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:
- It will be entitled NO ROOM AT THE INN.
- The heroine Charlene (Charley) owns The Foxborough Inn, a B & B in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley
- The hero Joe is a building contractor (i.e. a carpenter) from the Washington, D.C. area
- 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.
- 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.