The seven stages of writing are generating an idea, world building, character development, plotting, writing, revising, and publishing. That assumes that you plan to publish of course. These stages are actually processes.
Before you can write anything, you have to have some idea what you are going to write about, fiction or blog or even nonfiction, you will need to brainstorm ideas for topics. For fiction the story is a topic. For my book Accidental Colony, this process yielded this: A group of scientists become stranded on a planet four light-years from Earth and must learn to survive. That is the one sentence premise of the novel.
Creating a one sentence summary of your story is a good idea. It gives you a clear idea of what the story is about. Of course you need to expand on that one sentence, but it is a good place to start. To get that one sentence, I played the what if game. What if scientists went to another planet to study it. What if something happened and they became stranded? So brainstorming is the first stage of writing.
After that, you have to build the world, in the case of Accidental Colony I literally had to create the world. World building is not just for science fiction and fantasy. No matter what kind of story you are telling, you have to create the world in which the action takes place. Otherwise, you would have characters floating around in a vacuum, which would not make a good story. For one thing, humans cannot live in a vacuum. You will have to give them a place where there is air. If your story is set on earth, you can use the world around you and just create a town. Or you can set your story in a well known city and create a street in that city. The point here is that you are creating a space where your story will take place.
Once you do that, or before you create your space – there’s no hard fast rule of order here, except for starting with an idea, you need to create the people who occupy that space. This can range from a sixteen-page character development chart, to one or two paragraphs on the character. I will say that the more details you have for a character, the more real they become. I usually range from five pages of details about the main characters to a simple one-page character sketch. I usually try to have something on all of my characters.
So those are the first three stages of character development, brainstorming, world building, and character development. As I said after you get your idea for your story, you can develop your characters and build your world, or you can build your world first and then develop your characters. There’s no hard rule, but it is a good idea to do these three things before you move on to the next stages. Next week, I will discuss the fourth and fifth stages of writing.
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