So, before THE SHADOW MILE, or TSM as I will refer to it from here on out due in part to laziness, before it was anything else, it was an image.
I don’t start with a plot (I’m not sure I admit that) or even the details of a character. When I wrote poetry all I started with was a line where the syllables sounded nice beside one another. Now with fiction, all I start with is an image. And TSM was just like that. Before my MC or her situation introduced itself, I saw a door. This is the original paragraph I wrote:
“It was no longer, by definition, a door. It did not presume to lead anywhere. Instead it leaned against its rotting frame, in the middle of the lot that might, at one time, have been a house. But it was no longer a house, and because of this, the door was no longer a door. Yet, since it had nothing to be besides a door, it sat still and did its best to look like one. And when the shadows saw this place they stopped their search and moved right in to the house that was no longer a house, and so the door at last was a door again, to the shadows if to no one else.”
Now, looking back on it, so much has changed, of course, but there’s something about being ABLE to look back, being able to see concretely the beginning of the story. I know exactly when TSM began, even if the image itself has changed, and the above paragraph doesn’t grace the book.
Having images as origins, in addition to the fact that I do NOT write in a linear way, means that actually having a story that makes sense for the whole book is tricky. And indeed, the earliest versions of TSM, the ones before any other eyes graced the pages (thankfully) make so little sense by the end that even I, the AUTHOR of those words, am a little lost.
I guess the moral I’ve learned so far: this is a PROCESS. In every way this about finding the story through some means, and then figuring out how you can get the story out of your head as painlessly as possible.