When I started writing, I put words on the page until I reached the end. Horrified everyone. They found it inconceivable I could write without using an outline first. How can you not have a direction for your story? How can you not know what happens next? How can you not know how it will end?
Each part of the story rolls right into the next. For example, I’ve decided the main character is going into a tunnel to look for missing people. That rolls right into the thought that if the character goes down alone, the story’s probably not going to be very interesting. He needs someone to talk to. So I add a couple of characters. Now they’re in the tunnel. What can they find? That question led to the inciting incident.
Then an article in the newspaper catches my eye. I’m writing, and there’s this perfect spot for whatever inspiration the article gave me. Or I might pull up a memory of an event and use that. Even the end of a chapter can trigger a direction because I’m thinking, “What can happen?”
Sometimes I’ll get a much better idea mid-story, so I shift over to it to follow the new idea. For my last one, I hadn’t fully settled on the bad guy. So mid-story, he disappeared, and another one came in.
I also write scenes that sound cool, or because I need to show the backstory. It’s that MacGyver in me, picking up what I think I might need, and it won’t be until I reach the revision that it begins to settle. If I get stuck, I skip ahead to continue writing. But sometimes I’ll go back and revise, too, if the story’s off enough to annoy me.
How do you MacGyver the writing?