Last night I joined a friend to watch a zombie movie. This was my first zombie movie ever and only happened as a birthday present to him, since he has been trying to convince me that zombies are awesome. I winded up freaking myself out and had to calm myself down by holding a knife, and thus scaring him because most normal people don't carry knives as if they are an extension of their body.
On the way over to his house, while there was still light out and I was not yet terrified of everything, a zombie story came to me. A really mad protagonist, who, as far as I can tell, defies the normal zombie cliches. From the little I do know about zombie media, since I am only recently exposed to anything.
Since Friend Person is an avid Zombie person, I figured I would tell him about my story. Because I secretly love it already. And actually will have science stuff in it. Mwahaha!
Anyway, so I told him about it and mentioned that I started another one this week. Because I am constantly referring to a million different stories, he sort of gave me this look before asking about my writing process. Or, timeline. Timeline would be a better word. He didn't ask if I force myself to write or how my writing comes about. He asked if I write from start to finish, working on a book until it's done. In trying to explain what he meant he gave some hilarious summaries of Othello and Hamlet. Apparently Shakespeare was secretly ghetto.
Only one time have I ever worked solely on one story. And I did get that story finished. With lots of pain towards the end because the characters stopped cooperating, but it is finished. I think that took about a month. I would come home from school and sit at the computer, bleeding out words and sometimes holding knives up to the character's throats until they started talking.
I still hate that ending by the way.
Almost everything else, though, is scattered. Everywhere. I can be actively working on five different stories withing a week. Sometimes more. This past week alone I have started two new stories, started filling in some stuff for one, and written for... 3 characters. I think. It feels that way.
A lot of my stories I can't work start to finish. I will know basic stuff or know the characters extremely well, but I don't know everything. Or, because everything is super connected, I need to make sure everything is as matched up as possible. I can't have it all nice and sunny when in another story, at the same house, the same night, it's all nice and rainy. Because I am both lazy and tend to throw all of myself into my stories, I try not to write stuff with a high likelihood of having to be tossed or changed significantly.
There are two stories I have been working on since I was 12. They are probably the least complete. Mostly because I knew the basic plot but was missing a lot of the world. If I had finished those stories when I wanted to, so much would be missing. I would have had no idea who the wizard was or how important my MC's lineage is. Or who her grandmother is and thus why she actually is important even though she's not the hero, her friend is.
My fantasy trilogy would have had the wrong history and would have been really confusing. It took me years to figure out where in the universe those stories are and why they need to be told. And they do. In the universe I have, those stories are super important. But if I had sat down when I was twelve, or even fifteen, and made those stories happen, so much of their depth would have been gone.
So I let my writing happen naturally. If I can't get anything story-wise out of my characters but I want to write, I will start working on characterization. Usually if I am doing this someone wants to write. Sometimes five people want to write and I wind up sitting at my notebook or computer staring at the blankness because nothing comes out.
But mostly, only one character wants my attention, so that's who I work on. It's a bit of a messy process, as sometimes it's really hard to find that one scene I know I wrote at some point, and piecing everything together is going to be fun as heck, but oh well, that's how I write. Though, admittedly, I am considering starting to be home evenings and working mainly on one story because I want that one done and I think it's time for it to be told.
So maybe this time I am ready to sit and work almost solely on a story. Or to focus on that one, as I am sure there will still be the clatter of other characters.
What's your writing process/timeline?