Thursday, January 15, 2015

Time for Another New Beginning! by Alison Handerson

And suddenly you know: It's time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings. ~ Meister Eckhart

I rarely find myself starting a new story in January; in fact, I can't think of another year my schedule worked out that way. Usually I'm in the middle of a project and spend January trying to get back up to speed after losing momentum during the holidays. Well, one of the big positives of  my current project is that it allows me to start a new story every month!

I've mentioned before that I'm working on a collection of Christmas short stories, inspired by our Roses of Prose stories, to be released next fall. So far, I've written five of the ten planned stories. My schedule allows me one month to write each story. That way I'll still finish in plenty of time even after life intrudes and I invariably fall behind.

The best thing about writing this collection is that I get to experience the magic of beginnings over and over on the same project--that heady rush of creating a new setting and new characters with a whole new set of problems. Talk about keeping the creative juices flowing!

As a confirmed plotter, I've found I have to do a significant amount of pre-writing even for a short story. Creating a fairly detailed character list before I start helps me understand my characters, and a brief outline of the three 1,500 word acts makes sure I have an actual plot. If I try to skip this step, writer's block grabs me by the throat and shakes me like a rag.

But why would I want to skip it? Pre-writing is one of my favorite parts of the process--the time I can let my imagination run wild. As I write this, I'm beginning my sixth story. This is what I know so far: 

  1. It will be entitled NO ROOM AT THE INN.
  2. The heroine Charlene (Charley) owns The Foxborough Inn, a B & B in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley
  3. The hero Joe is a building contractor (i.e. a carpenter) from the Washington, D.C. area
  4. Joe arrives at the inn on Christmas Eve during an ice storm with a very pregnant teenage hitchhiker named Maria, who's on the run from a trio of Mafia hitmen (i.e. wiseguys), only to find the inn booked up with a Christmas wedding party.
  5. Despite a few intentional parallels, this is a comedy--not a re-make of the original Christmas story. Charley doesn't put them up in the stable. (They stay in her cottage with her.) And the baby does not arrive on Christmas Day.
I have some ideas about what will happen, and I won't start writing until I've decided on the basic plot points. That should help the actual writing flow smoothly. Fingers crossed. I've also created this mock-up cover to inspire me as I work. Hopefully all the new beginnings will help this project zip right along until I type THE END. 



Margo Hoornstra said...

You sound very excited about this project, Alison. A definite plus. From your plot points, I can already visualize some conflicts. You have a beautiful cover, too. That would inspire anybody. Best of luck.

Jannine Gallant said...

The cover is adorable. Love the concept for the story you're working on now. There's a lot to be said for writing short and all those new beginnings. Keeps everything fresh! When you're down to one story, maybe we should discuss first lines for next year's Christmas stories so you can kill two birds (turtle doves LOL) at the same time!

Alison Henderson said...

Margo, the plot's taking shape. I'm trying to balance comedy and heartwarming stories in the collection. The one I just finished was a straight contemporary about a woman who owns a miniature (dollhouses and furniture) shop on an island off the coast of Maine.

Alison Henderson said...

Jannine, I hope to finish the collection before we start on this year's ROP stories and bring it out right after Halloween. However, knowing me, your suggestion might be spot on!

Barbara Edwards said...

I sometimes wish I were a plotter, especially when I read such a great outline. Cn hardly wait to read the entire story.

Alicia Dean said...

Sounds like an awesome project. I love the cover, and the facts you revealed. I'm also a plotter and feel lost if I don't know where the story is going.

Leah St. James said...

Love the concept, Alison! I'm hooked. Can't wait to read your stories.

Diane Burton said...

What a great idea, Alison. Love the cover.