Sunday, August 15, 2010

Part 1: The Birth of a Story Inception

Outlines work fine, if you already know the story. Which is precisely why they don't work for me; I approach my writing from the other end, preferring to create the story from the inside out. Writing those initial draft(s) to find out what the story's about is like walking when you're pregnant - it helps with the delivery. This fact I can attest to, having given birth 3 times.

In it's inception the story has the potential to go in any direction it chooses on the unwritten slate of my subconscious womb. Writing out everything initially coming to mind is part of the pairing process. This is where the DNA from my subconscious and the physical production of something concrete begins. The story begins to take form as I learn more about the characters and who they are. Their wants, desires and flaws emerge along with it's heartbeat; the core around which the story revolves, the problem, the stakes and the solution, allow for the pruning of earlier ideas and irrelevant details to begin. And this cell death results in the separation of fingers, toes and the formation of organs into distinct functioning parts.

It's at this point the outline starts to appear along with it's various layers, themes and story threads. Finally giving birth to a healthy piece of writing to be revised and polished - raised if you like.

About the photos: A sail boat in the straight between Vancouver and Vancouver Island taken from the ferry (top). My eldest son watching over the rail (bottom). Pictures taken in 2005.


  1. Hi Leonie,

    Thank you for sharing this. It's very similar to my approach to writing. I begin with a first sentence and see where the words take me, trusting in my subconscious to find the shape, whether it is a poem, a short story, a scene, or a chapter. After that, the work to revise begins. I am one of those writer who writes to see what will happen next. Another writer friend refers to this method as an organic, intuitive process.

    I love your photos!

  2. Thanks Annie,

    I've never heard a name given to this process before, that's kind of neat :) I love the term "organic," it fits well.

  3. I write to see what happens next a lot, too. I´m intrigued by the atmosphere of discovery. But there is more to it than the fun aspect. Forcing myself to nail down an outline too early in the process, can kill a whole project, or at least paralyse it for months. There always has to be something left open until the very end. Just like I myself always keep open questions about the theme explored in my text. My story has to stay alive, to grow in a natural way. If I trust it to develope its own pace, it does. It´s a living organism indeed!