Friday, June 14, 2013

My writing process

A lot of people may wonder what the writing process is like for an author. I imagine that it is different for everyone, so my biggest advice to an aspiring author is to just find what works for you and run with it. Here is how I do things.

My biggest thing is My Mega Book of Stuff, aka, this pretty folder. It has my life in it, at least as far as books go. I will make another post devoted to it, because it's that important to me.

 First step: Coming up with an idea. This happens in many different ways. In the case of The Lady of Steinbrekka, I dreamed two scenes from the book and decided to write them down. Heart of Kylassame was my way of sharing my experiences with a not-so-happy happy ending, and giving a glimpse into the darker side of love and life. Soul of Asimina (coming Christmas 2013) was a further exploration into the world of conflict, as well as exploring new characters. Jewel of the Court (2014 release planned) came from the main character poking my brain and saying, "Hey, I'm kind of misrepresented in Soul of Asimina, can you fix that please?" Other books may come from a person passing by in the street, or just random inspiration.

Next step: Inspiration. Sometimes this step will go before brainstorming/writing, sometimes after. If I get writer's block I know it's time to go back to getting inspiration. Mostly this comes from Google images, or from stock photo websites like Depositphotos. Sometimes a beautiful picture is just what you need to get a feel for what your book needs.

Next step: Brainstorming. Over the course of a few minutes, hours, or weeks I jot down everything I would like to happen in the book. Maybe 75% will actually make it into the story, but usually that 25% finds its way into another story, or just amuses me.

Next step: Character names. Normally the characters receive names after they start "acting" in the book. I come up with character names using an eclectic combination of baby name sites and looking up character traits on language translators. Some names are also grouped into categories, such as Rowan and Savin being types of trees. I have a dirty list of characters that has their ages, descriptions, and important information, as well as a clean list that only has the names of the characters.

Next step: Write write Write. Yes, now we're getting to the good stuff. The first stage of writing is what I call "word vomit", a not-so-pretty term for the wonderful writing that results. This is simply me getting the ideas from my head into the computer as fast as possible. While I do page breaks and will write 'Chapter' at the top, I do not format at all, just write.

Next step: Chapter Formatting. After I have finished writing, but before editing, I do chapter formatting. This means writing out the chapters as well as positioning the text to be identical throughout the work. Mostly I do this because I'd rather tinker with spacing chapter identifiers than editing, because I hate editing.

Next step: Editing. This is the part of writing I hate, but I do it because I would be embarrassed to send my "word vomit" to anyone to read. I go through and edit the manuscript about 3 times before sending it to my editor. This helps get most (like...75%) of the grammar errors fixed, as well as giving me an opportunity to change words, fix descriptions, or add scenes.

Next step: Send to editor. This is the nerve-wracking part, sending the file to my incredible editor, Kristina Circelli. It's nerve-wracking because I know Kristina will find a hundred things I missed, and will not hesitate to tell me if something needs to be reworked. She's always right though, always.

Next step: Cover Design. Now, I'm doing a bit of cover design along the way as well, but I am not an artist and do not have the brain of one. Mostly I do rough sketches on paper, or use ActivInspire to do really bad photoshop-esque designs. I then enter into a contract with a real artist who puts the vision into reality. (For example, for Heart of Kylassame I contacted Jenny over at JennLaa Designs and could not be happier.)

Next step: (sick of reading that yet?) CreateSpace. I use Create Space for all of my novels, because, so far, they have been very good to me. I tend to do this part all at once, just because. Enter information, purchase ISBN, upload cover, order proof. 

Once the proof is received, I then accept the proof, or go back and make tweaks to the text or the cover. Once that is done I submit for publishing, and hope that the world loves my characters as much as I do.

(Oh, and one day I will do one of these for e-books, but not today, as my toddler has awoken from her slumber and would likely delete this entire blog if I let her)

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