Saturday, August 13, 2016

One writer's process

Every writer has a method or process for starting a new project. I've been embroiled in a multi-book series for my last few projects, working on books 5 and 7 of that series, so I haven't launched anything New for a while -- new characters, locations, etc.

I decided to take a break before starting books 7, 8, and 9. I need to step back from the characters so I can come back and re-read everything written so far with a fresh eye. I figured I would take the rest of the year away from that series and dig in and write another mystery and maybe after that write another time travel book. That should fill out the remaining months of the year then next year, in January, I'd get back to my series with a fresh perspective.

I've written dozens of mystery books and a handful of TT books, so I know the drill. Or so I thought ... when I sat down to work on a mystery, I knew I wanted to do another "Remembered Classics" similar to Twistered and Dogged (coming out later this year). So which book to settle on? I was thinking about Beauty and the Beast; maybe Jekyll and Hyde. Maybe ...

It took me a week of bouncing from idea to idea then I decided on Jane Eyre (which is really just Beauty and the Beast in a different setting, but I diverge). I starting jotting ideas for names, settings, plot lines...there's the crazy wife in the attic, the stoic girl thrown in with a brooding employer, a young child... Then there was the Jamaican angle ...

It took me about two or three days to hash out who my characters were and what the plot might entail. I still don't have a good visual picture of my main characters (I need to web surf a bit for that) and I'll need to get locations, house plans, details about this and that, but I think I am almost ready to put fingers to keyboard and start writing.

It took me 2 weeks to come up with this project. And it was 2 LONG weeks. I am always working on a manuscript, so this felt like ... boredom to me. I really enjoy sitting down and working. I fussed around with the garden, I got caught up on some household chores, and I read a book, picked up another one and put it down, and wasted way too much time on a few online games.

I enjoy writing too much to be away from it for long, I guess. I hope by Sunday I'll have the characters firmly in my head and then I can start writing. The plot will work itself out as I go, I know, but I need those character voices talking to me before I can launch into it.

So that's my process--flail about for a bit with stream of consciousness kind of work then settle into it. If it proceeds like my other books, this will take me about 3 months to write. That means I probably won't have time to work on that Time Travel book this year, but that's okay. I can work on it next year, after I write book 7 in my series. Because there's always another book to write ....

8 comments:

Barbara Edwards said...

You have me boggled. I don't do such intense planning and probably wouldn't I f I tried it. I envy you. I hobble from scent to scene with a vague outline in my head. I did find scrivener a big help to scribble down ideas as they occur.
Thanks for sharing and good luck with your upcoming releases.

Margo Hoornstra said...

You boggle my mind too, JL. In a good way. Whatever it takes, right? Best of luck as you venture forth writing wise.

Rolynn Anderson said...

JL and Vonnie. Twin sisters. Hell, if we put them in a room together, they'd be speaking in tongues...some rarefied language. How many books can you two hold in your heads? There must be a Guinness Book record for that category. I'd nominate you both! Two tiny weeks of planning; three months to write the book...another record, JL! And all this while holding down a job. Geesh. I bow to your skills!

Jannine Gallant said...

I need to do this with my WIP. It's complicated, and I'm going to get off track. You've inspired me to take pen to paper and actually plot for a change!

Vonnie Davis said...

I love hearing how other writers write. I have no set process. It changes per book. It all depends on how the characters behave. What they tell me to do. I write all the time, or so it seems when I'm overwhelmed. But then I'm retired. If I had to work, I couldn't handle the deadlines imposed on me. Loved your post.

Leah St. James said...

Another boggled here! I love how you developed your idea with such purposefulness. I need to get me some of that!

Brenda Whiteside said...

So enjoyable to see how another writer finds the beginning, where she starts. My process has changed through the course of this current series I'm working on. I'm now about to start book five...at least I hope so. I'm in the planning stage, researching ranches in Northern AZ, water rights, gauchos of Brazil, and land development take overs. Book one was pretty loosie-goosie with planning as I wrote. Each book required more and more planning until I find myself now needing an outline. You still amaze me with multiple projects. I would love to do that, but not quite there yet.

Diane Burton said...

I love reading how other writers begin a new story. Usually, an idea or scene pops in my head then I just start writing. Eventually, I work out a plot. Lately, the stories rattle around in my head at night. I wish I could complete a book in 3 months. You must have amazing discipline. Best wishes on this new story.