Thursday, June 19, 2008


There is a new poll up on the right, because I'd like to know from what basis most writers begin their stories. Do you start with a plot? A character? A sentence that floats into your brain? This highly scientific poll* will reveal the trend once and for all. (For the record, I tried to change the font color of the options, but Blogger lets you personalize everything but that, it seems. Apologies! You can highlight the text for easier reading.)

* Not.


  1. I haven't written too much fiction (a few short stories actually) but they usually begin with a theme. Once or twice a great sentence paves way for everything else but that's just really rare. It's an interesting poll.

  2. Three novels, and all have started with something different. #1 started with a time period I wanted to write about. #2 with a plot idea. And #3 with a character. Short stories have started with a word, a theme, a character, a time, a sentence, an image, a premise, a plot idea--basically, I guess I never know how something is going to hit me.

    I'm afraid I can't help much with the highly scientific poll.

  3. great poll! altho i did nave a small inkling of the plot, it was my heroine (and hero) who drew me to writing my first novel.

  4. I usually start with either a plot element or a character, but the two come very close together. If I start with a plot twist, I almost immediately come up with a character to go with it, and vice versa. Once I have those two elements, I then try to develop a unique voice for the character given the situation presented by the plot.

  5. Character. I always start with character.

  6. Landscape is huge for me. If I can taste it, smell it, and squint at it, then a story can unfold.

    My new manuscript, however, started with an object, grew to a dozen objects, and from there the plot was born.

  7. About the Patty Smyth song...Is this it?

  8. Ok, it didn't take the whole link, so I split it up.

  9. My Silverlady story started I heard "Frozen" by Madonna and then I got all these cool images of snow and wind and black trees.

    The Symphonians grew out of a couple of short stories I wrote, to which I added a posse of characters I've been carrying around since high school.

    I'm not sure what on earth possessed me to write about Dante. I think it was the devil.

    The way I work is not very flashy, but it's all I've got.

  10. I hope it's okay to post this question here. It doesn't have anything to do with the subject, but I'm not sure where else to ask it.
    I was wondering about your response time. I sent in a picture book manuscript that was rejected (quick quickly, I might add) but that had a note saying you'd like to see it again if I revised it. I sent back the revisions and it's taking longer this time, a good sign I hope.
    I was just wondering what your response time was for picture book manuscripts. I found where you listed your response time for full novels, but was wondering if picture books were different.
    (I have had a few problems with the mail before, so I don't quite trust it.)
    Anyway, thanks for your time! I enjoy reading your blog!

  11. Out of three past novel manuscripts, two were begun based on plot premise and one was NaNoWriMo, what can I say?

    Usually it's a combination of an interesting situation and a voice that won't shut up. My current project was inspired by a very vivid dream (how Twilight-like) but of course, the protagonist was me in that case... and that would have been weird to write about... so then a different character came into play.

  12. My current WIP came from local headlines and inside info from deputy hubby. It's not 'write what I know', but what I can wrangle from the sheriff's office. *insert evil laugh*

    I had to laugh about the soda vs pop thing, Cheryl. Down here it's all Coke. You just have to specify which kind.

    WandaV in AL

  13. I voted "plot premise" but I agree wholeheartedly with Sid Fleischman, who says you need not one but two ideas to make a plot. So technically I start with 2 plot ideas smushed together.

  14. I usually get my ideas by visioning a character. I could be driving home one day and listening to Alternative/Rock and get an idea. My mind tends to take off without notice. I read the blog by Laini Taylor, very inspirational, thanks for that one. I've added the blog to my query.

  15. The Alphabet Game is addicting.

    I'm at 3.96 seconds, for the moment.

  16. marsha sisolakJune 21, 2008 4:54 PM

    Most of my fiction begins with an image. I then must find a character to deal with whatever the image is before I can write. Less frequently a character will appear, demanding a story. Or rarely, but strangely enough for my last two shorts, a plot premise arrives.

    So while there's no single item that precipitates a story for me, I have a few defaults.