How do you turn an idea into a novel?

I often wonder about how other authors write. Am I doing it wrong?
For me, inspiration usually comes from visual cues. Like a candy necklace hanging in a tree or a website about the Diefenbunker Museum. I see something and suddenly, I have a scene in my head. I may not know who the characters are or how they got to where they are, but I know that that scene has to exist. I jot down the idea and let it simmer for a little while – especially if I’m in the middle of writing something else.
I’m not a plotter. I don’t sit down and come up with all my characters and outline what they’re going to be. Generally, I have a vague notion about the broad strokes of the story and who my main character is going to be – I know her name. As I write, I create character/location lists so I can keep everything straight. But otherwise, I just sit and write and the story creates itself. I refer to my style of writing as ‘ghost writing’ – not writing under someone else’s name, but the paranormal kind where you just scribble a pen across the page until you start to channel a spirit. ‘Kay , that makes me sound a crazy person. I do not believe that I am possessed by a spirit while I’m writing. What I’m doing is just letting the writing flow. Characters appear to me as I need them. Events happen as the characters develop. When I hit a roadblock, I actually do the thing with the pen. I just scribble until words start to form. Sounds wackadoo, but it works for me. Eventually, I get to the scene that sparked the story and that’s usually when the ending comes to me. Needless to say, I’m a linear writer. No hopping around for me.
This style leads to some plot inconsistencies, but that’s what the editing process is for. For me, writing a story isn’t that dissimilar from reading a story. I discover it as I’m moving through it. Do you write? What’s your process?


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