A fiction writer needs to have a unique, entertaining tale to spin where readers become enmeshed in the world they create, and not bored with an all too predictable plot and uninspiring characters. If you can convince your readers to laugh and cry along with your protagonist’s misadventures you have a successful novel.
Writing books is a different exercise for every author. Each of us develop our own unique process. With five science fiction novels now on the market, I’m still evolving my methods.
What I want to talk about here is scene development. Not from the technical perspective but from setting the mood for the writer so the he or she can make it come alive
The first drafts of my manuscripts are generally plot driven. The story is there but the characters (especially the new ones) tend to be lifeless, stick figures. It is in my second draft where my characters develop depth and breath. When I settle in at my computer to work on revising a chapter, the first thing I do is close myself off from the real world in my office. I then tune in my mood music. For me, its “Two Steps from Hell” on Pandora. For those of you unfamiliar with that station, it tends to be “heavy” instrumentals from movies.
Generally, it’ll be three or four hours before I come up for air, limiting myself to focusing on a single chapter. In my case, rewriting more in one sitting becomes stale. I then rejoin the real world.
I’m a jogger. I used to run marathons (respectable 3 hour times), but my knees did not think that was a great idea. So now I jog. When I run in the morning, my characters travel with me and tell me everything that was wrong with their role in the scenes I worked on the previous day. I even had one character, who was intended to be a throw-away name, who forced me to make him a major player in my novel.
When I get home and complete my morning libations, I pour a cup of coffee and march to my office. There I dutifully make the changes those people (and other creatures) in my head insist I got wrong the previous day. Then its on to the next chapter. In my case, the finished novel will often be 50% longer than my first draft.
I doubt my exact process will work for everyone, but it gets my creative juices flowing. The salient point is that a fiction writer must become emmeshed in their story and a captive to their characters. Whatever gets you into that world, is the path you should follow.