Normally the creative process, for me, is luck; do I have an idea, aimless energy, time to write, and interest all at the same time. Then, if those conditions are met, did I happen (without thinking things through properly) to start the story in the right place, in the right way?
Amazing, I feel, that I have ever written anything.
A few weeks ago, I was meeting with Lisa and we were dissecting the craze for supernatural love encounters. Vampires, were-creatures, fae of assorted textures and flavors…I was feeling grumpy that the fullness of the genre wasn’t being explored. (Except, of course, for mizkit, who has been playing with gargoyles and such – and kudos to her for it.) “Why,” I snarled pettishly, if one can do such a thing in such a way, “aren’t people writing about sexual creatures from lagoons? Why no horny hags? Someone,” I gestured to the writing world at large with a bit of tofu that would have been better used plugging my flapping jaw, “someone needs to write a zombie love story.”
Lisa smiled broadly. “Great idea.”
“It would improve the paranormal genre.”
“It must be done.”
“It must. And you are a writer.”
“Yes, abso –” I stopped waving tofu. Evasive movement was called for. I summoned all of my cunning, all my wit. “Er,” I said.
“So when will you write your zombie love story?”
Never bitch about the state of the art while in one’s writer’s group. In spite of my attempts to derail the idea, I was committed by the end of lunch.
Now. The reasonable thing to do, by my past successes, was to wait for all conditions to be met and then revel in the happy coincidence. But there’s this synopsis thing I’ve been meaning to try, and a synopsis doesn’t require actual inspiration. It merely requires effort.
This is what I did:
- I fiddled with the idea for a while, and decided that I liked voodoo zombies, and that there should be a love triangle — maybe two. And that the protag should be not-a-normal voodoo priest. I still didn’t really know where this was going, but I had a sense that it needed to either tug the heartstrings or be Addams Family romantic. AF romance was easier, so….
- I wrote a one-sentence summary of the story.
- Then I wrote a one-paragraph summary, not requiring myself to stick to what I’d already done.
- Then I started figuring out what had to happen, to get from a beginning to the end I had in my head. Each happening got a line in sequence of the story.
- I started changing the happenings to scenes, still at one line each…
- …which began to evolve to several lines each…
- …until there was nearly two pages of synopsis of moderate detail.
No inspiration ever took me. I still had a nice time. It was fun to think about. Tonight I’ll start writing from the synopsis, which should be much easier than usual; pacing, character, and plot are all determined, a nice improvement on my usual method. If this works at all well, it will be much faster and much less stressful than my normal methodless method. I’ll letcha all know.