An opportunity came up the other week to develop characters we were working on by writing stories with them based on specific prompt scenarios. At first the initial prompt did not seem to apply to my characters at all, but eventually inspiration struck.
I don’t know that I learned anything new about my existing characters from working on that prompt, but it did allow me to play out a scene that had previously been a little hazy in my mind. That is a very good thing.
What surprised me about the prompt fic is how this one scene ended up spawning ideas not just for later on in the existing characters’ lives, but for the next generation of characters, as well. All of a sudden Maddox and Kieran’s children are living in my head, and I don’t even have a definite outline for Maddox and Kieran’s own story. So I find myself genuinely torn at the moment between being thrilled at how Phallon and Connor’s story seems to be playing out, and being frustrated that I seem to be getting farther away from Maddox and Kieran.
When I very first started writing a little over ten years ago, I had one, maybe two ideas at a time. I wrote from start to finish on one and then worked on the next. Once in a while, if a story idea was particularly short I might pause a current work in progress to get the new story down on paper, but it really didn’t happen very often.
In the last year I find myself almost completely at the mercy of the muse at times. I started out ignoring new ideas, only to find myself irritated when I could not recapture them later. Then I would write down new ideas, whatever pieces came to me the most strongly – just notes, so that I would remember the substance of the idea later on. As I continue to be carried along on the wave of whatever comes to me, though, I can’t help wondering if what I’m making is progress, or just word count.
Not that word count is a bad thing, but part of the goal is to actually finish stories, right?
So I guess what I would like to know is what happens for everyone else? Do you have a pretty linear writing process, or do you have multiple ideas going at once? If you do have more than one, then how do you balance them? What happens if a new idea starts beating you over the head?