Monthly Archives: January 2013

Preparing to Start Your Next Novel

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

For the last six months, I’ve sworn that I will be starting my next novel in February. In the meantime, I’ve been tackling oodles of projects, from writing short stories to submitting them, as well as continuing to send Kyresa to various appropriate markets and agents. I knew I wanted the “board clear” when I began writing my next book, so that I could wrap all my focus and determination around crafting my next piece. The truth is, the tale has been bubbling around a bit in my head for almost a year, but having had Kyresa go on for so long, and then having had a full length side project I wanted to tackle first, I needed some time to let it all simmer.

All the same, I’ve been so immersed in these shorter pieces for the last few months, I felt a variety of sensations upon discovering that February starts this Friday: a bit of terror, a lot of anticipation, and overall, a genuine sense of excitement. Fortunately and by fluke coincidence, I’m going to end up with a large chunk of time to write on Thursday, which in turn gives me the opportunity to close up shop on the shorts until I resurface from the first draft of my dark fantasy novel. This means I can wake up Friday to my blaring 4:45 alarm and dive right into it, without any hold ups of what if or but I didn’t or oh I meant to…. Pretty convenient timing, if you ask me. Phew!

So how do I prepare to start my next novel? It’s a great question, with many answers depending on the writer you ask. For me, preparation meant finishing other projects that would eat at me if they weren’t complete. It meant reviewing the [extremely incomplete] rough outline I wrote a year ago about my plans for the book. It also meant bolting upright after a dream at 3 a.m. one night in late December, running to the computer, and frantically typing the first two paragraphs as my protagonist said them to me in my sleep. (Yes, this really happened.)

But I imagine that on Friday, when I sit down to start, I’ll actually be doing much more prep work. Kyresa was less about outlining for me; this was instead something I did after the fact, a way to organize my thoughts and figure out the point of each chapter and where I could move things around. For my next, as-of-yet untitled work, I intend to have a little more of a plan before I launch. I prefer to not know the end when I start, but to at least know a few bumps along the road. If I were to sketch out my narrative arc this Friday, it would probably look like a rocket shooting straight into the sky, waiting for a reason to come back down—and that’s okay with me, for now. While I’ll need to flesh out some more key events, I’ll also write some character sketches to get myself pumped up, and bookmark various informational websites that I’ll need to reference along the way (note: I’ve been fascinated with Russian names, lately, so this will indeed come into play).

In short, if you asked me what I do to prepare for my next novel, I suppose my answer would be, “Type up some quick notes, cross my fingers, hope for the best, and then turn into a shut-in and let it all flow!” 🙂

But what about you?

How do you prepare to start a novel? Do you start on a lam, or do you plan out extensively before you launch, using research, characters sketches, and detailed outlines? What gets you motivated and ready to GO?

Please share your thoughts below!

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Where Am I Going, Where Have I Been?

Hello again, Readers!

It’s been a long time away, and I have so many things to share with you! For starters, yes, that title is a reference to the masterful Joyce Carol Oates and her beautiful work, “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” Has my time away been like 15-year-old Connie’s journey in the story? Golly, no. But it has been a time of discovery in all things writing, and since Joyce Carol Oates’s talent is incredibly admirable to me, I would say that my time away has inspired me to dive headlong into my writing. (And if you are unfamiliar with Ms. Oates, check her out!)

So, what have I been doing for the last six weeks while I broke away from this blog?

TONS.

Here’s a quick list. I…

  • Finished editing a novel-length side project
  • Edited three short stories
  • Researched markets for six short stories and submitted three others
  • Cleaned up my website
  • Started tinkering with ideas for the novel I’ll be starting in February
  • Received super exciting news about a short story I wrote (the official news comes out in May/June; I’m leaving you hanging, sorry!)
  • Read oodles of stories and books, and I mean oodles—a book of short stories, a few stand-alone shorts, a literary novel, an amazing dark fantasy novel, and two YA novels, all of which were great examples of solid writing (which in turn makes me a better writer), and
  • Researched and read a lot of blog articles about fiction authors maintaining blogs, such as these three thoughtful posts by Joel Friedlander, Rachelle Gardner, and Jody Hedlund.

This last bullet point actually led me to some deep thinking about the whole blogging process. I’ve missed posting regularly, but mostly I’ve missed you, my readers! On the other hand, I found in the last six weeks that I was not only less stressed, but I was extraordinarily productive with all my writing plans. When my alarm blared at 4:45 so that I could squeeze my 30 to 45 minutes of writing in before work, I was actually less likely to sleep through it, chuck it across the room, or even allow Sienna Cat to fight with it and bat it off the nightstand (she’s apparently not into the noise). I also found myself coming home more excited to tack on more time, often spending at least an hour, if not two, on something writerly before I fell into a deep, idea-rich slumber.

Another thing I noticed was that, while I’m enjoying reading the blogs that I follow, a lot of posts reflect similar information. That is, an idea, or topic, gets addressed by many of us at some point, often in a short window of time. Most of the time it’s not intentional, but all of the time, it’s inevitable—take for example the three articles I read in a six-week window on authors blogging, and if you google the topic, you’ll find many more. The good news is that this provides interesting perspective and commentary from each author, but the bad is that the whole point of blogging, or one’s “platform,” is to showcase something special and uniquely you.

This put me at a bit of a crossroads. The creative boon is the key piece—I am, after all, a writer, and the only way to be a writer (and eventually get published) is to be a writer and write—and the burst I’ve had in the last six weeks has been amazing. I do enjoy blogging, but for different reasons—namely, connecting with and hearing comments and thoughts from you, my readers. Clearly, some sort of compromise was in order. Would I quit blogging forever? Ha. NO. Would I give up all the writing creativity? Double ha. HECK NO. But…

What I need to do is write.

Frequently.

Constantly.

Repeatedly.

That said, I’ve decided to scale back my blogging a bit. From here forward, I’ll be posting the second and fourth Wednesday of every month. I hope in this way I will (a) still be able to connect with you, providing fresh, informative posts, and (b) be able to continue working on my writing at the productive pace I’ve experienced since the beginning of December. It was a tough decision, I’m not going to lie, but a necessary one.

Knowing that many of my readers are also writers, I’m curious what all of you think about the burning to write or blog question.

Do you find blogging takes away from your writing? Do you love blogging so much/enough that it doesn’t matter? And also, why do you blog?

Please share your thoughts below, I’d love to know!


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