I began storytelling at an early age. My brother and I had a game we played together where we developed a character, an avatar of one of us, used the character through stories we created. The stories were always stories of the adventures the boy had.
I don’t recall we ever named the character, maybe we did, I’m not sure. But, we knew him well. Whenever we were telling a story about him, if we deviated from his profile, a word we didn’t know then, one of us would point out he wouldn’t do whatever the other was proposing. So the game went on for years.
I think we played until I was about fourteen years old. My brother was sixteen when I was fourteen. One day he announced that he was no longer going to play our game. He felt like he was too old to play anymore.
I went on playing for years by myself. I think I stopped somewhere in my early twenties. But, for the next forty years I thought about my stories. Like many others, I didn’t have time to write, or so I thought.
Finally, when I retired, I began working on my stories again, this time, writing them down. Unfortunately, the first thing I did was write a novel. That novel is very rough, perhaps hopelessly flawed. I have it in a box on a shelf behind me. I have looked at it, then think about how much editing will have go go into it and put it back. Maybe some day …
I wrote short stories while writing the novel, and submitted them to magazines for publication. So far, I have had only a few publications.
Then I heard an inspiring presenter at the West Texas Trail Writer’s Conference in Ft. Davis, Texas, in 2012. His name was Mike Blakely. He was such a high level professional in how he went about writing, I moved to change what I was doing and began to emulate his practice. With a year of listening to him, I had written four books. I am not caught up with editing everything I wrote, but I love how much I have accomplished.
His major points were:
- Visualize what you are writing about
- If you can, go to the scene – since I write fiction, I find pictures off the Internet that depict what I am visualizing, then describe them in my text.
- Get as much background as you can on your characters – again, since my characters are fictitious, I develop a broad character sketch.
- He also learned to outline by studying what others were doing – I use a story board, then an outline, then transfer that data to screvener.com (more about that later).
I hope I have recalled correctly his process. If not, it is no fault of his.