I’m asked two questions most often about my writing. One is, “how do you come up with story ideas?” and the other usually centers on the actual methods…translate: how many hours are spent planning, plotting and preparing before actually setting pen to paper?
Since I’m all about FRESH STARTS here, and I am beginning a new stand-alone novel, The Kaleidoscope, a Novel of Unusual Circumstances, (This is my working title, and as with everything else here, open for discussion.) I thought it would be terrifying fun to post along the process as the story takes shape.
I’ve added some personal challenges (besides blogging the journey) to up the ante. I want to grow as a writer, and as I study from some terrific teachers, I will post what I’m reading and studying.
So please, join me as I take you backstage so to speak, as my idea becomes a finished book.
Practice, practice, practice.
If you’ve written before, or heck, learned or practiced anything while others watched, maybe a new sport, talent or craft, you know how it feels to bare all. I applaud you for that. The accountability can be scary, right? But we’re all friends here. Can I get an amen?
Most writers are advised to do several things: take classes, go to conferences and join a critique group (and/or find a critique partner who isn’t related to you…or in your employ, LOL.) Check, check, and check.
I’m proud to say I have had some of the most awesome critique partners who speak truth in kindness. (Shout out to Rebecca Farnbach and her group; and Ashley Ludwig, Dona Watson, and Joanne Bischof!)
L-R, Ashley, Joanne, me, Dona
I’m eager to get your input, so if you have a question, have read a great book or site that adds to the conversation, or even if you sense a wrong turn, see a misstep or catch me in a foul-up, please weigh in. I welcome your input and always covet your prayers.
And if you’re writing, I’d love to hear from you!
I used to show hunter-jumpers, and when my green horse got comfortable taking small hurdles, my coach would remove the pegs, and raise the top rail for a higher challenge. Literally, I am raising the bar on myself, and hopefully this preparation will bring me a clean round when it’s showtime.
Here’s how I conceived of “The Kaleidoscope.”
One of the techniques I wanted to improve upon was to “deepen my POV,” to build believable characters who are dimensional and complicated. To write a book where the people begin to seem so real, you know their thoughts, childhoods, secrets and shames.
That’s good casting, folks.
You have to test a character’s chops to discover motivation, and one way is to offer them a challenge. So I searched for a method or idea to really scare the daylights out of my main character (MC).
I used to work in the properties department of live theatre, providing handheld items for actors to carry, so props are special to me, close to my heart. I searched for something that would be used throughout the book to further the trouble my MC would face, something he would learn to love and hate. (Every story needs trouble in River City!) Beware, I will use a mash up of theater and horse riding metaphors, LOL. #selfediting!
I considered using a snow globe for my prop. Somehow the MC finds or becomes its guardian. But that bothered me for two reasons: a) it’s kind of cliché, overdone, and b) I also wanted the image revealed to be a secret, visible only to the viewer… so my MC would have to get to know the person better after they looked.
Snowglobes evoke winter, another reason I passed on using one.
Voila, I decided a magical kaleidoscope would work! (I’ll discuss exactly how the MC is terrified by it in a future post, but don’t worry, we’re not writing horror…um…I don’t think.)
Before I was settled on a ‘scope, though I also searched Amazon to see if there were many books using Kaleidoscopes as a motif, and found a few, but none using the plot device I plan. Perfect.
As you’ll notice, I haven’t identified what genre I am going for. Yet. But I’m beginning to see lines forming. Because I will attempt to write deep POV, I’m dabbling in literary fiction (with my little pinky), and a magical ‘scope, so the fantasy element is now there. (NEVER thought I’d write fantasy.)
I’ve been writing for mainly a female audience until now (THE SEASONS OF CHERRYVALE), and I wanted to really stretch myself, so I decided my MC should be a man.
I’ve been reading “Million Dollar Outlines” by David Farland, and he reminded me that by casting the MC as a man, I might attract more male readers. (More on this EXCELLENT book in a later post.)
Aaannd…not only will I no longer be able to fall back on “how would a woman think/react,” I will have to do my homework and pay attention when I write how a guy thinks.
Which is a perfect setup for the next post, which will cover some terrific books I read to prepare myself for laying down the groundwork for the plot, setting, characters and other tools.
To see the pictures I’m gathering around the casting and setting for Kaleidoscope, check out my Pinterest board.
I’d love to hear your stories of making fresh starts, thoughts about writing, or what new talent, hobby or endeavor you’re challenging yourself with. If I’m really inspired, I might enter you to win random giveaways from my overstuffed shelves.
Be sure to check out Christina Katz’ list of terrific freelance writing books!