Newton’s first law of motion can be written as the formula F=ma. It states that a body at rest tends to stay at rest unless acted on by an outside force.
I tend to apply this to my writing, as it does indeed apply. A new story takes much more time and effort to get started. But a world already written in can be added to without a lot of effort.
An idea by itself is “at rest” in your own imagination. To make that idea into a story that can be shared with others, requires building a world others can relate to. No one thinks exactly like you do or has your exact set of knowledge and experience. So in order to allow someone else to relate to your story as you see it in your minds eye, you have to build a world they can and want to exist in.
Building a world that doesn’t already exist is an art form all it’s own. I great writer will want to make it as close to reality as possible, what that reality is, all depends on the story being told.
A science fiction story could have a different set of physical laws, or delve into fuzzy science positing a “what if” to be discovered in the future. In that world things outside our reality could exist as commonplace.
A science fiction story could also be hard wired into our understanding of the physical limitations, and the world built would need to reflect that.
A fantasy story could contain any number of wondrous imaginings, or it could explore myths and show the wondrous realities they were based on.
Whatever story you tell, the world you build needs to reflect it. Building this world from scratch requires many moving parts. Setting each of these in motion can be simple or require great effort. It takes far more work to move a beach than it does a grain of sand.
The art form lies in breaking every beach down to it’s grains of sand, setting each into motion, then stepping back and seeing the beach again.
What I do is get into the characters skin, as if I were that person, or creature, or robot, animal, insect, whatever it is I’m writing about. I try and see the world through their perceptions of it.
Depending on the world I am building, perceptions will be different, so the character will change. No living thing stays the same, there is constant change, even if it’s just small adjustments. Sometimes a large change is needed to attempt to adapt to the environmental changes, whether they are physical, mental, spiritual, emotional, or external.
To know what a character will do, even a minor one, you need to know who they are first. Would you make a torturous pirate suddenly walk through a field of flowers skipping along holding hands? No, it’s not who they are. Or course you could do something like that in a satirical fashion, but that’s a different story entirely.
I love to read, even though I am a writer, I need my entertainment time as well. I can also be extremely accepting of writers as I give them a chance. One mistake will not make me set a book aside. Even a few mistakes, or method of writing I can discard if the story is good.
What I will not sit and read through is literary Swiss cheese. Put forth the effort to get your beach moving, each grain at a time, and you will catch your own holes. Writing is a job, and some of us greatly enjoy it. If its constant work to you, you are doing something wrong, or you aren’t meant to be a writer.
Once I started writing, I realized things about myself that had been considered unsavory to be a great benefit. Like an extremely active imagination, and a mind that can slip into day dreams as easily a hot knife into warm butter.
Writing for me is work and play time mixed together, I enjoy every bit of it, even the parts that give me the most trouble.
Want a more concise and knowledgeable version of this? Writing excuses had an episode nearly 2 years after this post, where they explored newton’s three laws.