Megan is a 19-year-old writer who posts her stories and poems on fiction press. You can find them here: http://www.fictionpress.com/u/526555/VELVETxKISSES
When I start a novel or short story, I’m not usually around a computer. So I start writing out the scene on paper, but as soon as I can, I type it up in a Word Document for several reasons: One, if I just keep the paper copy, I will lose it. No doubt about it. Two, I can type faster (and more legibly) than I can write. My brain is going at such speeds trying to write down all the thoughts that are flying through and when I’m writing, my handwriting gets so illegible that it doesn’t matter that I’d wrote it down. Even when I type it up, my brain thinks sentences faster than I can type them, so I’ll have some sentences running together and sometimes I forget words.
I can write most anywhere, but a quiet place is preferred. If it’s not quiet, I make it quiet by putting on my noise-canceling headphones with no music bleeding out of them. I’ve been known to jot ideas down everywhere. Once I wrote it on the back of my hand at work, and I was called to the principal’s office (I worked at a daycare/preschool) and asked to wash it off. Another time, this was much more recently, while I was working at a gas station, I wrote a couple ideas for names that had been floating around up there on the back of a receipt that a customer didn’t want. So I can write ideas anywhere. When I had a laptop I could cart around upstairs and into the kitchen, I definitely did so. Nowadays I’m restricted to working on a desktop computer, which is (obviously) stationed at a desk.
Another quirky thing about me is that music is a huge inspiration in my writings. I’m currently working on a novel where all the chapters are different titles of songs that have to do with what goes on in the chapter. So, obviously, music is a big part of the writing process for me. However, I can’t listen to it while I’m writing. I start dazing out and focusing on the song more than what’s happening in the story. When I start the editing process though, I do like to listen to some music. When I wrote “Your Call”, I listened to the namesake, “Your Call” by Secondhand Serenade, as I edited. It helped to keep me in the mood and the feel of what was happening, and I actually cried; hearing the song and reading the words together.
So now that you know some of my preferences, I’ll tell you a bit about what actually goes into my writings. When I write a story, it’s often about a friend of mine and me. For instance, “Your Call” was written after my best friend told me he was going to sign up for the army. I twisted and exaggerated and morphed the goodbye scene with my best friend to a story that was related to the situation, but was so different that only my best friend and I could tell who it was about. (The second half of “Your Call” is completely fictional. He didn’t really die.) So story ideas come to me as I live my life, which is quite frustrating when I’m busy at work or out with friends.
Sometimes, however, I do get those “Oh man! What if…?” moments. I’m currently writing a short story that started with me looking at a cute pillow a friend had made for me. On it was a picture of Tinker Bell and in the top corner it said PETER PAN inside of a heart and arrow. One thing lead to another and now, five months later I’m starting on the last few chapters of “Peter Pan is Not my Home Boy”. So while most of my stories are started with real life scenarios or roll-play of real life scenarios, I do have those moments when an idea just smacks me across the face.
After I get an idea going, I work out how it’s going to end. Before, when I was younger and less serious about my writings, I sort of just sat down and wrote whatever came to mind. Those turned out to be horrible, unfinished messes. I think Kayleigh was even “privileged” enough to beta one or two of those for me. So now, I tend to over-work the idea, in a way. After the initial thought is jotted down, I take the main characters and create character charts for them. It’s long, but it’s fun and so worth it. That way, when I start a story and lose inspiration for it, I can reread the character chart and what’s already been written and I can pick it back up. Another thing that helps me pick up a story after I’ve lost inspiration for a couple weeks is to create a chapter outline. I’ve only done that with one novel, one I’ve been working on for quite some time now. But it has helped a lot. There are times when I just want to sit down and immerse myself into my make-believe worlds and to get me back into my make-believe world, my chapter outline really helps. In the one I’m referring to, I took a chapter, wrote a basic summary of what I wanted to happen in that chapter, found a title and moved on to the next one. In “Peter Pan is Not my Home Boy” (from now on referred to as PPNHB) I didn’t do such a strict outline, which I think has helped me immensely. To keep my mind on track I simply jotted down “Early March-Shad’s bday party” under the story itself. It helps me to remember what I want to happen while also leaving room for imagination and a little leeway for interpretation. I think I like that way better because I’m not worn out on PPNHB like I am with the other story.
Once the chapter outline and character charts are finished, I start to work on the story. So far, I’ve never finished a novel. I only started organizing my thoughts just recently though, and that’s helped so much more than I can say. When I started the first draft for PPNHB in February 2010, I didn’t think it would progress farther than a one-shot. Now that it has, I’ve projected my finishing the first draft October of this year. Usually, I write poetry or one-shots. When writing a one-shot, I tend to be a little more lax with the organizational process, because it’s never longer than ten pages. “Your Call” is a one-shot and the first draft for that took me just a few hours. Also, I tend to not edit my things. I think that the first draft, all that’s raw, stripped and bare, is always the best. And if I do see edits that need to be made, I copy the whole segment into a separate document so I can edit and compare. Simple things like spelling errors or missing punctuation I fix in the first draft, but words that are used inappropriately or are poorly placed, I fix in the second draft.
As I’m writing I’ve learned that, for me, it’s best to write in order. It’s a really odd phenomenon that probably isn’t the best thing, but as I’m writing, my characters seem to grow and develop themselves. With the one novel I’m working on, “Flown Away”, the main female character, Aliss, progressed from a vicious-insult-spitter, to a softened-thoughtful-debater and finally to the loving-doting-girl-friend. It was part of the plot for her to fall for E.J, but when I had started the writing process I hadn’t meant for Aliss to change so drastically. Seeing this change, I’ve learned that if I were to start the novel, skip forward ten chapters and continue writing, then go back and add in those ten chapters later, my character would seem really flaky and unstable. Whereas when I write in order, the progression is smooth and makes sense with the plot line.
You might not be able to tell that I love to write in the fantasy/supernatural/paranormal genre if you read the short stories, one-shots or novels I’ve written. PPNHB is probably the only fantasy story I will ever finish. All my short stories and one-shots are usually romantic-tragedy, or friendship-tragedy. Because I have a tragic mind and it just seems that all my stories have sad endings. Sometimes the main character learns through the hardships, but the endings are usually sad. Even in the novel I’m working on now, the first installment of the series ends on a sad note. So tragedy is usually my forte, I’m sort of embarrassed to say.