Thursday, 11 October 2018

B - Doing the Background Work

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Continuing with the Series of A to Z tips, here is my Week #2 post which focuses on Alphabet B....

B is for Background.

Writing stories is more than just creating characters, developing the plot and writing scenes. To be able to do all that you have to first do the 'background' work.

And it begins with brainstorming. Often times, the seed of a story just pops into your head. It might be inspired by something you read in the newspapers, a snatch of conversation you might hear, a photograph or even a long lost memory that randomly floats into your consciousness.

Whatever the inspiration, stories rarely come into existence all fully developed with a beginning, middle and end. Before it turns into a full-fledged story, you need to brainstorm the idea. To me, this is the most exciting phase of creating a new story. The possibilities are endless. You can take the idea in any direction and let your imagination go wild. You don't need to set any boundaries such as genre. Not yet. There is just one rule: not letting yourself get too attached to any of the possibilities.

At this stage I make a lot of notes. Sometimes I'm excited about a character or two. At other times the setting. There are times when I can hear snatches of dialogue in my head or have scenes coming forth.

Photo Credit: Dariusz Sankowski on Unsplash
A notebook and pen are the most handy tools to have at this stage. After a few days (or weeks) of this brainstorming, you begin to realize that you like a certain train of thought more than the others. Now's the time to pin down the idea that fascinates you the most. What about this particular idea or train of thought excites you? Why do you want to tell this story in this particular way and not another? Sometimes the answers will pop up immediately. It's important to jot those down. Because when you get down to writing the story, you often  lose track of that excitement. When you are deep in the trenches of your story and you're bogged down in the details, it's a good idea to revisit your notes in order to grasp that early excitement that started you on the journey.

Writing it down also helps you evaluate the idea...whether it has legs to run through a novella, short story  or novel. Often it enables you to identify the themes that you want to work on while telling this story.

Writing an initial synopsis of the story (not more than 100-150 words) is also extremely vital. It keeps the focus on the big picture without getting lost in the details; before you get to work on filling out that picture with colour, texture and the finer elements.

So, it's always good to take your time on doing the background work before you dive into the writing. The more spadework you do, the easier it gets to plot your story.

Last, but not the least, a disclaimer. Every writer has his/her own process and the process that I have described here is the one that works for me. Feel free to give it a test-drive and tweak it to suit your story/writing process. Happy Writing!

Don't forget to check out these posts in the A to Z Series....

B is For Balancing Work, Life and Writing by Saiswaroopa Iyer

Building a Routine, Backstories, Beta-Readers and Backup by Preethi Venugopala

B is for Blogging as an Author by Sudesna Ghosh

B is for Backstory by Ruchi Singh 

B is for Burnout by Reet Singh





6 comments :

  1. Some fab points - thanks:
    "The more spadework you do, the easier it gets to plot..."
    and
    "Don't get attached" Sigh!

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    1. That 'sigh' says it all! ;) Thanks for reading, Reet! :)

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  2. Nice summary. I guess we all have our own way but it does boil down to the same 'background work'.

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  3. Totally agree with you on doing elaborate 'spadework'. It certainly helps in writing that first draft fast.

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    1. I learnt it the hard way! Thanks for reading, Ruchi. :)

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