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May 23rd, 2012
The Thinker

The Thinker, San Francisco

This is a bronze sculpture of Rodin’s The Thinker, which stands outside the Fine Arts Museum in San Francisco.

Very appropriate for my post today since thinking is exactly what I’ve been doing this week. I’m about to start a new book. I have two series underway, and I’m tossing up which one to work on first. Beginnings and endings I have—for both stories. I even have titles, but the direction the stories will take in the middle? Ah, that’s the mystery.

The thinking stage is where I decide what my characters look like and what they want from life. I ponder about the conflict between the characters. I toss many and varied ideas into a pot inside my brain and percolate them, sometimes for months until I start writing. While I’m not a plotter, this part of my process helps me understand my characters and stories.

This time I’m trying something different. I’m attempting a method called Meet in the Middle where I work out 15 plot points for my story. Here’s a link to a post that explains Claudia Suzanne’s Meet in the Middle method of plotting. The resulting list of plot points is loose enough not to scare the pantser in me too much, but it will provide a framework so that I don’t stall because I’m not sure where to take my story. At least that’s the theory.

I’m also using the Manuscript app for iPad, recommended by author Brinda Berry. The index cards are very handy for my “thinking” notes, and it’s good not having to hunt for my notebook all the time. I have several and they all look the same. There’s a lesson to learn there, but it seems I’m a little slow!

Author Maria Zannini has a great post on style sheets. Although I doubt I’m ever going to be totally organized in this area, I am thinking about details a little more and the Manuscript app has proved helpful in keeping everything together.

My plan is to write one story in July and one story in August, writing as fast as I can. If anyone is interested in doing writing challenges, do shout out. I find working with other writers  helps me focus and get words down on the page. June is set aside for editing two completed manuscripts. That’s the plan anyway. I figure if I write it down, I’ll make a fool of myself if I don’t follow through. September and October are for a holiday. Island with a palm tree

Writers: how do you go about starting a new book? Do you have a thinking period?
Readers: where do you do your best thinking?

15 comments to “The Thinker”

  1. Brinda
      · May 23rd, 2012 at 1:38 am · Link

    Thanks for the mention, Shelley! I hope you like it as much as I do.

    I’ll have to check out the Meet in the Middle link. I haven’t heard of that one, but it sounds very interesting.

    • Shelley Munro
        · May 24th, 2012 at 12:24 am · Link

      You’re welcome. I always learn stuff from your techie posts.

  2. Amy Gallow
      · May 23rd, 2012 at 4:01 am · Link

    I have twenty contracted, or published, stories and an equal number of manuscripts at various stages of completion and everyone has followed a different creative path.
    One of my unpublished (as yet) stories was planned in its entirety in Microsoft Project, because I was managing a project using that software at the time and played with the story idea in odd moments as the project progressed. (It had a critical path analysis and all the works)
    Another story (published) began from a single scene in a forgettable movies and grew as I used it for a teaching tool until a group of students challenged me to write it whole.
    The one I’m working on at the moment was begun in 1982 when I was working on offshore supply boats and my original notes (I still have them) listed the nine men in the crew and gave short biographical back stories to each one, plus the young lady who takes an unofficial trip on its last voyage. With that in mind and the beginning and ending written, I started writing.
    In one case I used a borrowed writing software to plan everything down to the last detail and then wrote an entirely different story.
    The only common factor is that the first draft is rarely the same as the finished article.
    “Coasting” the sea story to be released on August first had fourteen drafts, ten written in the period 1972 to 1975 and four more quite recently.
    I guess this proves that my thinking period is continuous and does not stop until the story is released.

    • Shelley Munro
        · May 24th, 2012 at 12:38 am · Link

      It’s interesting hearing how other writers work. I think part of the writing journey is experimenting with different methods and taking what works with each book/author.

      LOL Normally I hear that authors settle into one method.

      • Amy Gallow
          · May 24th, 2012 at 3:06 pm · Link

        Every story I’ve written has taught me things that I still use and given me the confidence to continue the learning curve to becoming the writer I wish to be.
        My professional career was the same. Circumstances made me take the long route, so I learnt as I went, continually experimenting until I could command a broad skill base and project a presence that gave me access to positions that honed those skills even more.
        So, when I turned aside to become a writer, I had the pathway to success clearly in mind.

  3. Savannah Chase
      · May 23rd, 2012 at 5:17 am · Link

    Thank you for the links. I like the way you write and create. I’ve had stories that have shuffled around in my mind for months and would make notes. I’ve never ever really sat down and plotted a whole book..I tend to make notes and write scene ideas, character info…Little things. Good luck with everything..

    • Shelley Munro
        · May 24th, 2012 at 12:41 am · Link

      Savannah, I’m talking very “loose” plotting. If I try to nail down all the small details I tend to get bored with the story.

      I’m enjoying using the Manuscript App. I think it’s going to prove very helpful.

  4. Maria Zannini
      · May 23rd, 2012 at 6:07 am · Link

    I spend the majority of my crafting time on thinking before I ever write the story itself.

    Once I figured out all the variables then I feel comfortable writing the story without interruption or indecision.

    • Shelley Munro
        · May 24th, 2012 at 12:43 am · Link

      Nodding. I try to think the entire story through, but once I have a solid start I tend to begin writing. I do the rest of my thinking between writing sessions.

      The day to day chores are probably perfect for thinking about your stories.

  5. Mary Kirkland
      · May 23rd, 2012 at 11:37 am · Link

    That’s a great question and one I have an answer too that I think many people can relate to. I do my very best thinking in bed, right before falling asleep. I seem to have some of my best ideas and thoughts right before dozing off….only to forget everyone of them when I wake up the next morning…lol

    • Shelley Munro
        · May 24th, 2012 at 12:46 am · Link

      LOL I do that too. I have some great ideas before dropping off to sleep. I’ll think, I must remember that, yet when I wake in the morning it’s all a blank.

  6. Angela Brown
      · May 23rd, 2012 at 12:00 pm · Link

    I definitely have a thinking period. I like to allow the idea to blossom – noting it on a Post It note that I can always go back to – then let it bounce around my head. The result is a collection of things that form a trail of bread crumbs: Idea>Bounce>Supplement to idea>Bounce> etc. I write things down and eventually form a loose chapter by chapter outline that I eventually detour from since the idea doesn’t ever stop bouncing.

    • Shelley Munro
        · May 24th, 2012 at 12:52 am · Link

      I like the idea of a bouncing idea. The thing is that once you get words on paper, the writer can always fiddle with them and change them. It’s getting the words in the first place that’s the hard thing!

  7. Nas
      · May 23rd, 2012 at 4:21 pm · Link

    Hi Shelley,

    I’ve always been writing snippets here and there. From my travels and whenever inspiration struck. But need to take some advice like yours above and try doing something about all the uncomplete…..

    • Shelley Munro
        · May 24th, 2012 at 12:53 am · Link

      Definitely finish them! Think of me standing behind you, a disapproving look on my face LOL