Today I welcome the wonderful Kiana Harris onto my blog, who is discusses Creative Processes. Enjoy 🙂
“Our Lives Are One Masked Ball”: The Origins of Inspiration and the Creative Process are as Diverse as a Masquerade
One the most interesting aspects about being a writer is no two ideas occur the exact way twice, even within the same person.
No quote captures this concept better from this line from Gaston Leroux’s The Phantom of the Opera—and not just because one of my manuscripts was inspired while reading Phantom and masks make it into most of my works.
Like masks, ideas for any piece of writing come in a myriad of shapes, sizes, and can be crafted anywhere.
You never know who—or in this case, what—is hiding beneath a mask. Sci-fi? Fantasy? Mystery? YA? MG? Adult? You can’t tell until, and that’s why it’s exciting when an idea reveals itself.
In all honesty, I shake my head at the different roots of my stories. A few examples:
- While playing Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds.
- A Tumblr post.
- My structural geology lecture!
Listing every origin would compose the rest of this article, but I think you understand my point. Ideas are like masks, all unique and of different materials and background.
The creative process is just as varied. Because of this, WIPs need to be cared for and developed separately, resulting in a distinctive creative process each time.
As such, I’ll discuss some of the methods I’ve used in developing my varying WIPs. I’ll use four of my YA WIPs: Clock fantasy (referred to as CW), dinosaur sci-fi (henceforth NOI), Phantom-inspired fantasy romance (abbreviated MOTN), and angel fantasy (referenced as WA).
The Creative Process:
In CW, it all began with a map of my fantasy land and naming every noteworthy place. Until I had all locations named and figured out (along with their myths), CW couldn’t start.
Then, with this particular novel, Clocktowers play significant characters, so I researched time deities in our world and named the Clocktowers accordingly.
Aside from my MC and her best friend, though, every other character name came afterward, usually when the character first appeared.
Once this was done, I had to figure out how I was going to tell this story, since it had changed somewhat drastically from its original premise of being a series of short stories only involving my MC as caretaker of the Clocktowers.
It needed to be told from her POV, but how was I to explain the why of the Clocktowers breaking without excess information when she finally discovered the reasons and has few interactions with my villains?
The answer was sporadic chapters from a third-person POV with my antagonists; by doing this, the reader can understand my villains and why events are happening and helps moves forward this story I’m ecstatic finally clicked.
With NOI, everything began with characters and events. Because this particular novel stemmed from a remembered dream which came from watching a clip of the 1960s Mysterious Island, I wanted it to be a retelling (because who doesn’t love dinosaurs?).
With wanting to do a retelling, my villain needed to be Nemo. Memories of my high school Latin class resurfaced, reminding me how “Nemo” means “no one”. Just like that, I descended the Latin rabbit hole for naming characters and titling this planned four-book series.
However, NOI didn’t click and truly come together until backstory events were named and developed.
After the words “worldwide quarterly census” and “Andromeda debacle” trickled into my creative process, all of NOI (mostly) fit together for how to blend both prehistoric beasts and alien fauna into a near-ish future and has become much more than a Jules Verne retelling that’s dear to my writer’s heart.
With MOTN, everything hinged on my two MCs’ relationship. But following this, my Phantom-inspired WIP didn’t come together until I had the plot and series of events fleshed out.
For reasons I no longer remember, I experimented with my poetry assignment at the time. This different creative process allowed me to explore my characters’ personalities and conflicts they face both internally and externally in a (somewhat) condensed space.
Then I couldn’t begin writing until I figured my characters’ names. In the poem, I never mentioned names (probably because I hadn’t decided them yet). Every character needed a certain ring to their full name which fit their personality.
My female MC needed a delicate and gentle-sounding name, while also needing to fit her nickname. However, my male MC needed something elegant yet rouge-ish. Once those were pinned and perfect, I was able to truly start this WIP that never fails to enchant me.
This WIP was a little trickier, because the way I plan to tell it is through two revolution storylines, eighteen years apart, with vastly different outcomes.
When I first began crafting WA, I focused on creating two completely separate casts: the main one told through first person present POV and the secondary told in third person past POV.
Because these two casts follow two time periods, I also had to take into account how the present revolution differs from the past. As such, the names had to correspond with these dissimilarities.
Once these cast lists were set, I needed to decide what else was to be included besides angels, such as the monsters of the world.
Admittedly, I’m still figuring out the finer details, but I can’t wait to dive into this strange fantasy that originated during my structural geology lecture!
I hope my four examples illustrate the purpose of this article. Every writer has a distinct creative process, yet between projects, the methods of crafting are never quite identical. Inspiration can be found anywhere, stem from unexpected places.
If you’re a writer feeling uncertain about your writing process and ideas because they aren’t like your other writer friends or your favorite authors, I hope this article alleviates those worries. The creative process and ideas are as diverse as there are storylines and writers.
You never know what you’ll find beneath every unique mask throughout your own masked ball called life.
Growing up an only child on California’s beautiful Central Coast, Kiana was never afraid to try new things—in school, sports, anime, food, or (mis)adventures.
Which is why she decided to be insane and travel to Pennsylvania for college.
She obtained a B.S. in Geology from Mercyhurst University, where she graduated with minors in creative writing and math, Magna Cum Laude, and an Honors Scholar.
Currently she lives at home, dividing her time between crafting her numerous WIPs, trying to get two puppies to get along with eight cats and a horse, and haunting her favorite coffee shops.
(current YA fantasy WIP)
There’s magic in these old clocks.
Seventeen-year-old clockmaker apprentice Klyne’s only dreams are to become a master clockmaker, like her late grandfather, and continue making puns.
So when the seven inaccessible Clocktowers of Osaria suddenly break, stopping the wind, currents, and sun’s path, Klyne is determined to enter the Clocktowers and repair them.
What she doesn’t expect is stumbling upon a corpse, mechanical clock creatures, or the knowledge the Clocktowers are each sentient.
After repairing the grudging Chronos Tower and learning of the Clocktowers’ magical origins, Osaria’s forgotten curse, and the Clockmaster apprentice, Arden, and Dark Tower, Izanami’s, roles in stopping Nature’s flow, Klyne is appointed temporary Clockmaster by the Queen.
Determined, Klyne sets out to retrieve the Clocktowers’ hidden artifacts, repair the remaining Towers, and stop Arden’s sabotages in order to start the flow of Nature before Osaria’s curse destroys everyone and everything she cares about.
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Big thanks to Kiana for being today’s guest poster and sharing her advice on creative processes. Please check out her links and if you have any questions, please leave them in the comment section below.