As some of you know, the main character in my Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series is Gin Blanco, an assassin codenamed the Spider. So I’m always on the lookout for spider-related things that I can share online with readers. I saw this spider’s web in a tree a couple of weeks ago. It was the prettiest web that I had seen in a long time, so I snapped a photo. I didn’t see the spider who built it, just the web.
The more I look at the photo, the more I think about how writers are just like spiders. No matter what genre we write, we all start out with a single thread—a character, a plot point, a setting, a problem, etc.—that speaks to us and captures our imaginations. Then, we start building around that first thread, adding more and more threads, and more and more details to our story, like dialogue, descriptions, and dilemmas.
I write in first-person, so for me, that first thread is often my heroine—who she is, what she wants, how her magic works, etc. It’s her voice that usually influences all the other threads of my story, everything from where the book is set to the personalities of the secondary characters to the problems that my heroine faces in the course of the story. It can be a slow process, but thinking about my heroine first is the one that usually seems to work best for me.
It all begins with one thread, and just like with a spider’s web, that one idea that starts with my heroine can expand and spiral out in a dozen different directions, taking me and the story places that I never expected it to. But all the threads are connected, and they all lead back to my heroine.
Hopefully, the pattern that the threads create—the final story—is as intricate and as beautiful as this spider’s web.
What about you guys? Writers, how do you go about building the threads of your books and stories? Readers, what story threads pull you into a book?