Often, my writing style is jumbled at best. When the words start to flow, it’s all I can do to keep up and get ideas down in a coherent form. Aspects of stories come to me at all times, especially when I’m out walking and I’ve taken to using the voice recorder on my phone to try to capture them in these instances. Sometimes, ideas come line by line; sometimes paragraph by paragraph.
Editing is very important to my process. I regard myself as primarily an editor with sporadic bursts of inspiration. Once I have something written down, the real process begins. Then I can start hacking away at the words to craft something worthy of publication. I refer to this part of the process as sculpting.
Just as a sculptor chips away at a stone to fashion a carving, I snip a line here, smooth out a sentence there, slowly bringing the points into focus. As the process advances, a more complete form takes shape.
In Phoenix, the final story in Fables of the New South, the tale I imagined was much more elaborate than the story I ended up writing. That’s because, in my head, I imagined many facets of the story that over-complicated things. Once I started putting words onto the page, I realized I didn’t have to go into such detail. With Phoenix, I already had most of the main points worked out before I started writing, so the actual story didn’t take long.
With Mockingbird, the first story in Fables, I employed a different process. Mockingbird started out as a short piece loosely based on the myth of Echo and Narcissus, and it wasn’t until I added Brian’s section that I realized the potential for a more complex story. As I began writing his section, I asked myself if Brian knew Claire, a character I developed for another project, and I decided that he did. This added yet another layer to the story. In the earliest published version of Fables, the stories of each character were interspersed throughout, but when I had time to reconsider, I presented them separately, with a bit of a coda following the main resolution of the conflict.
Writing is a cumulative process, one idea building on the next. Every writer has a different method for getting the words down. However one chooses to work, it’s always the story that’s the key. The art is in finding it.