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The Creative Process · 1:41am Jul 20th, 2012

After my last blog post, some people showed an interest in knowing what my creative process looks like when writing a fic. Its never exactly the same twice, but I'll try to give you the gist of it, in hopes that some amongst you may find it interesting, or that some of my fellow writers will go "Huh, I do that differently..." or "Hey, that's what I do, too!"

I'd also like to use this opportunity to point you towards a very short (1200 words) fanfic you probably haven't read, but which I experienced as quite bitter-sweet despite its length. Give it a try if you have five minutes to spare: http://www.fimfiction.net/story/37661/A-letter-from-Cotton-Weaver

Now on with the meat of the today's post:

First is, of course, an idea. I generally have no shortage of these, and they come to me in many guises. I come by my best ideas through a combination of intuition and feeling, so it's difficult to explain exactly how I came to think about a certain concept. When I'm actively trying to think of an idea, though, I just think of a few things: What is my goal? What emotions do I want to instil in my readers? How would someone else instil those emotions in me? Usually that last question gives me an idea quite quickly, as I work from my own feelings up. Every gruesome scene in Cheerilee's Garden, for instance, was written after the question "What is it that disturbs me?" and the basic storyline is what it is because that's what I experience as unjust, and that's the kind of story it is.

Once I've got an idea, I'll start thinking about a rough sequence of actions for the story, as well as a title (I think titles are very important, they're what a potential reader sees first). Generally speaking, I'll do this while walking somewhere, while on public transportation or, frequently, while lying in bed just before I fall asleep. I'll generally have the story, start to finish, drafted out in my head before I even commit a single word to "paper". Frequently, I'll even have complete stories waiting in my head while I'm writing a different story. Right now, for example, I'm writing Of Maids and Mistresses, but the next two fics already have a good basis in my mind. Before I move on I'll generally have a chat with Aurebesh, a good friend of mine (you may know him from the ponyville maps he makes on deviantart based on scenes from the show: http://aurebesh.deviantart.com/art/Map-of-Ponyville-Labeled-v2-0-215925777? and http://aurebesh.deviantart.com/gallery/#/d4jjksr amongst many others, he even has house interiors mapped) about my ideas, to see what he thinks. he lets my bounce ideas off of him a bit, and then I continue, in the knowledge that I'm not wasting my time on a silly story with 200554237 plot holes.

Then we get to the actual writing of the fic. This is where I see if the idea in my head translate onto paper. Usually it does, sometimes it doesn't, and then things get scrapped. As I write I flesh out the rough draft in my head more, it gets a more definitive shape, more details. Don't think that the image in my head is rigid, either; I'll often add entirely new chapters, ideas or plot elements to the original idea if they come to me while writing. In fact, I'm always a little afraid I'll get a good idea while half-way in the story, which is why I generally write ALL of the story before posting it. With Of Maids and Mistresses, I've found a bit of a compromise: I wrote it up to a point where I could update in small chapters daily for a week or so, and then started publishing the chapters while I continued to write the continuation of the story. Like this, I'm relatively sure I won't have to retcon suddenly, while avoiding 20k word chapters like Cheerilee's Garden and Scarlet Harvest.

Generally speaking, I'll write about 4k words, proofread it myself (out loud, so I heard how the sentences flow) and then "approve" it for my proofreader, Pea, to read. He's enormously diligent, so I know that by the next day I'll have his notes and comments waiting, and I can go on writing. Every so many updates, I'll ask 3-4 people to do a proofreading of the entire story so far, so that they can find additional mistakes and offer an opinion from a viewpoint that Pea, as someone who's been closely involved with the project piece by piece, lacks.

Then once the story is complete, I'll proofread it myself one last time, and then off it goes!

I look forward to hearing about how you guys do it in the comments.

P.S.; The Of Maids and Mistresses updates are catching up on my writing speed: I hope I can continue to do daily updates (and the next 2-3 days are secure) but no promises! ^^

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Comments ( 10 )

Interesting. All this seems familiar to my own process, though different, as no two authors think alike. I have to ask, how varied are you ideas? For me, I can come up with any random thing. A good punny name, a slice of irony... perhaps something as minute as wording that could make good feels. Do you get these sort of ideas? Or more general ideas?


Proofreading is fun.


I tend to be more interested in the grand overarching design, rather than in very specific word choices and the like. Sometimes I could be "Oh, and when I get to this part i'll do x, and it'll be awesome!" but usually I just focus on the idea behind the story and its general flow, in full confidence that funny wording, names, and so on will spontaneously come to me when I start writing, as it always has so far.

Ah. I tend to get the most random of ideas. Sometimes a character trait, a personality, or maybe a plot device that would work good with certain circumstances...


That's fine, and can be very useful provided that you have an outlet for it, but it's just not all that much to go on if you think about it. Often I'll be listening to someone tell me about their excellent idea for an interesting world, with plenty of unique elements in it, and then when they finally fall silent I'll say "Right, that's the setting, so what's the story?" and they'll draw a blank. Characters, settings, and so on are only as good as the stories they are set in, so I tend to build those based upon the needs of the story.

Not "What kind of story can I build for this character trait?" because more often than not you'll just end up building a glass cage, with no substance or function other than to allow a look at the character inside, but rather "This is the story. What characters can I place within the story in order to make it feel alive and make readers relate?" At least that is my take on it.

That's not the only kind of ideas I get, don't get me wrong! :twilightsheepish: I prefer to wait until I have an actual plot idea before I start taking things from my idea cloud to add to it. It's like having a bunch of Legos, but not a set, so you wait until you have a set, then you decide what to add on.


Oh, well, I think we all have bits and pieces of ideas in our head, I just tend to get ideas as a package, with the characters wrapped in the story, rather than as building blocks as you call it. An interesting difference ^^

While we're conversing, can I have your autograph? *holds out quill and a Cheerilee doll*

Interesting process. Mine is very disorganised and rampant which is why I had been waiting for this post to see how you do it. This may have helped a lot in my writing. Thanks, much! Looking forward to more of your works in future. :twilightsmile:


But of course. *pricks his own finger with the quill and signs the doll with his blood*


No problem, glad to hear it was of some use!

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