Concentric Circles

I’ve been a terribly unproductive girl today.  Well not on everything.  I had a class this morning that was an Introduction to Adobe Flash.  That was interesting.  Beyond that, my sum total accomplishment for the day is to get my cooking blog moved from Today.com (where I got sick of all the ads and the inability to edit posts later if I wanted to add a picture or fix a typo) back to WordPress.  I’ve finished resizing pictures, correcting links to myself, and picking out a new theme.  It’s nice, clean and simple.  Check out the new Pots and Plots if you’re so inclined.  Eventually I’m going to start a weekly serial story on there with my food loving heroine Lorelei McIllhenney.  But that’s on down the line.

I’ve got an earache and I’m horribly stuffy, neither of which lends to brilliant thoughts on craft or even productive thoughts on the nice list of pack questions Pot asked me last night.  But I have been thinking a bit about this new process I’m trying out with my present WIP.  I started with characters.  A hero and a heroine.  And I did some work to figure out what got them in the same location, what was going to pull them together.  Once I created the circumstance, then I started Water amplifieradding people, fleshing out the location.  It feels almost like a series of concentric circles with the characters in the middle.  Gradually I come out and out and expand the concept so that the characters have friends and enemies, circumstances, settings.  Every extra layer tells me something more about who they are and what their story is.  And I guess that’s sort of how I’m approaching this book as the first in a series.  I’ve created this vehicle that allows me to focus not only on these specific characters, but on one particular race in a much broader paranormal world.  At least one of these characters knows nothing of the world she gets thrown into, so I have a means of explaining things that isn’t straight backstory or infodump.  As each story gets written, I’ll keep expanding.  More and more layers, more of those concentric circles.  Kind of like tree rings I guess.  Or ripples in water.  I’m pretty pleased with how this is shaking out in terms of how the detail keeps coming and getting richer and more interesting.

I’m curious if any of you go the other way?  Do you start with broad strokes of worldbuilding and narrow your focus down to particular characters?  How does that work for you?  Do you think that you get a very different feel, a different story from tackling it at the other end?

I personally find it more manageable to start with the small and work out.  It feels very overwhelming to me to have all those possibilities out there, all those things to decide.   That’s one of the things I really enjoy about doing these character interviews that Pot and I’ve been doing lately.  We’ve always done a lot of “what if?” or “what happens next?” or what have you.  But this way…setting up a situation and then interviewing our characters about it often results in surprising insights.  For example, I wrote out a list yesterday of scenes in which the entire pack will feature.  It was literally about 6 lines.  That was it. Pot came back with a whole bunch of questions about each that helps me narrow down what to focus on and what I can think about (when my brain isn’t clouded with a Sudafed haze), and somehow that makes it feel more manageable to me.

Now if only I could find time for  a nap.

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