I not only walk the walk, I talk the talk, and I put my money where my blog is — is that enough clichés for you? What I’m trying is say is that after all of my blogging about marketing for the past two weeks, I’m going to start to show you about marketing, rather than tell you about it (sorry, I’m a writer!).
I’m really excited because my writing book, Chapter One, is going to be one of the featured books (EOTD: ebook of the day) on RG2E (Reader’s Guide to E-publishing; yes, they’re really into acronyms over there) TODAY (Monday — for those of you actually reading this right after I published it Sunday evening). This is going to be great because I’m finally going to get to see just what a little marketing can do for even a non-fiction book like mine. And I promise to share numbers with you next week! So, head on over, this is the link, and check it out. And I’m pretty sure they’re going to be giving away a free copy of Chapter One too!
Now, on to today’s blog topic. I wanted to chat about something that tied in with Chapter One, naturally, since it’s the book of the day. And what better topic than a writer’s process — namely mine (well, I can’t very well talk about other writers’ processes, can I?).
If you read Chapter One, something is going to pop out at you pretty quickly — I’m a plotter. I believe in thinking things out thoroughly before I ever start writing. It nearly always begins with character. If my original idea is for a plot line, I think about who would do such a thing; if it was a particular character, I’ll start there and develop that person and what their story might be. Since I write character-based books, even if I start with the plot idea, I quickly move into what sort of character would be involved in this story, who would drive it from the inciting event, straight on through to my HEA.
For example, with Magic In The Storm (just published, yay!), it started with the idea of the seventh child of the seventh child being the most powerful witch, well, what if that witch turned out to be a boy? And from there I developed Morgan’s story — character! In another book (which I really will finish writing, honestly!), I started with the idea of falling off a balcony — I’m always afraid I’m going to fall off balconies despite any railing. That’s a plot line. But immediately I thought about why someone would have that fear, what happened to them, and naturally from there, who are they? I came up with the idea of a woman in contemporary Washington, DC who in her previous life was thrown off the castle battlements and so in this life she is terrified of falling over edges and balconies. (The story goes back and forth from her current life and her previous one — it’s loads of fun!) But the idea started with a plot-line concept and went swiftly in character development.
So, I start Chapter One (the book) with characters. Delving into what sort of characters you’ve got and getting to know them better (complete with worksheets). We shift quickly into goal, motivation and conflict, which just furthers your knowledge of your characters and helps you shift into plotting. World building needs to come next because my story is going to take place in my world, whatever world that is — even if it’s the real, contemporary world, it’s the real world as my POV character envisions it (which could be very different from the way anyone else would). It’s my hero’s world and as such, I’ve got to know it and be able to describe it to my reader. I’ve got to know what can happen and what might happen, so that when it does, I’ll be ready.
And finally, I’ll graph out my story structure. Yes, graph! I’ve got a pad of graph paper sitting on my desk. I pull out a pencil and graph out the highs and lows, the climax, crisis and all the turning points of my story. As I do this, scenes pop into my brain. Sometimes they pop in complete, I know exactly what’s going to happen; sometimes they just come in as hazy ideas (something really important happens here which makes my hero do this really stupid thing). This is when I pull out my scene charts (you’ll find a copy in the book). I fill out as many of these as I can, and as much of them as I can, and as I say, sometimes it’s really sketchy.
Now, with all this fabulous information in front of my eyes, I’ve nearly written my first draft. Yes! I do consider this my first draft, especially if I’ve been successful in writing out a good number of scene charts. All I need to do now is write the book — and don’t I just wish it were as easy as that sounds.
It never is because characters change; they do what they want to do, and things happen so that I’m not always certain I’m the one in control. I end up having to rework my outline at least once. It’s all a work in progress, but at least now I’ve got a strong base from which to work. And when things go off differently than I expect them to, or, as is more common with me and my writing, I find that I’m half way through my plot and only 30,000 words into the story, I’ve got something to go back to to beef it up — add in that subplot, or build up another. And then back I go, into the trenches of writing and rewriting.
So, what’s your process? Where do you start? And how much do you do before you actually start writing?