One of my favorite things about blog reading is learning about other people's writing processes. There are so many different ways to put an idea on paper and then transform it into a novel!
So how do my stories evolve from a twinkle in my eye to a fully formed book baby? (Well, when a writer and her story idea love each other very much...)
Just in time for my second ever NaNoWriMo, here's how I'm planning to turn my brand-new WIP into another completed manuscript:
- Pick an idea. This is arguably the hardest step for me, but there's always one that shoves the others aside and hollers, "Pick meee! Pick MEEE!" And then it pops up in my dreams, waves its arms frantically when I hear a certain song or phrase, and generally makes itself too obnoxious to ignore.
- Buy a new notebook. I apologize to all trees, but I have to have a fresh notebook for every new story. I prefer spiral (so I can stick a pen in), with a folder or two, and nice clean lines.
- Write a short synopsis. When I was younger, I loved writing book jacket and movie summaries for my stories. Now, I use that as a pre-noveling tool to get a general idea of what my story will be about.
- Make a cast of characters. I like it when books include a dramatis personae section, where you can see how each individual is related to another (i.e. Hamlet, Prince of Denmark; Gertrude, his mother; Claudius, his uncle). This is also where I name my characters, with a little help from my friend Google.
- Do research. My NaNo project is based on Greek myth/legend, so I hit up the library for resources: history books, myth retellings, and a biography of Arthur Evans, the archaeologist who discovered the palace of Knossos. I take notes on things that I want to add or that might be pertinent to my book.
- Make a chapter-by-chapter outline. I write a short, general description for each chapter that includes all of its major events. This is subject to change, of course, but it becomes a writing map that I rely on heavily, especially during time crunches like NaNo.
- Decide on add-ins. I always have a page called "Add-Ins," which are events/characters that might not be crucial to the plot, but that will help with other stuff, like world-building. Eventually, as the story unfolds and I decide how closely it's sticking to the chapter outline, I'll write each of these on a post-it note and attach them wherever I plan to write them in.
- Make a loose schedule. I don't do this for every story, but with NaNo, it's a necessity. I pick a projected final word count (also subject to change) and divide it by how much time I have to write. I set mini-goals and try to hit those to stay on track.
- Write, write, write! Write until there's a rough draft! Usually, by the time I type "The End," I'm so sick of the story that I take a long break (1-2 weeks) before Round 1 of revisions.
- Revise, send to CPs, revise, send to CPs... And rinse and repeat.
So there's my basic strategy. It might not be the easiest, and the planning stage alone can take weeks to months because, well, I need to work and have a life... but that's the technique that helped me write my three previous books!
What's your process like? Do any of these steps show up on your idea-to-book-baby journey?
P.S. This will be my final entry for a while as I gear up for NaNo. Feel free to spy on my progress here and to send me snippy tweets if I'm not meeting my quota. See you in December!