A fellow writer and I teamed up to set up our own writing partnership. We are not collaborating on a book; instead, we are supporting each other in our attempt to become better writers. We agreed that we would work on independent projects and then turn to one another for constructive criticism as well as encouragement. We also decided to periodically issue ourselves a writing challenge, set parameters, and then compare notes.
Our first attempt at this came to fruition this weekend. We each took the challenge to create a new character – we described the character’s appearance, his or her background, what made the character tick, and decided to see where our imaginations led us. Happily, we each came up with an idea for a story based on what we wrote about the characters. I now can’t wait to get cracking at writing the story!
From time to time, I’ve wondered if there is a correct way to develop a story. Must the writer already have a rough outline in her head of the story she wants to tell? Or does she develop the story based on the characters she creates? Which comes first – the character or the plot?
I must say I like the idea of approaching a story by beginning with a character and then working backward. I used to think the best way to approach a story was with a plot already in mind and then write characters that advanced the plot as I envisioned it.
But now I’m not so sure.
I’ve always found it easy to listen to the voices of my characters. They are very real to me and much loved – even the psychotic ones! If you let them talk to you, they’ll surprise you with their stories. My character did that for me this weekend; she shared her story with me. Now it’s up to me to give life to it.
How do you approach your stories? Do you begin with your character – or do you start with the outline of a plot?