1. Where do your story ideas start?
My story ideas start in different ways. They can start with a character who I want to write about, someone with particular problems. Or they can start with the problem and I have to find a character to fit the problem. Sometimes, it starts with an idea, a line I read or heard, a commercial…anything. I’ve learned to mine as much from life as possible. Stories are everywhere if we only let them in.
2. What do you write first? (beginning, middle, end)
Since I often let story ideas percolate for months or even years, it’s hard to answer this question. But, I can say that once I start writing I almost always write from beginning to end, even if I sketch a scene out in my head, I tend not to write it down and then use it completely. So, most often, I’d say start to finish.
3. Character development, do you do anything special?
Most of my novels are very character driven, so this is a great question for me. I have to live with a character for a while before I can write about them. During this time, I’m often thinking (as I go through my day), “What would my character think of that? What would my character do in this case? With this kind of play, I learn more and more about my character and why they are the way they are. Then when I start writing, I know my character fairly well. Now, with secondary characters and minor characters, I keep notes while I’m writing so that I don’t forget what I’ve created. This often comes with short back story pieces that kind-of explain an action or response.
4. Where do you do your writing?
I have a home office. It’s actually a potting shed that I had refinished. I have to go outside and into the house to use the bathroom or to eat lunch, etc. But, by having my office away from the house—it still faces the courtyard—it’s easier to be left alone to my work.
5. A story usually springs from an idea, a character or a scene. Once that idea is planted - how do you make it grow?
Similar to what I explained in the first question. I allow whatever the seed of the piece is to roam around in my head sometimes for years. As they roll around, they accumulate other pieces of the story, other characters, other events, etc. Once the seed has grown enough, I start writing.
6. Do you write in Chronological order or do you bounce around within the manuscript?
Chronological order. Start to finish, for the manuscript. This doesn’t mean that I don’t use flashback or short back story pieces, though. Only on rare occasions might I actually write something down, but I seldom use it word-for-word when I get to that section because the story has changed by then and the piece isn't a perfect fit. That’s why I try not to let that happen. I don’t want to get to that section and be so enamored over the piece I wrote ahead of time that it’s too precious to cut or change.
Thank you for the opportunity to answer your questions. I always enjoy it. ~Terry Persun