In my life, lists are a crucial part of how I maintain order. I have yet to transition to fully digital planners so a physical notebook is still my go-to for shopping lists and agendas. This is the same with my writing. Sometimes a scene will begin the creative process. A character will encounter something and I write it out. That scene might get linked to other existing scenes, or inspire further creations which stem from it. Generally, I write a few chapters before truly beginning to outline what's occurred and what I foresee. Planning for me usually involves certain key events that take place, not so much a trajectory of character growth, although that works its way in as well.
Often times, I find that the way a character develops ties into the overarching idea of the story I'm crafting. I don't initially imagine an end-goal for the character as a state of mind: more as a culmination of all the events coming to a head. That culmination is what my characters ultimately have to find meaning in. The more I consider this, the more it seems like my personal style is one that favours a 'based on life' approach. People in real life must roll with whatever happens to them, a lot of which they have no control over. The decisions made during such circumstances shape our natures as we witness the consequences .
Writing is a strange beast. It combines the desire for control with empathy for people. I love all of my characters, yet I am not always nice to them. It's a strange state – an awareness that strife fosters growth and a wider understanding of the world, while encouraging sympathy in united experience. We've all faced hardship – will continue to face it – and stories enable us to explore the hardships of others. Sharing stories is about this learning, free of the danger/pain that comes from directly experiencing the challenge. Even fiction set in fantastical realms is tied to human experience and can, therefore, offer profound insight into our daily lives. How to tell hat story is up to the author, and clearly organising the thoughts that go into is crucial to effective storytelling.
Lists and their purpose are, perhaps not surprisingly, on my mind due to the approach of the holidays. How do you utilise them in your own life? If you write, how do you plan out a story and its characters? Do you, or is yours a process of pure spontaneity? Whatever your method or preferences, I want to wish you all a warm and happy December!