How do I write books?

A conversation with a fellow author had me thinking about how the different people in the world write their stories. It became an interesting topic for us both as we realized that not everyone has a set way or a “right” way.

How do I go from a thought to the finishing sentences?

First I keep a small notebook with me everywhere I go. It has slips of paper shoved in it from the times that I have an idea but can’t pull out the spiral mass (mostly happens at work). New book ideas go in or even quick thoughts on current projects. I guard it so well that I have been known to lose my phone and not the notebook.

After a quick synopsis is set for a new book, I only write little things down as I think of them. I might have only a title and a paragraph down, but the dream has started.

When I decide to take on the actual project of writing is when the dirty work starts. I write out characters, outline the chapters, and get down on paper the twists and turns of the story. This can take me several days or I can outline only the first few chapters and know the book will continue without any more knowledge on my part. Let the characters tell me where to go after the halfway point, kind of thing. I did this with Blank Slate and only added the one sentence of who the bad guy was and the final twist to set the ending.

Now New Camelot is an entirely outlined five book series. The characters are more intricate and detailed than the first draft I am posting online. Casey is also the same way, but four books are done in outline and less characters (thank everything).

Keeper’s Kinn was entirely outlined, the first outline was scrapped halfway, and it took four different endings before I was satisfied. Keeper’s Kinn was a challenge for me that I gave myself during the NaNoWriMo competition in 2013. I wrote the outline the first night on November 1st and then wrote the 1,667 words needed to start the novel. I also wrote this outline onto my computer and not into my notebook. I found during the challenge that I didn’t like having to tab between the four screens just to write and that I enjoy flipping my pages instead.

I write in order as well. A lot of people write out scenes or even the ending of their stories first, but once I have an outline I follow it chapter by chapter. I flow the outline together with details and information. I weave together the thin strands in my outlines to create their beautiful tapestry. The character spec’s become people during this time.

The first draft can be rough and sometimes I’ll skip parts of my outline just to get the story down (note: there are missing parts in the New Camelot: Blackout that is currently online). Once the book is complete, I walk away for up to two weeks. The first draft will mingle in my brain if I didn’t do this. I’ll start another project or look over notes to a future book.

Second draft is the missing scenes are added in. This takes me going through my version and adding in where I have made the notes that something is missing (you don’t see those notes on my online versions).

Third draft is done after I read through it. I now add in character details, little things I should have done the first time but didn’t see the gaping hole until now, and double checking my own grammar and spelling. This draft is sent to an editor when it is completed.

Fourth draft is things my editors say need fixing. This is the one I always fidget while working on. It means I have completed a book. It gives me a new thrill inside. This is the one ready for people to read.

My fanfiction never go on through the first draft unless there are glaring mistakes that I tweek after comments are made. Ten years ago, on my Beautiful Curse book one, I actually didn’t write an entire chapter. I skipped the chapter thinking no one cared, really, about where that little plot bunny was hopping to. I can redo the entire thing from memory, but I decided it had enough attention at the time. It is also riddled with errors in spelling and grammar. I do a quick glance through each chapter now before I post it for possible grammar and spelling errors. I don’t catch them all, though.

Another difference to this is that I am writing The Storm completely from my mind. This was a challenge given to me when I explained how Blank Slate was outlined. So, the challenge was to write with no outline and no character sheets. The Storm is completely made up almost on the spot. I have to remember where I was to put my twists and who my characters are.

Sending out feedback is great, though. I might change something in my outline due to a comment. The review or comment also helps me to put notes in my outlines for possible fixing on the second draft. We all write differently. I love hearing what people have to say on my books. Never feel intimidated or that I won’t change something, because maybe I didn’t see it when I wrote the outline.

Does your writing differ from mine? Give me feedback and let me know. Maybe I can skip a step or maybe you have a suggestion to make my stories and books.

You can also message me on Facebook. I promise that I will respond as soon as I am able.

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