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From inspiration to concept: harassed by the muses!

How I organize my work | Creative process series overview

Though inspiration is not everything for a writer, it is something we do cherish and need, at least a bit to write our stories. For me, inspiration comes easy. I’ve got so many ideas already, stashed in my concept folder, and they are only growing in number.

Image of a binder with papers portraying graphs and flow charts with text underneath saying “Elisa Winther’s MY CREATIVE PROCESS, on how I write my books, from inspiration to finalized manuscripts.

Inspiration can come from many things. Beautiful scenery, a cool image on Pinterest, music heard by the soul, a deep conversation; there’s no shortage. An idea for a character, a setting, a bit of culture, a creature, it can be many things. I make sure to write it down as soon as possible because I’ll forget about it otherwise.

Feeding your muses

If you have a hard time getting inspired, some things that help is to leave the house. Between going out for a stroll and traveling the world, there’s a lot of small and big things you can do. Changing scenery can spark new ideas, meeting new people can help with developing characters, and experiencing other cultures can help you make your own (Writing With Color is a great resource for this btw). Go see new things. Experience life!

Aside from that, you can also always scroll through Pinterest or use Google to find you good imagery. Use writing prompts to get you started. There are many, many options.

Formulating the story concept

Because this part of my process comes pretty naturally to me, I tend to not give it too much thought as to the how and the why’s, so I’m not sure what to tell you. I’ll try though. Usually, I go with ideas and projects my mind wanders to on its own. Something I don’t have to force too much, and then I stick with it. I didn’t use to. I used to work on multiple projects before, but that just made it impossible for me to finish anything. Usually, after some time my interest would wane and then it’d just end up neglected, eventually shelved. Look at what’s happened to Salandrine. It’s been years.

So I go with one project at a time. I brainstorm to expand on what ideas I had, starting on formulating a concept. This is usually something very basic. Bare plot, summarized. The bare bones of a story through theme. One I have currently is refinding confidence and love of dancing during a masquerade party with a mysterious stranger.

I have a concept, what now?

Most of the project at this stage still happens mostly inside my mind though. Maybe I’ll one day make this a little more structured and figure out how to optimize this stage, but for now it seems to be enough.

At this stage I tend to have a feeling for what (sub)genre I want to write in. Although it often changes, it typically doesn’t disappear entirely, so for a paranormal romance, it’s normal for me to find it change into a dark fantasy with a romantic subplot/element (like for my used-to-be-but-now-isn’t cursed enemies to lovers WIP).

When I decide I’m going forward with a concept, I look at other concepts I have stored in my concepts folder to see if I can merge some. Then the next step is formulating its premise, expanding the premise to make a summary and then write the outline. (If I don’t skip parts due to impulsivity, that is).

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