I am certain, if you speak to any author, you will get different answers about everything I post here today. Arguments for this, against that, and most if not all, will be just a matter of the words used; semantics if you will. However, I am going to speak with my limited experience consisting mostly of poetry, short writings/stories, and one novel(so far) and let you be judge of whether it is useable to you.
In my experience, there are 5 stages of a writing, any writing, that you must journey through in order to achieve whatever your end goal is for the writing. These are what I call the five C’s. Each stage is an important part of the journey, and therefore, I believe each should be given equal weight. Let us begin with the first stage…
Concept – This stage is the one in which we conceive the basic idea of what we are going to write about. It is the birth of an idea. It is the decision on if it is valid, useful, or meaningful enough, for us to write about. There are many ways in which authors/writers achieve an idea. Many will say they do not even know where the ideas come from, and perhaps that might be true, for a lot of them. They may not know, at least not consciously, but that does not mean the ideas just come from nowhere. It just means, they do not realize exactly how they arrived at the place, where the idea became something more than mist of the mind. I believe no matter what any of them say, the real key to finding good ideas for writing, is to not be looking for them in the first place. When you spend too much time searching, your mind is not open to what might be right in front of you. Much like those missing car keys you later find in your pocket.
Once you have received the idea, you then have to decide if it is something, you really want to write about. In doing this you should ask yourself a few questions. Does the idea inspire you? Does it excite you? Is it important to you? If the answer to these questions is “yes” then another round of questions should take place. Can I write this in a way that is different? Can I make it important to others? In what ways can I make this interesting to the reader? By answering these last few questions you begin to validate that the idea has merit and begin to perceive how you may begin the next stage of the writing.
Construction- Many writers will think of this stage as the “outline”, however, that is not all that this stage consists of. Whether any of this is written down is completely up to the individual and what works best for them. What everyone wants to achieve is the same. They want to take this concept that they have in their mind and now begin to mold it into something that is useable. By asking more questions, and this time looking for detailed answers, we shape the concept into a basic story. Questions like, how can I make this different enough to be interesting? What can I bring from personal experience that will add to it? What needs to happen, in this writing, for me to get across what I am trying to tell? When answering these types of questions you will likely find multiple answers and that is not a bad thing. Every answer should be saved because every answer might be of use. Even if the answer does not end up directly in the writing it may lead you to something that does become part of the story. Whether your answers are noted on paper or inside your mind, they should all be considered, noted, and referred to often. Once you have decided, what you need and want in your writing, you can move on to the next stage.
Creation- Entire books have been written about this stage alone. Not meaning to detract from those books but also not desiring to write a book here on this one stage either. I am going to only broach the most important part of this stage and leave it you to find what exactly works for you. This stage consists of the actual writing of the book and there is one golden rule that should be kept in mind while writing, even just a small piece of poetry. The story comes first. Yep, that is it. Seems fairly logical but you would be surprised how many writers get lost in the prose and forget the story. What is the point of your writing if you have no story? The reader came to the table to read a story and that is exactly what you should be giving them, as a writer. If you want their attention, their passion, their interest, you must give them something they want in return. A tale, a yarn, a story. If it is not needed to tell the story then it should be removed. I am not saying you cannot craft the story with some flair and gusto. I am saying that scene of small talk that has nothing to do with the story and does not show an important development in the character should be removed. That paragraph of description that can be pared to a sentence should be pruned. In this stage we want to tell the story but we also want to keep the reader interested. Having crafted our wonderful story we move to the next stage.
Commitment- While the semantics of whether this is a stage or if it is a element of the entire book can be debated, I choose to believe it is a stage that can happen at any point of the entire process. Think of it as a moveable stage if that makes you more comfortable. This stage not only consists of those times when you do not feel like completing the writing, it also consists of the editing process. Most often this stage comes into play during the latter stages of a writing’s creation. Either the drive to complete the work has left us, or the energy to do the required editing, is simply not present. Whenever or where ever this stage begins to effect us, we have to remember why we began the writing, in the first place. We need to remind ourselves of what exactly we believe this writing we are creating will offer others. We, as writers, have a responsibility to ourselves and others to complete the work. Even if your intention, when starting was to only write for yourself, you owe it to yourself to finish. Trust me when I say this, you’ll feel better about yourself as a person if you finish, no matter who you are writing for. Completing the writing and editing it is not the end though. There is still one stage left.
Conclusion- This stage may consist of many different elements, and they are dependent on what your original intentions were, when you first began the writing. If you began the writing with the intention of writing it only for yourself; a writing for writings sake, so to speak, then you have to mentally put the writing away. Cast it out of your thoughts, put any paper forms of it where ever you decide to put them and move on. If, however, your intention was to share the writing with others, and this is the most common intention behind most writings, then you have to spread the word. Post it, print it, make it known to the world and friends in whatever form you feel comfortable with. If your original intention was to share it, then do so, because otherwise there will be no closure. As human beings, we all have the need or at least a desire, for closure. It is how we move out and move on. So do those things that you feel comfortable with doing and move on. You won’t be able to focus completely on that next great writing of yours, unless you do.
Now, having completed my writing, I will bid you farewell for now. Take care and have a great day!
©-2010 J.B. Thomas