So, I am taking part in #WriterInMotion (Read about it here), showing the drafting process of a short story from rough draft to professionally edited polish. By Saturday I will self-edit my story and post it up here, but I also thought it might be worth showing how I went about getting from prompt to the my first draft of my WiM story (which you can read here)
So, before I decided to do #WriterInMotion, I was feeling quite a bit of FOMO as various twitter people were taking part and it sounded like a wonderful exercise. But it was already a week in and it seemed too late. Until I realised I had over 55 hours to get it done.
Long time readers of this blog will know that I am a #SuperFan of the Australian Writers Centre Furious Fiction competition (you can find out all about it here). So for the last seventeen months, I have been writing a 500 word short story based on criteria circulated at the start of the weekend. It might be a word you need to use, or a first sentence, or an item that must be visible in the story. Twice it has been a photo prompt. So I had plenty of experience of writing quickly and decided to I sign up. But now I had to find the weird.
You see, one thing I’d realised over seventeen short stories is that I like weird. I am a speculative fiction writer, and I like taking everyday things and turning them strange. The picture for our prompt was beautiful and evocative. What weird could I find in that broken boat?
It leant itself to something spooky. I wondered if my protagonist could sense something evil or malevolent about the boat? Somewhere the idea struck that maybe there was something in that spot that aged things. But then that quickly flipped to a protagonist who aged everything she touched with her fingers and that was what happened to the boat. She would need to wear gloves to protect the world. But then wouldn’t the gloves themselves age? She would need so many!
And as I thought about the practicality of endlessly ageing gloves, I was there. I’d found my weird.
After that I just started writing. Hannah became Hannah because that’s what Davison yelled out to her across the street. Davison was always the boys name.
I wrote little bits and pieces but it wasn’t really a story yet, I had a scene in town and Hannah and Davison at the boat and the image of Hannah saving the preemie baby, but I couldn’t work out what went in the middle.
So I opened a new document and started again. This is my technique when I get stuck. Something about the fresh start helps it all to come together. And after I wrote a new version of the trip from town I realised what I needed in the middle. A family dinner. An easy way to show how Hannah’s gift affected those around her and an opportunity for tension and characterisation.
I probably spent a day and a half thinking about the story, an hour or so on my thrown away version, and an hour on the first draft. I did a quick proof read for spelling (I couldn’t resist), but other than that I posted about fifteen minutes after I finished it.
So that’s how I went from a writing prompt to a first draft. I have really enjoyed hearing how others wrote their stories, and you can find links to the other participants here.
And for my other fellow writers, and Furious Fiction friends, I’d love to hear from you. How do you go from a prompt/criteria or idea, to the first draft of a story?