened, because I don't drink. It is then I realize that the bottle is still sealed closed- it's empty because there was never anything inside it in the first place.

As I puzzle over this, my butler approaches. "Good morning, sir." he says. "Also, I do hate to correct sir's thoughts, but I am technically a valet."

"Wait a minute." I say. "I don't have a but- a valet. How could I possibly afford one?"

"I was created for narrative convenience, sir." says my valet. He pulls out a sheaf of papers. "I have various missives from the rest of your imagination, sir."

"Very well." I sigh and put the bottle aside. "What do the ornery bastards want?"

"Ahem." He clears his throat as he pulls out a letter. "A Mr. C.C. politely inquires as to when you're going to write him."

"As soon as I figure out what the hell he is." I reply.

"Never, then. Understood. Also, the brothers wish to know when you're going to give them personalities."

"They've got personalities!" I yell, throwing up my hands. "I'm just taking a subtle approach and letting them show through at a slow pace."

"Indeed, sir?" he says with a raised eyebrow.

"Ha ha! No. They don't deserve personalities."

"I'll tell them the former explanation, if you don't mind sir." he says, gingerly pulling out another paper. "Next- oh dear."

I look at him with my face set in a premature wince, as I expect to hear something unpleasant. "What, 'oh dear?'"

"Well, sir, it would appear that your imaginary friends from childhood through early adolescence have formed a picket line in your lower cerebellum, sir. They refuse to let any other ideas through until you stop favoring newer characters."

"Good." I say, rubbing at the bridge of my nose. "Maybe I'll get some sleep then."

"Indeed, sir. Finally, there are a couple applications for the villain opening you have in your next chapter."

Ah, now we're down to business. I perk up a bit. "Oh? How're their references?"

"Quite in order, sir. One hails from your irrational personal distaste for the X-men series of comic books. The other is from parts unknown."

"I get a lot of that last one." I can't keep some of the bitterness out of my voice, but he politely ignores it.

"I had gathered as much, sir. Will that be all, sir?"

"Yes, that'll be all, Jee- uh, your name isn't-"

"No sir."

I breathe a sigh of relief.

"It's Fry, sir."

My face goes blank. "That's a joke, is it?"

"I couldn't say, sir. If it is, regrettably, it is one of yours."

I put my face in my hands. "I hate myself so much."

"A common enough affliction among men of your profession, sir. May I de-exist now, sir?"

"Yes, you may go." I wave a languid hand at him.

"Thank you, sir." he says, and then does, leaving the papers on my desk.


It sounds to me that this butler (sorry valet :P) needs a good spanking by the duo that helps you in your plotting ^^

I feel your pain though, for if my character ever appeared I think that they would kick my sorry ass in a post-apocalyptic spaceship run by black-clad dragons that think that everything in life is in vain...

p.s. as always your posts have made me laugh my guts out... I surely need to find time to check your stories...

"Fry" was a very nice touch. :-)

All my pre-writing happens in my head, almost. I've got these boxes, right, and when I open them, there're these ideas. Except that I don't have to open the boxes. They open themselves sometimes. Actually, all the time. Boxes opening. Ideas gushing out. And I rarely have the time to harness them.

But sometimes I'll have the lasso called time handy and I'll rope something in.

After that point, I just start writing. And most of the time I'll pause to plot some things out, but I pretty much never jot stuff out ahead of commencing work. Maybe this is why my work is so ... janky? But it's the only way I can work. If I don't just start writing, I'm wasting my lasso.

Warlocktupus all i can say is wow, nicely played

Damnit, warlock, now I need to go rewatch J&W. >_>

Oh right. A real reply.

I write everything from the seat of my pants.

MF, I had a good idea where I was going, since the main story is old and familiar, I just had fun playing with the details and the new trappings. So, all the little details were pulled completely from some nether region. I write a chapter, mostly with an idea of where it needs to go - what plot point it needs to establish, or character detail it needs to divulge. But as to planning...nope, nada.

If anyone follows my work, and knows the whole Enid/Tian / Eda/Tate thing, here's the thing: when I introduced Tian, he was just a goblin, those two didn't become anything more until I decided I didn't want to send Stef to Madchester, and wanted to do a story that established the story thieves.

I have some ideas for big plot developments, but they're not plans because I have no idea how I'm getting there. >_>

i want a butler. and a valet.

<-- dashes off to spy on the villain applicants

I do almost all my prep work on my laptop. It's funny, I have two different processes for my two serials. For Superstition, I have a list of superstitions and my character ideas. I have had a sense of how I want it to end, and then I sort of write my way there. Sometimes, it's a surprise how we go.

For AEOL, I spent about a month doing world creation, surfing various sites that have world-creation themes/questions. I have about a 50 page doc with all the details of the world. I then sat down and wrote out a two page outline for book 1. It's got all the major plot points to get me through the arc. But the details are created as I write.

I also have a list of important characters and their major traits. I've done my best to make them all gray, rather than black and white. But that's it.

I also have a variety of files with story ideas, settings without stories and various other things that occur to me. Right now, I have a short story that's pretty decently outlined I planned to write at some point. And a really cool setting in search of a plot. Both of those are high on my list of priorities, assuming I keep up the diligence to finish the projects I'm working on currently, of course. :-P