Monday, June 9, 2014

What Comes First?

No, this isn't one of those chicken or egg discussions because I can go on for far too long about that question. I started a new WIP yesterday and it got me thinking about what element of the story comes first when I get a new idea.

Sometimes it's the characters. The people in my story are extremely important to me and usually they come first. They're personalities and sometimes looks pop into my head. I can hear the voices. Sometimes I get a feel for their story right away and other times it remains a mystery for some time.

Most of the time, it's the premise. With Weredragon, I had the simple idea of a girl stuck in the woods because she transformed into a dragon at night. From there Helena and Tristian came about to take on that premise. That's what happened with my current WIP. I thought of the basic idea but the characters didn't come out to play until I had to come up with names so that I could actually start writing. Under this umbrella, is the occasional incident when I come up with a dystopian idea and the world comes to me first. Cardinal Three was like that in that I had the basics of my worldbuilding figured out long before I had characters or a plot.

Rarely, it's the plot. I'm a pantser who tends to figure out plot as I go so this doesn't happen to me very often and when it does, the plot is a fairly vague one. Wrecked, a WIP that I will eventually find the courage to revise, came as a partial plot. Usually I have to dig deeper with the characters or premise to figure out what the plot will be rather than thinking of it as the initial idea.

What about you? When you get a new idea, what's the first thing to come to you?


J.I. O'Neal said...

We seem to have a bit in common when it comes to writing techniques :) I, too, am a panster and, usually it's the basic premise that comes to first. I have had a few characters come first before anything else - the protagonist in my series of crime fiction novels is a prime example. I tend to get story ideas from dreams most often, and, occasionally, they come from true events. Anyone else do this?