An Often Terrifying Journey
I’m just about done with my next paranormal (Book 5 in the My Immortals series): My Darkest Passion. To the point where it’s time to start thinking about prepping for the next book, which will be the first of the sequels to Lord Ruin. For anyone who may have read LR, this first sequel will be about Lucy and Thrale. Unless I change my mind.
At least now I have enough knowledge about my writing self that, although it’s always daunting to start a new book, I have a process that’s gotten me through going on 20 books now. I also have a system, sort of. However, I wouldn’t go so far as to say I have a plan. That would be an insult to people who actually do plan.
The last several months, I’ve been immersed in the paranormal; the contemporary world, but with demons and witches and the like. I don’t have to worry about vocabulary much or clothes, or architecture. I’m always surprised at the things that crop up that need research. Part of the story takes place in San Diego, a city I have been two maybe three times, but always on business. Never for research or fun. Twitter to the rescue for my questions about San Diego– Tweeples who actually live in San Diego! And then, Google Maps, Street View, Google images to take a more targeted look at the terrain. Everything else takes place pretty much in my backyard. (Not literally, just figuratively.)
Actually, there ARE vocabulary issues. There some small but crucial differences in idiom between Northern California and Southern California, and they instantly identify someone as being from up north or down south. And, it gives away writers who put the wrong words in a Nor Cal person’s mouth. Or vice versa.
Whatever Works, Right?
For my historicals, I start with the same base set of computer files. My handy chronology of Regency Events, for example, the files I use when writing (chapter, cast of characters, chapter outline… except, I didn’t do an outline at all for the last three or four books…) I have a store of research books, analog and digital, and I’ll generally flip through my materials on fashion and architecture, just to get in the mood. Such swoony gowns! Mostly, I start mulling over my hero and heroine. What’s the deal with them? What draws them together and/or pulls them apart? What scenes will show that happening?
Since this one will be a sequel, I’ll re-read Lord Ruin and refresh my memory about the details of the story. What clues might there be in the book about where Lucy and Thrale are headed?
Actually, with Lucy and Thrale, I happen to know a fair amount, as it kept popping up while I was writing Lord Ruin. It’s odd how clearly I recall the things I ended up knowing about her that I also knew were about her story, not Anne and Ruan’s. Thrale, too.
I dislike starting out. My desk is never so tidy as when I am engaging in behavior that avoids this. The initial words are all so thin and wimpy. I know that eventually they won’t be, but still. So much of writing seems to be about fixing the not-good-parts.
So, in the next couple of weeks I’ll be jumping into writing The Next Historical. I know enough about my writing process that I know it’s a jump. Right into the deep end. I try to start in the middle as it tends to save me from having to delete the first five chapters. I figure I’ve done well if it turns out I actually need to add — or is that pre-add? Well, whatever. I guess we’ll see out it turns out!
Which is why the planning sort of writer probably feels a bit woozy right now.
Whatever works for you is the right answer. What’s the point of doing something that doesn’t work for you, even if it works for others? Some people love character interviews; my characters hide in the shadows when I try to interview them. The only way I can figure them out is to put them in various situations and see how they react.
My own process has been evolving into a non-process. Maybe it’s because my writing time is so fragmented. For me it’s more productive to just do what seems fun than to try to follow a plan. I wasn’t always this way, though, and wouldn’t necessarily recommend it to anyone who hasn’t finished a manuscript before.
Oh, and wishing you lots of fun as you delve into the new story!
Oh…I like the little bio at the end.
I have to have a synopsis, partly because that is what the editor wants, but it really does help me know if I have a whole story. After that, I, too, just jump in and see where I wind up.
I envy people who plan scene by scene, but if I could do that, I’d feel done with the story before I’d ever written a word.
Heh. Thanks, guys!
Thanks so much for sharing your writing process with us. Each writer has their own combination of steps and processes that work best for them. None is better than the other. It is really a matter of what works best for you. Other authors may cringe at your process, but I am sure they realize it work as does their’s for them. The important part is the end result. Who cares how an author gets there when they write a good book? We just want to read it and enjoy.
Good luck with getting started on and finished with THE NEXT HISTORICAL.
NorCal is hella different from SoCal.
Best of luck with your sequel! I started a new book today. I’m two pages in. That’s why I’m here.
@libraryPat: Exactly! Whatever process gets you there is the right one!
@Jane George: I’m dying here.
Good luck with your avoidance behavior and see you on Twitter!
For the NorCal vs. SoCal dialect impaired “hella” is so so soCal.
The big difference I always notice is in how we talk about our freeways.
NorCal: “Take 80, then 580 E.” “5 is a mess.”
SoCal: “Take the 80, then the 580 E.” “The 5 is a mess.”
It’s subtle, but even the news casters tend to do it.