Concept, Characters, and then Story. Oh…
Call me crazy (You’re crazy) but I didn’t realize, until this morning, that I need characters before I can plot out any of my story. I’m working on my romantic comedy series, and I have the first book finished, and I’m 10,000 words into the second one. I’ve been trying to get a vague idea for the story-line (at least the first chapter) for the third book, but my mind refuses to go there. And then it dawned on me, I don’t have my characters yet. (Each story in the series will be concluded and will have different main characters.) And now that I think about it, I realize my process has always been concept, characters, and then story.
The concept seems to be what I think of first. With Jaclyn’s Ghost, which I started writing nine-years-ago, the working title was Old Ghost and my concept was: A ghost, who has existed in a building by himself since the 20s, has to deal with a new modern-day ghost. With The Princes of Tangleforest, I had the fairy tale, Rapunzel and mind-control, but I also had an image: a new boy in a new neighborhood sees a beautiful girl at her window with blonde flowing hair, but he doesn’t see her at school.
My characters usually come to mind second. I’m not a character questionnaire profile type of writer. The thought of it makes me cringe. But I do have a basic understanding of the characters before I begin to write. They have a name, a gender, and a personality but that’s about it. Sometimes I don’t even know what they look like. In Silverweed I never gave Scarlet a hair color. By the time I had finished writing, in my mind, she was dark headed, but I never did add it to the book because after I’d asked several prereaders what color hair they thought she had, they all said a different color. Which I thought was very interesting. Anyway, I learn about my characters as I write them, but I at least need a basic understanding of their role in the story.
My conclusion: I can only write the first chapter after I have a concept and characters, then I can plot along the way. So it looks like I will have to be patient and figure out who my characters are (I may have to even wait until I’m finished with the rough draft of book 2) before I can figure out what is going to happen in my third book. Like I always do … apparently.
Love and Laughter,