Firstly, Happy New Year!
Since I am writing a new book very shortly, I thought that I would blog a little about my process, and how I work. Each writer’s process is completely different, and it’s up to the individuals to create their own process.
- Dream up a situation:
- An example of this is of when I happen to be in Australia at the time, and I had been reading all sorts of articles about a ghost yacht off the Sunshine Coast of Australia. I then started forming new ideas, decided to write The Mediterranean Source, and I ended up keeping many of those articles, since they were the inspiration for the book.
Does the book have a ghost yacht in it? Well… yes in a manner of speaking. But it’s a very short-lived ghost yacht. And it’s not the plot of the book by any stretch of the imagination, but it is a turning point for my characters.
Everything else in the book evolved from this ghost yacht idea, including the plot, characters, location, and how it all fit together.
- Characters and their profiles:
- No matter what your story is about, it musthave some form of character in it. Or else… what’s the point?
I absolutely adore profiling my characters. This is something that I have been doing since the very first novel I ever wrote, (The Legacy). Those characters weren’t as robust as they could have been… in fact – I think that perhaps they were too perfect, and too good.
Everyone needs a few flaws. After all, if you want to make your characters as human as possible, throw in a bunch of them. We all have our downfalls, but in the end, that’s what makes us stronger.
When I dreamt up the Talent trilogy, I had to create multiple characters. (I think that’s the problem with writing fantasy – there are so many of them!) Naturally, to keep track of all these different characters, so I profiled every single one of them. I have at least 20 profiles of key characters, and more are developed when the storyline requires me to reuse or remember new characters.
- Setting the Scene:
- You need to have your book set somewhere… so therefore you need some sort of location or number of locations depending on what the story requires.
Whether they are mythical locations, or real ones, it still means that you have to design it in some form.
Key question to ask yourself is ‘why there?’ What is it about that location that makes you want to set a book there? Is it crucial to the storyline? Is it somewhere where you have been before, or is it somewhere where you wish you could go? Take note of your feelings and emotions towards this place, because it’s those feelings and emotions that will no doubt show through in your writing.
- If your character does something as a profession that you know nothing about, then you need to research it. If you have set your book somewhere that you have never been before, or know very little about – it would be a good thing to research it. After all, while I know that that this stuff is probably fiction, you don’t want to just go making it up and making it completely unrealistic and so far outside the boundaries that it’s a ‘hard to comprehend’ read for your readers.
Wikipedia is always my first stop. I don’t know why – it just is. From there I can gain insight, and direction of what aspect I want to research next. Do not use Wikipedia as a one stop shop, because to be honest – it’s far too general, and most of the information is rather high-level. To gain depth of knowledge, you have to dig deeper.
You would not believe the amount that I now know about diamonds, or diving, or about the island of Menorca. I have even had a friend who is based in Spain read through my book to double check authenticity. Of course she came back with amendments… as only a true Spaniard would know the intricate details of their country and the native quirks of the place. Research and feedback like this is absolutely golden.
And these four points tie into something much, much bigger.
– I could talk forever about plotting, cause and effect, and all that sort of jazz, but I’m not going to. To give you a brief summary, something must happen so that there are turning points and therefore character reactions in order to move the story forward.
Aka. SOMETHING NEEDS TO HAPPEN TO GET THE BALL (STORY) ROLLING. If nothing happens, then there is no justification for a storyline or even a book.
Take what you will from this advice. But if nothing happens, then it’s going to make for a pretty damn boring story. But with the combination of the above four points, you should be able to pull at least something together.
- Some people are plotters, and some are pansters. I, myself, am a plotter. I plan everything – right from the very start of the story, through to the ending. Then, once you have finished doing that – read your plan from start to finish. If you think it will still make a spectacular story after you have finished, then you can go ahead to the next step.
If you don’t think your plan cuts the cake in terms of storyline, you need to adjust the plan to make it a good story. Brain-storming helps! A big piece of paper and lots of colourful pens are the best tools to use for this particular activity. Then stick the paper on the wall in front of you, and dream up some new storyline or plotline that will make your plan even better.
The most important thing to remember is that your plan is a ‘living’ document. Your plan should be continually updated and reviewed throughout the process of writing your book. That way, you have a good birds-eye-view of your story as a whole.…
If you are not excited about your plan… or it starts to feel as though the story is a bit boring (happens to the best of us) then change it up.
And that is probably all I am going to actually say on the matter of developing new ideas and the plan of a new book. Everyone if different. Some people fly by the seat of their pants and can write a book organically – rolling and writing idea after idea. Some people like myself, need to plan everything out first. I personally like to have a bit of a roadmap. Both methods work. I find that as the years move on, I trust my gut a lot more now when I’m writing, and I’ll automatically up the stakes with my characters without actually planning for it. This is usually the time when I end up doing a bit of re-planning in order to walk the right pathway with my characters.
So… on that note – I guess I better get onto plotting out Tijuana Nights, and designing my characters. Oh, better throw in a little research while I’m at it. I’ve had this novel idea floating about in my brain for at least the past 18 months, and it’s about time that I extracted all this information and braindumped it all out on paper. This way – I might be able to sort it all out into something tangible.
Happy writing everyone!