A little background. I’m not much of a plotter. When it comes to writing, I’m definitely a pantser. You’ll get brief outlines from me, probably quick one sentence fragments of what’s coming next over several chapters, but rarely do I engage in a full-on synopsis for a story before it’s written. Framework? Yes, I prefer to have one of them. The rest I fill with imagination.
There’s been a few times where my co-workers have had to do the old wave-your-hands-in-front-of-Steve’s-face-to-get-his-attention move. They’re no longer surprised by it. They know my brain can be filled with work items at one moment, only to have them all shoved aside as my brain contemplates how to get the hero of my latest work from Point A to Point B. Lately, that involves a car chase.
What keeps these daydreams going? What fuels my imagination? Books. Movies. Graphic novels. But also, music. My wife recently commented it seems strange that I never walk anywhere in town—usually to and from work—without listening to music. Those five or 10 minutes are times of solitude, of distraction from the everyday goings on of life, in which my mind wanders far afield. Far enough to leave this Earth and wind up on, say, an alternate version of our world in which aliens arrived 15 years ago, or a warped planet filled with steam-powered vehicles and Ice Age mammals, or a space station on the frontiers of the galaxy.
I know people who need silence to work. Me? I create best with the aid of a soundtrack. Rock music for action and chases, quiet orchestral scores for epic journeys and character introspection. Slow tempo helps me think. Bold, fast beat helps me produce.
Now, this doesn’t lend itself to planning. Rushing through an action scene is great. Taking the time to formulate the plot, to discover and shape the main character’s motivations, are far more in-depth processes. They require time and effort.
That doesn’t mean we’re talking about the creative equivalent of cracking open the Algebra textbook and poring through math problems. The best ideas occur when they’re least expected. For example, I’ve come up with some great plot twists while in the shower. Unfortunately, they appeared about 30 seconds in. Which leaves me two options: one, to get out and write them down, hands dripping wet and feet slick enough that I’d probably slip and crack my skull (which, by the way, is not conducive to good writing); or two, spin them around in my brain until I can get them onto paper.
What I’m trying to say is, daydreaming and planning go hand in hand. Creating a story that entertains, that keeps the reader immersed in another world, that keeps them in the passenger seat of the adventure, means never losing sight of these aspects. You do have to outline. You do have to plot. Most importantly, you do have to dream.
Let your brain wander. Go for a walk. Turn up the music. Ignore everything else, until those ideas and images and words stream together. They’ll need shaping to become the novel you’ve been tasked to write. Then, for heaven’s sake, write it all down.
About Steve's Book, The Word Endangered:
Ronie Kendig is an award-winning, bestselling author who grew up an Army brat. After twenty-five years of marriage, she and her hunky hero husband have a full life with their children, a Maltese Menace, and a retired military working dog in Northern Virginia. Find Ronie online:
Reviewers call Ronie's newest release, EMBERS, "Simply amazing!"