Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Recursive layering as I write ~ my 3 steps

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When I write, it is the voice of the character that comes first. I hear the dialogue, and it generates setting, conflict and motivation for me. So when I write, dialogue is first. Sure, there will be tags and description that comes with it, but it is minimalistic. 

After a run of dialogue, I will head back over the scene and start layering characterization, reaction and action. I return again to consider setting. And then again, I return to add sensory details, behaviorisms and determine what backstory contributed to how the scene went, how it will affect future plot issues and did any subconscious writing take place that dug into the story deeper (which is always a hallelujah moment). Sometimes a character will say something or do something, and I’ll just sit there and think, whoa, that explains a lot or that is going to be a bugger to get over.

For example, in At Any Given Time (Students of Jump, a standalone CES novel), Samantha worries about how she'll react to the sight of blood, hers or someone else’s. She knows it makes her nauseous and dizzy, a complication that worries her. This is not a major issue for a time traveler under normal conditions, and she has lots of time jumping experience. But this time with an injured search and retrieval jumper, it turns out to be a real issue she has to manage through. That’s not the main conflict, but it sure added dimension to an already bad situation for Sam. The fact that she is fully aware of her problem with blood and is self-reflective and determined to get the situation rectified provides humor and stress to the story that the little aspect of character helped to create.

I suppose it sounds rather clinical to say I tuck in more details later, but it is not like that at all. The initial run of dialogue flows out as if I’m eavesdropping from behind something and can’t see or hear anything but what they are saying. It sets the stage for the whole scene. The layering is another me standing there in the room, cave, whatever the setting is and looking around, smelling, touching things, asking the character questions and really just being a peeping Tom for my reader (and me, too).

Every writer has their own process. This is mine most of the time. Some writers edit like mad as they go and other writers don't go back over their work until the complete draft is done. And there are numerous variations in between. If you're a writer, what do you do? If not, have you thought about how writers build their stories? 


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