I'm often asked how I come up with ideas for my books. Some writers come up with the characters first, others have a definite plot in mind, and others have a scene that pops into their head. For me, Hit and Run began with a scene in mind, Foxfire began with characters, and Joshua's Hope evolved from a plot I wanted to write.
However, before I write, I create a fictional setting for the story. Without a setting, a story can fall flat. When a reader picks up your book, they expect to be transported away from their everyday life to another place...a place they can envision and live in for the duration of the book.
There are two types of writers: Plotters and pantsters. Plotters outline their stories from start to finish before writing, while a pantster allows the story to develop as we write. There is no right or wrong way. Me? I'm a pantster.
So, how do I begin the writing process? I start with a fictional town. I add environment. Trees, streets, every single thing I would see if I drove through this fictional town. I'm creating a world. My settings are always very small rural communities. I roughly sketch a picture of what the town looks like on a piece of paper (and believe me I'm not an artist.) Then I add businesses and name them. During this process, characters evolve. I begin to picture the owners, patrons, and their interactions. I write down names for these "secondary" characters and give them a background. By the time I'm finished, I know the main character types I need to make an interesting story. I write character sketches and give these characters names.
From there, the story evolves and...as a true pantster, I let thie story develop as I write.
No matter how you write--whether you outline chapter by chapter, or start with a rough sketch--you'll need to know your setting in intimate detail. This is the only way to truly "paint the pictures" with words to transport your readers.
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