Are you counting? It is Week # 5 and this Wednesday’s ‘How do you Write?’ gets the pleasure of visiting with Best-Selling Author:
Writing: From Mess to Process
As an author, I started out “pantsing” my way into fiction and I’m sure it had a lot to do with my crime-beat reporter days writing “breaking news.” The formula in the newsroom was: Get the correct information and write it as fast as you can.
Over the years and eight published books later, I’ve morphed into a planster – a pantser with a plan. I blast out the first twelve to twenty pages because once a story idea hits me, as it did for An Improper Proposal, I have to get it out of my head as quickly as possible.
It’s messy. Ugly even. Doesn’t matter. I can see it and move things around and tighten and re-work. I can’t do any of that with a blank computer screen.
This initial attack is one of the approaches I teach my Creative Writing students at the local college. “Get it down. Get it right later.”
“Get it down. Get it right later.”
After I have the first twenty or so pages, I assemble a three-ring binder for the story, complete with mock-up cover and working title. Tab dividers organize sections into “Chapters,” “Information,” “Research,” “Ideas,” and “Manuscript” among others. This is all part of getting it right, and there’s something about this hand-eye-brain connection that suits me.
On binder paper in the Chapter section, I write “Chapter __ – pg. __ to __ (POV character’s name). The following line will have page numbers for the next POV character. Since I write romance, I always have at least two point-of-view characters. Keeping a running page number helps give me a feel for how the book is progressing.
At this point, I make a list of scenes I want in the book—nothing detailed, just a general idea listed in as few words as possible. I also have a pretty good idea of the ending. Sometimes I write the ending before I write the rest of the book. It just depends.
And now the dreaded S word: synopsis. Yes, I write a synopsis of the book for my own purposes. A synopsis keeps me from bogging down, wondering what’s going to happen next. It keeps me moving ahead. However, it’s not chiseled in stone and can be changed at will.
When I wrote my first book, I had the luxury of sitting down whenever I felt like it and working on my novel. I took my time, wrote things as I saw them happening on the movie screen in my head.
Today I can’t afford that luxury. I have to know where I’m going—even if I change it—and I have to meet deadlines. Those deadlines aren’t as tight as they were in the newsroom, but they’re just as critical.Since it’s much easier to hold an 800-word news story in one’s head than an 85,000-word novel, I need all the visual help I can get. In addition to my binder and synopsis, I’ve begun using a white board taped off into thirty sections representing chapters. Color markers indicate characters and plot points. This board gives me a birds-eye view of the book.
When I’m satisfied with how the story is laid out, I photograph the board and send the picture to my computer where I can print it out and insert the page in my binder for future reference.
By then, I’m ready for edits!
About An Improper Proposal (available tomorrow June 1)
Description from Amazon – An Improper Proposal – First in the Front Range Brides collection of stories about strong women who find and defend love in 1880s Colorado.
Love hadn’t brought her to Colorado, but it might be the one thing that keeps her there.
Mail order bride Mae Ann Remington won’t let circumstances get in her way. When someone else’s greed costs her everything—including her groom—she does the only thing she can in a new town with no money or friends. She asks a stranger to marry her.
Cattleman Cade Parker stops at the bank to withdraw cash for his sister, not find himself a wife. But that’s exactly what happens after a bank robbery leaves a farmer dead and his headstrong bride-to-be making a desperate business proposition.
Convinced he’s gone loco, Cade accepts the spirited young woman’s offer, and they stop by the church before heading to the ranch, his horses, and the herd. He’s soon adding to Mae Ann’s fine cooking skills by teaching her to ride, shoot, and do what he tells her. She manages the first two fairly well, but gets her back up at the third.
Cade struggles to keep his emotional distance from the stubborn gal whose gentle ways start drawing him in. But when a greedy neighbor challenges Mae Ann’s inheritance of her former intended’s run-down farm, Cade and Mae Ann drive to court at the county seat and into the jaws of a deadly storm. Not only must Cade fight to keep his new bride safe, he’s got to keep his heart from stampeding out of control.
Taking on snakes, scoundrels, and second chances is one thing, but falling in love wasn’t part of the deal.