A day late due to schedule juggling this week; I was working yesterday, and while it was an enjoyable day, it was a hectic one spent running interminably back and forth to the ovens (pies, cookies, cheesecake!).
Thought I would talk today about my ritual for starting stories and novels; not the choosing or conceptualizing, but the very first step in the writing, before those first words hit the screen like a bellyflopping diver.
(It occurs to me I do have to specify screen. I do all my writing on the computer, and am boggled by people who not only can, but prefer to write longhand. Admittedly that handwriting is both physically painful and awkward for me, quite apart from the whole left-handed, "Oh, hey, did I just smear everything I'm writing?" problem.)
So the first step is choosing a font. For me, stories have a particular feel to them; I might not be able to put words to what that feel is, but it's there. So do fonts. Here's an easy example: Comic Sans gets a lot of flack for being not particularly professional or serious, so it's a nice choice for a humorous story. Another criteria for fonts is that they need to be legible, but not too big or small, when Word is blown up to 150%. So I typically will write in 9 or 10 pt, but some fonts don't look good at that size.
Why do I blow up Word? ... let me rephrase that.
I've been increasing the zoom on Word since I got a larger monitor and 100% no longer filled the whole screen. It's one of those "feel" things: I hate a lot of white space around the text. It makes me feel detached from the story. It's also why I can't write in double spacing.
For shorts, I also like to futz around with picking a kooky, dramatic, whatever font for the title, though that doesn't have any serious bearing on anything.
Oh, the last, crucial thing: I need a title. Yes, for a writerly reason: I find that if I don't have a title before I start, it becomes exponentially harder to come up with one. Most of my post-writing retitles (I've had a few requests, once because the magazine had published a story by that same title in the previous issue), I've been pretty dissatisfied with.
Buuut ... also for a practical reason: file needs a title. Not that I haven't gotten around this: I have a worldbuilding file entitled ArbitraryWorldNameHere. And "She's Unable To Lunch Today" just has the filename of "Lunch." (As a culinary type, this confuses me sometimes. It may not have been the smartest choice.)
And then ... the opening line.