Writing is Like a Box…

As part of my Cin Wikkid: April Fools For Love tour, I did an interview where I was asked the question–what is your writing process? It made me realize writing is like a box.

Have you ever folded the flaps of a box together so they interlock? Sometimes I get it right first try, barely bending the corners. Sometimes I wrestle with it forever, breaking the corners and giving myself paper cuts. (If you’re curious, I looked up a video of the process on YouTube. This person makes it look easy!)

That is my writing process, angling and sawing, making character, plot, and emotion all fit.

One flap is a spark of inspiration, something that ignites my imagination. Say, a young cop on her first patrol, interrupting a mugging, managing to subdue the mugger only to be attacked by vampires—only to have the vampires attacked by a bigger, badder vampire. But then she tries to arrest the bigger, badder vampire.

The second flap is character, with the hero or heroine’s goal, motivation and conflict as the skeleton. I’ll usually create a symbol for the hero or heroine for a more concrete handle on their character.

Third flap is theme. It’s usually something I’ve actively struggled with, to make it sing for the reader.

Fourth flap is plot. Hero, heroine, and romance all have the five big turning points of Catalyst, Big Event, Pinch, Crisis, and Climax. Mentally I play with possibilities for each of those fifteen events, trying to picture which will be most in character while creating the richest story. After I create preliminary scenes around those fifteen points, I’ll play with order to spark the most tension.

Then I start folding.

The characters firm up as I go. The plot points often change as I see better ways to make them resonate. Even after the draft is done, editing is another process almost as long as the writing. I tease the flaps into place, making sure they’re tight and square–making sure the story doesn’t get laggy or confused, the beginning and ending grab me, and the middle is a nice rise of tension. Then I go back and pull up the peaks and push down the troughs, making sure action and emotion deliver as much punch as possible.

Authors, what’s your process? Readers, do you like to see the process or is it so much sausage?

About Mary Hughes

Who am I? A lover of stories that crackle with action and love. A mother, a flutist, a binge-TV-watcher of NCIS, Sherlock, and Agents of SHIELD. Most of all, a believer in grand passion. Mary's online and would love to hear from you! Website http://www.maryhughesbooks.com/ Blog http://maryhughesbooks.blogspot.com/ Group Blog http://www.lustwithalaugh.com/ Group Blog http://magicalmusings.com/ Facebook http://www.facebook.com/MaryHughesAuthor Twitter http://www.twitter.com/MaryHughesBooks Newsletter signup http://www.maryhughesbooks.com/index.html#MHNewsletter
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3 Responses to Writing is Like a Box…

  1. Edie Ramer says:

    Mary, your box process looks so neat compared to my messy process. I actually do like to have a GMC, though it often changes as I write. So much changes as I write. And I definitely don’t do turning points. They come organically (sometimes out of the blue – changing my plot) as I write. I never made sausage, so I’ll think of mine as more like a dessert that I throw some nuts and fruits into the mix. Or maybe I’ll start off wanting to make a banana pie but end up making banana ice cream. (Can you tell that I have bananas in the freezer right now? 😆 )

    • Mary Hughes says:

      Lol, Edie! I love the image of your process as making a dessert. Mine is pretty messy and there are a lot of adjustments too. Banana ice cream for the win!

      • Edie Ramer says:

        Mary, I made the banana ice cream last night, but it actually tasted more like a banana smoothie/shake. It was good but not ice cream.

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