Notes on the process of writing

In a writing forum I joined someone asked what kind writing process we used. I had to think about it for awhile before I could answer and by the time I did work out my process that thread of conversation had kind of petered out.

It was interesting exploring the process I used, because it’s not something I think about often. I just write and develop the story based upon my experience.

Here’s how it happens for me:

1. The idea.

Inspiration strikes. A duck waddles across the road, I read a great quote, someone strikes up an interesting subject; whatever the source, my brain has seized upon it and I wanted to explore it more.

2. Pre-writing/free writing

This is the idea developing into something…else. I may use that idea to develop a quick short story, or it may become something larger. If I delve into it and it feels I can do more with it…

3. Character development ensues.

Finding out which archetypes my character works best with helps. Sometimes characters do not seem to fit any particular archetype. I like to think of a character as unique, but archetypes are good reference tools. I use them regularly, even if just for patterning of my character.

4. Plot development.

Most plots flow from character development, but I find it’s useful to check Joseph Campbell’s monomyth. If I know there are some things missing from my plot or I’m struggling with the story line, the structure of the monomyth helps.

I don’t always follow it, because sometimes the story will flow on its own, but I’ve noticed that after about ten thousand words, my story begins to lose momentum. That’s where the monomyth comes in.

It allows me to develop the plot more fully and once I have the plot points marked I develop each section according to the action of the plot.

I know there are some writers who do not like using a plot, or a patterned structure. Others swear by it. I think each of us has a way of approaching a story that works (or doesn’t).

There is not much "original" in the world of ideas. We repeat the same story and it takes different forms. We are narrators of life and though it may be in a new form it is the human story, which does not have much variance. We are born, thus our story begins. We journey and we face trials and adventures. Then we return home to settle down and tell our stories to the next generation.

Whatever happens next is up to the storyteller.

The following is an example of basic plot development. I keep three notepad documents open on the desktop while I’m working and the first (that I’m posting) is the plot points I need to develop further.


Plot Points/Notes

Mr. Two who are you?  Odysseus.

finding that humans define one another initially by the masks they wear. Skin. Employment. social status. First impressions, though shallow, imply significance.

Two, a black man, technologically and mentally superior to most humans moves into human society learns a bit about how social structure works and finds himself caught up helping people from Mexico cross the border illegally.

Though in his mind he has detoured from his mission, in fact, he has fulfilled it through his interactions with the people around him.

12 ships in the odyssey/12 time keepers

Storm 1 – the changes taking place within the TK organization.

Storm 2 – when he believe he is finished and gets to go home, he finds that Polyphemus/Bravo is an agent of the TK organization.

3. Meets Bravo. Large, one-eyed assassin from Time Keeper organization.

He is "blinded" by his hatred of Two after their initial meeting and attempts to thwart TK plans.

4. Storm 2 – Two thinks his mission is complete and he gets to go home when something changes. He finds out that Bravo works for the TK organization.

5. Cannibals represent predators. People who prey upon others. Thieves, con men, drug dealers.

Two learns about coyotes and other smugglers and some of the things they do to immigrants. Why migrants risk the dangers involved…

6. On an island, odysseus’ men ignored the warnings of Tiresias and Circe and hunted down the sacred cattle of the god Helios. This sacrilege was punished by a shipwreck in which all but Odysseus drowned.

(sacred cow) – something/someone immune to criticism.
Shipwreck – represented by foiled plans.

Two and other TKs want to find out the truth about the TK organization. What is going on, why Bravo has been allowed to intimidate others, what their purpose is at this point and who is keeping the regular schedule going?

Their questioning is interpreted as criticism and when they all finally meet, Bravo and other men end up killing most of the TKs. Two kills Bravo and while Four is dying tells Two the truth…

7. Two sees that a world without time keepers is a world that will continue to progress; despite twelve’s warnings.



notes on plot development

The following is from the actual “Notes” notepad document. In it, I get more in depth in development. I make notes about everything, writing out questions about characters, etc.

Two = Tomas
One = Amerigo

Corrections needed

1. Introducing Two, need to know what he looks like.

2. Establish a setting in the TK work area/the area Two works and lives in.

3. He is not a static character. Speech should change throughout the story. From more formal speech patterns to more casual style of speech. Introduce slang.

4. Describe One physically.

note: think about the time keeper organization attempting some kind of global unification project. A one language, one monetary type civilization.
Questions that bother Two:

where is "home"?

In part three—

they met bravo. Four explained. they found out about the council (directors). through Four’s explanation they found out their mission was fraudulous. the council really wanted to understand more about human endeavor and how civilization worked. –Four says because they want to know if TKs are still viable.  –Two should suspect a more sinister purpose.

why would they need to know how civilization worked? Haven’t they been watching it through the TKs all this time? What’s missing here?

In part four— The question of humaness, humanity, the quality of being humane, motivated with the concern of alleviating human suffering.

Two attempts to continue with a mission he now knows is fraudulent, while at the same time these questions plague him. "Is he human?" "What is his place in the world?"

Also, larger question, "what is the point of the TK organization really?" This nags at him. He suspects they do not have all the information…

He’s helping Pete and Mary get people out of Mexico and finds out more about the drug cartels, the coyotes/smugglers (cannibals) and things they do to some migrants. Why migrants risk the dangers.

[the drug cartels have begun manufacturing and smuggling Serenity]

Throughout this, Bravo is a spectre. He is haunting One and Two and shows up at inopportune times.

One begins to exhibit stranger behaviors. He’s resentful, rebellious, lacking discipline and restraint. He becomes obsessed with the idea of finding out where they are made and how. He’s also convinced that the TK organization has always been a ruse for something much different. His aim is to find out what it is.

He steals the communication device from Two.

In part five——- The Sacred Cow

One finds other Time Keepers and convinces them to get together. They begin planning a Time Keeper meeting.

Two finds out that One has been working secretly against the organization to 1. find out what the organization is really doing. 2. to find a way to escape the organization and disable the tracking device in their heads.

This information comes through Four, who also says that if he knows this information, more than likely Bravo also knows it. Which means, One is in trouble. He’ll either be killed by Bravo or taken in as obsolete and ended.

This is what causes Two to want to contact other TKs. To save One, he believes if all TKs get together and talk to the council, they will see reason. TKs have demands they want met. 1. they want their freedom and the devices out of their heads. 2. they want answers to their beginnings and purpose.

They (One, Two, Four) get other TKs together, begin discussing their concerns and demands.

Bravo (and others) enter here and kill all TKs except for Two. Two kills Bravo.


perhaps One doesn’t feel like his life is worth anything. He is a TK and subject to disposal at any time. On the word of someone in higher authority.??

The law of duality

The law of survival

The necessity of the weaker to prove they are always right.
Generally through some form of manipulation.

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2 thoughts on “Notes on the process of writing

  1. It’s interesting to see how the writing process of others is different and also the same. I am a big believer in Joseph Campbell as well. It’s a great paradigm for understanding not only stories but life as well. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and processes.

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