The first step is inspiration. This step is very important because people confuse it with ideas they want to write about or characters they want to use for their story. I’m not saying it can’t be both but overall it shouldn’t be because this should be the step where an author’s mind can freely roam and explore without limitations. It should also be the base of all creativity for an author. For me, I firmly believe that God blessed me with a huge imagination and a love for telling an entertaining story. Also my favorite stories are Science Fiction and Fantasy. So it is no surprise that I write Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy. Because my inspirational step is not limited I have also written Science Fiction, Fiction, Short Stories, and poetry. So From my base I add anything that can help my mind explore. For me it’s fast paced music and location where I can go on long walks in nature. If the weather is bad, I just sit somewhere in my car with some kind of nature scenery around me. I recommend to all authors, that after they discover their base to find places, things, music, activities that they like to do. That can lead to their minds to wonder and explore. For some authors their base is just as simple as a place, things, music, etc. You notice that at this point I do not pin point to any one idea or traits for characters. The point is to be able to imagine anything and everything. The biggest mistake I see authors making is at this very first step saying they want some kind of agenda for their book. This can literally kill your book before it even begins. Don’t do it so anything and everything can be possible.
The idea step. This is where you can start to pin point what it is you want to write from your mind freely coming up with it. Still keep in mind that nothing is placed in concrete and your ideas are just ideas. They can be changed or enhanced as you flow creatively through them. In this step you can start to write down your ideas. I wouldn’t write down all your ideas but instead choose the ones you want to write about now. That way your ideas can grow and become attached and some discarded for later or not to be use at all. It is also at this step that authors make the mistake of trying to write multiple books at once. It is my opinion that this is a bad idea and you should keep multiple book ideas to the side so you can write them later. But you should choose one main idea for the book you want to write now. If you are one of those authors that can write multiple books at once, then I tip my hat to you. Just keep in mind that everyone I have heard from in the industry find this to be a bad idea. Mostly because authors get lost in their stories and when it is time to pitch their story they start pitching multiple stories and not just one. Agents and publishing houses want you to pitch one story, NOT multiple ones. You could accidently not give your story ideas the time and energy they need to become alive on the page. Also I will point out here that the best book ideas are ones that have multiple ideas within them. That basically a good book idea is one made up from multiple other working ideas.
The story outline. At this point you have chosen the idea or ideas you want to work with. And now are starting to put together some kind of outline for your story. This is my favorite part because character and places are created in my mind. Also this doesn’t have to be a complete story outline. For example I almost always start with the climax of the story first and then write the beginning to make sure it is logical to itself. Then during the first draft I start writing the middle to connect the two together. I understand some writers like to start with the beginning and some even like to start with the middle. It really doesn’t matter as long as you are moving forward in getting to how your story will unfold. Also this is where writers should be creating characters or putting together an agenda or the point they want to express in their story. You could come to these conclusions for your story in idea step but you should never be coming up with them in the inspirational step. In fact you really shouldn’t be putting anything into concrete at this point either. You should always give yourself room for change and make it easy for you to make changes when you feel it’s needed. Again, I’m not saying you can’t have ideas or agendas in your inspirational step, I’m saying it will limit you and if it doesn’t inspire more ideas, then it is killing your creative process.
The full story idea, for me it’s having a full first rough draft. At this point you should have a beginning, middle, and an ending. You should have a good understanding of what your book is and where it will take your readers. This does not mean your book is ready to be published but should be able to head to the publishing process. As many of you out there might know that the publishing process starts with you as the author making the decision that you want to share your book with the world. This will lead to rewrites, editing and more editing. Not to leave out a lot of other things like writing a hook, short description, long description about your book. I will not be going into great detail about that now because it’s not about the inspirational creative loop. What I do want to talk about is the arrow going back to the inspirational step. This is because I feel that your story should and want to make you go back to that step. That is why I press that that step is very broad so you can easily move back into it. I’m not saying once you have a full story idea you should go right back to that. I am saying you should be able to go back to that book, even years after being written or publish and have it take you back to your inspirational place. When people have a pinpoint idea for their story or even what kind of character they have and then start the inspirational step they are limiting themselves. I have noticed that some authors can even get started with any idea to make their stories grow because of that. I have never met an author yet that said, oh yes I wrote one book now I’m done forever. In fact the exact opposite, they want to write more but because their inspirational step is not open and free. They find themselves having trouble to keep moving in their writing. Also this is the step where an author might want to look for help for their book. It is very easy to make changes and grow and develop your story while doing rewrites and drafts. If you are asking for help before this step, I would suggest focusing on your inspirational base.
To give more information on this process. I can tell you, that for me once I am in my inspiration step the idea flow fast and hard. In fact, in just a few minutes I go from inspiration to ideas to outline. Where I take the longest is writing the first full rough draft, which can take me from a month to two years; Depending on the length of the book. Just like most authors, I get a lot of great ideas at once. I write a lot of them down and have them stored away. I have done this so many times that I now have too many book ideas not getting attention. So when I decided to write my next book, I look through all the ideas I have and put them into my inspirational step. If they do not produce more ideas or make the story grow. I put them to the side again and pick another idea to use. If someday that doesn’t work I will have to go back to finding brand new ideas that I have not already imagined. My point is that your inspirational step must push everything forward and create more inspiration.
I hope this article helps everyone with their inspirational process. Of course other authors have and will have different processes and I don’t expect people to think they have to use my way. Instead I hope this article will lead authors to their own process and help to keep them writing. If you do want to use this process you can of course.
As Always, Happy Reading and Writing Everyone
G. D. Talbot