This question was posed to me last night and the rather lazy answer I gave was that I envisage a character or two and build a world around them. For others who write (and indeed those who don’t), you know it isn’t that simple.
To expand on the above, and to use the example of ‘Inevitabilis’, I started with a man stood in his living room, lights off and with the curtains mainly drawn. I asked myself, Who is he? How old is he? Why are the lights off? Does he have family? Does he have a girlfriend? Is he afraid? If so, of what? Or of anybody? And the story developed from there. And once I get a basic idea or outline, I try to stick to it, as well as keeping the ending the same as originally intended for concentration purposes. And the ending is worked out pretty quickly. This doesn’t always occur, as I have recently revisited a story synopsis I did 5 years ago with the intention of actually writing it fully and altering aspects to condense it into a series of shorts. There is a significant twist I placed at the end to ‘open end’ the story, but I decided to place it near the beginning and it fundamentally changed the story.
I like the idea of peeling back layers in not just my characters, but in the world they inhabit and the journeys they undertake. Matt has gone, in the 3 parts so far, from being a scared and educated man with an invested ‘friend’ to an educated man with an invested ‘friend’ who has been running and hiding from his ‘brother’ and there is more to come.
And invariably, the secrets reveal a dark world with a darkness of character and a sense of ‘reckoning’, where even the good can be caught in the crossfire. I think the closest genre I can think of is ‘Neo-Noir’. And I enjoy writing it. A ‘comfort zone’, if you will. I’ll explain.
I once asked my friend to suggest a kind of story to write, and he suggested something uplifting with a positive message. I wracked my brain to come up with something with an obvious challenge and a happy ending. Whether it was writer’s block or not, I’m still struggling to come up with one. That may change going forward as I take myself out of my literary ‘comfort zone’.
Wish me luck…