Guest Post by Jaye L. Knight
Good afternoon, readers. Today I have the pleasure of presenting to you a guest post by the author of of Resistance, the Makilien Trilogy, Where Do I Start, and others. Everyone, give a round of virtual applause for Jaye L. Knight!
Inspiration is the key to every story. How often do you just decide to write a story with not a single idea as to what it’s going to be about? Even if you did, your story would likely begin to take shape based on inspiration from some outside source, whether it be books, movies, or a personal experience. Fuel for stories is everywhere. Any little spark of inspiration can lead to the most amazing story ideas, especially when you mix a bunch of a little sparks together.
Because of this, I am always looking at and analyzing things with the mind of a writer—from everyday life to epic action films. You never know when something is going to ignite your imagination and bring a new character or adventure to life. Imagination is everything, but there are times where it can run a little dry, so I try to surround myself with inspiration. My room, for instance, is covered in an assortment of Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, Sherlock, Pirates of the Caribbean, and other such posters. Why? Well, I love characters. To me, they’re the most important aspect of a story. I like to be surrounded by my favorite fictional characters to remind myself of what makes a great character.
Reading and movies/TV shows are also very important for keeping my imagination overflowing. Absorbing other writers’ techniques or watching an adventure unfold on the screen keeps my mind primed to tell my own stories and opens up a whole slew of new possibilities.
When you begin to see everything in light of a potential story it could contain, sometimes you end up with even more ideas than you know what to do with. I’ll never have time to write all the story ideas that float around in my head. But that doesn’t mean I dismiss them either. I always keep notes on the ideas that come to me. I have a document on my computer of all the bits of inspiration that really stick with me. They’ll never all become their own story, but you never know when you can take elements or characters from different ideas and combine them.
Once some of these ideas take hold and present me with a story that demands to be written, it comes time to develop it. Now, I’m not technically a plotter. I don’t have the patience or desire to write out detailed outlines before I actually begin a story, but I do need to know where the story is going. I have to know where it ends so I know what I’m aiming for. And even though I lean much more heavily toward being a pantser with my writing, I do like to know, at least most of, my major plot points. Then it’s like connecting the dots.
What I like to do when I’m developing a story is have a binder with different sections for planning. For years, this was always in a blue three-ring binder. Now I’ve sort of switched to digital and use OneNote, which I’ve come to love because it’s just like a digital binder. I usually have three main sections for planning—Notes, Scenes, and Information. In my Notes section, I write like I’m writing a journal. This is basically me talking to myself about the story and writing out what I see for it. It’s amazing how this opens up my imagination and helps me figure things out. Whenever something just doesn’t add up or make sense, if I write out my thoughts about it, chances are, a solution will present itself. This is how the whole story really comes together. The more notes I take, the better.
In my Scenes section, I write down any bits of dialog or future scenes I have in mind so I don’t forget them. Never trust yourself to remember something. Write it down, especially if you have a scene very clearly playing out in your head. Then all these scenes are like puzzle pieces that I work in as the story goes along.
In Information I record all the little details I have to make sure are consistent throughout the story. Things like distances, hair colors, eye colors, heights, etc. There’s nothing more frustrating than having to look back through everything you’ve already written to see what color eyes you gave someone. Having all these facts in one place really helps and saves time. And don’t forget a story calendar! This is vitally important (at least for me). I always write down each major scene on a calendar to make sure things happen when they should.
When I have a story I know is my next project, I usually start writing the first draft within a day or two, but the development of it continues right along with writing. I’m constantly taking notes about future scenes or plot points. This approach may not work for everyone, but every writer is different. I work best with the creative freedom of no set outline. Others need the structure and “road map” to get their story where it needs to go. Finding the right approach for you is essential to productivity. No approach is right or wrong. Only find the best for you. After all, it’s your own personal individuality that makes your story unique.
Jaye L. Knight is a 25 year old independent author with a passion for writing Christian fantasy and clean NA fiction. Armed with an active imagination and love for adventure, Jaye weaves stories of truth, faith, and courage with the message that even in the deepest darkness, God’s love shines as a light to offer hope.
Jaye is a homeschool graduate and has been penning stories since the age of eight. She was previously published as Molly Evangeline.