Wednesday, January 27

This Is How You Write A Book


Someone told me once - I think during a writing workshop, I'm not really sure - that the best way to write a book was to write a first draft, revise that draft, send it to your editor, and then revise again according to the edit notes. That person said, at that point, the book you've written is ready to be published.

That could very well be the best way to write a book. It isn't my way. But I do know how to write a book: your way.

Seriously. The best way for you to write your book is to do it YOUR WAY. You don't know if you have a way? That's why we're sharing our ways this week...to show you that you don't have to write like anyone except yourself. Here's a peek into my process:

Like Liz, usually the main character comes to me first, and although I write contemporary romances where the hero and heroine have roughly the same amount of point-of-view scenes, I do think each of my books have a single main character...a person that book 'belongs' to. In First Love Again, that main character was Jaime, the heroine with the troubled past. In The Daughter He Wanted, it was Alex, who wanted so much to be whole again. In What the Bachelor Gets, my next release, the book 'belongs' to Callie, the heroine who's made a few missteps, but who is still determined to get things right. Once I've got that character mostly fleshed out, I start working on my outline. The outline looks something like this:

     Scene 1: POV Character
            Scene Goal:
            Scene Motivation:

            Scene Internal Conflict:
            Scene External Conflict:

            Disaster:

I repeat that Scene guide through the end of the book. I'm giving away too much of the book you say? Possibly. Here's what I know: this particular outline format helps me keep my characters GMC - for the whole book and for that scene/chapter - focused in my mind. Also, I'm not married to it. I've had Scene 1 flip into Scene 10 and I've had what I thought was the midpoint of the first act of the book morph into the beginning. I move the outline around as I write because sometimes the characters take us on strange journeys. Once I'm through the draft, off it goes to my agent, and when it comes back, I make the revisions and it's sent off to my editor. That's my process as of 4 o'clock this morning. Check in with me at the same time next year, and I may have tweaked it a bit.

When I started writing, I was a total pantser. I had no idea where the story was going, I just wrote as fast as I could from start to finish. That worked for me through the first 2 books (neither of which will see the light of day). After that, I was still a pantser, but I started by getting to know my characters. After I sold my first book, my process changed again. I sold books 2 and 3 in my Texas Girls series based on rough outlines, and I knew I needed more to go on than a rough character sketch and pantsing my way through 50,000 words. So, I wrote synopsi for each of them and worked off of that. But I didn't like sticking with the synopsis, I felt stifled. So I came up with the outline idea because, to me, a synopsis is final and an outline isn't. I know, I know, I have fooled myself into believing it...but it's how my brain works. So far, the outline method is working, but even that has tweaked. I'm more linear in my writing, but entire scenes will hit the trash bin and something completely different will come into play. That's pantsing again? I call my process pant-lotting for just that reason.

We all have very different processes. That is perfectly, acceptably okay. It's also important to note that your writing process will change along the way because our writing also changes. Our voices become stronger, and our stories evolve just as our writing skills evolve.

Do you have a writing process or tip you'd like to share? Hit the comments - we love tips!!

17 comments:

  1. I like that, that you have someone the book "belongs to." Made me think about my own! I think we kind of get forced into plotting, don't we.

    Great post, Kristi!

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    1. yeah - and the more deadlines you have the more plotting/outlining you have to do!! lol Thanks, Liz!

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  2. "Pant-lotting"... That's a great term for it! And I agree that books belong to a certain character, even when there are multiple POVs... Great post, Kristi!

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  3. I'm a 100% pantser and have been since I started writing. I know where I need the story to go, usually have a title for it, and name the characters, then I start to type. I revise continuously--have never written a first draft that wasn't edited throughout the process. I write the synopsis after the story is finished. Before I send it off, I make sure I haven't left someone dangling somewhere. Is it the best way? Probably not, but it's what works for me. I like to be surprised!

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    1. as long as it works for you, Susanne! I totally get that editing-as-you-go thing!

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  4. Great blog post, Lady Kristina! Luv this!!! ;)

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  5. I believe as long as the book gets written, the author's process works.

    I do bullet points. What happens when. I have a listing of all the chapters (outline), where I need to hit my big turning points, and then I write until I have no more bullet points. As a pantser, this keeps me on track writing and I do my plotting at non-writing times.

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    1. I agree, staying on track is key, Lynn! And keeping those big turning points in mind definitely keeps the books on track.

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  6. I like Pants-lotter! I think that might describe several of us in a way because even though we say we're pantsers, there's still some thinking, plotting, planning going on. Nice post!

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  7. This is an interesting way of keeping your book on track without putting yourself in a box. Thanks. For some reason, whenever I see your name, I think of your crockpot potato soup recipe and can practically smell it. So, yes, focus is an issue for me--always. Thanks for the tips on managing that.

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    1. Cathy--I'm making that right now, for the first time. My house smells like bacon at the moment because I had to fry some up.

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    2. mmmm...bacon!

      And, Cathy, if you try it, let me know how it goes (the potato soup OR the outlining)!!

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  8. I'm more of a pantser with a little bit of pre-plotting--usually just a couple of chapters in advance.

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    1. Cool! When I leave off each day, I usually write a sentence or two about where I think the next scene will go...sometimes it actually goes that way!

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