What started that June in the kitchen did not stop. I’m not sure what it was that set this project apart from others I had attempted, but despite having no final vision or driving story, I let my ideas wander in real time and slowly began to fill up a sketchbook with my original storyboards. One sketchbook wasn’t enough, so I filled a second one (and thus decided the story would be structured in two parts.) As for my writing process, some days I was very intentional about my narrative, and then some days I was completely aimless and often surprised by what I came up with. The results of those two markedly different approaches somehow twisted together to form a story, though not without its holes. Going forward, I had no idea how the story would end, and as I drew closer to the final pages I was very worried that I’d dug a hole I couldn’t get out of. The only guide I had was my characters, and many writers will tell you that characters can really get out of hand quickly.
At some point in the first twenty pages or so I attempted to give myself a parameter, or maybe it was more of a prompt. I decided to shoot for nine chapters, and loosely base each chapter on one of the fruits of the Spirit. That is, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Not that I wanted to write a Sunday School lesson, but rather that these virtues might be among the underlying themes of each chapter. However, this idea began to fall apart around chapter five (kindness) and eventually I felt I was fighting the natural progression of the story for the sake of one of my self-imposed parameters, so I let that idea go. Traces of the “fruit” may still be evident in the story (in fact, I hope it is) but subsequent editing may have chopped up and diluted that concept even more.
While this sketchbook process did set the groundwork for the story, much of it changed in rewrites. Still, I think it was an incredibly valuable part of writing, because it got me very familiar with my characters, and even the environment that they would inhabit. You don’t spend 9 months drawing someone and not come away better acquainted.