How do you write?
I get this question fairly often.
I'm always tempted to reply with crappy grammar and woeful comma use, but generally I resist.
I am at my best when I write the original draft longhand with pen in a notebook. Then I edit as I type sometimes later the same day and sometimes a week or so later. Sometimes I type beyond what I hand wrote and I keep going but in truth that blinking cursor always taunts me and seems to constrict free thought.
As far as how I build a story and characters I begin with a what if. Usually a what if for a single character. For TWISTED ROADS it was ... What if you realized you'd spent your whole life loving the wrong person?
I knew a guy that had done that very thing and frankly it destroyed him though I don't know that he sees it that way to this day. I wanted my character to find some redemption beyond his misguided love but of course it's never easy to admit you've spent a lifetime lying to yourself.
So I start with that what if, but to make a story and the character come alive I have to know all the characters inside and out. To do that I write back story for every character. One or two pages for minor characters. maybe as much as a dozen for point of view or major characters.
These are not complete stories but vignettes of emotionally charged events from their early childhood on up to when the story starts. Once I know how they will react to being mad, sad, happy, horny ... they are pretty easy to write in most situations.
Building secondary plots and having all them them relate in some small way is a challenge for me. I tend to be a character driven writer and my plots can get lost because of that. Editors often want me to be less subtle and more flamboyant and direct. I have to work to add the necessary layers and emphasis.
Sometimes they mean not how do I write, but how do I find the time to write with a family and job? I steal it here and ther and in bits. This adds to why I hand write. I can't always sneak off to the computer though I try to get some time in at the computer every night when the kids have gone to bed.
There it is. How I write.