Author of Sweet Hope and Happy Endings

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To Plan or Not To Plan: Starting Your Novel

From idea to publication: The journey of a published novel

I am a planner. I always have been and always will be. Planning is a huge part of my life.

The careers I have chosen (or fallen into) are ones where planning is crucial. If I didn’t plan properly, it meant someone didn’t get paid or the organization lost more money than it made. Someone could miss a flight or not get picked up from the airport. Other bookings could cost money or be the cause of cancelling an event if I didn’t plan properly. Deadlines missed. And the list goes on.

photo by pixababy
Planning and Plotting
Photo by pixabay

There are all kinds of ways to write a novel. Books about plotting, books about pantsing (aka “winging it”), and resources about plantsing (plotting and pantsing together) abound. There is no one way to write a novel – except to sit in your chair and get it done.

But seriously whatever works for you is likely the best method for you.

At the time I started working through my idea of SNOWBOUND IN WINTERBERRY FALLS, I relied heavily on the resources I’d discovered through countless hours of reading writer forums, blogs and articles on the craft of writing.

One resource that continually popped up was Gwen Hayes’s ROMANCING THE BEAT. She was a romance editor at a time where the genre was really starting to take off and she’d noticed a pattern in the successful novels her imprint published (successful being high volume of sales). These books had what she broke down into “beats”. There are 25 of them.

Yes. That many.

Character sketching

Another idea I came across was creating character sketches prior to figuring out your story. Some authors suggest using a Proust questionnaire . I tried it – for this book anyway. It was a bit complicated at first and it was really strange “interviewing my characters”, but you know what? A crucial piece of my story came from that “interview”.

So I won’t knock it entirely.

Since then I’ve found another method I like better (check out Susan May Warren’s The Story Equation).

With a two page outline of the general story, I set to work on the romance beats and filled in what I could. The beats combined with the character sketches gave me enough to go on to feel confident about starting my second manuscript.

Once I had about half of the beats filled out, I opened a new Scrivener file and began typing:

CHAPTER ONE…

If you’re a writer, are you a plotter, pantser or plantser?

From Idea to Publication: The Journey of a Published Novel

A Series on My Journey to Publication

When I first started on this journey to publication, I hadn’t realized how much work goes on behind the scenes before the finished product hits bookshelves or virtual shelves. So I thought I’d take some time to talk about the process and pull back the curtain on a very long, but rewarding, process.

SNOWBOUND IN WINTERBERRY FALLS is due to release on November 20, 2020. The idea for the story started back in mid-2018. I’d just finished writing my first novel and had entered it in several contests and submitted it to various publishers. While I was waiting for responses, this idea about a Christmas story was germinating.

THE IDEA

I love Christmas stories and am known to read them in October right up until New Years, so the idea of a new holiday story intrigued me. I also needed something to focus on while I was waiting for responses. The initial idea was triggered by a Facebook post someone had shared about a resort that does Christmas all year round in New England. I followed a rabbit trail and discovered a month-long holiday festival celebrated in Middlebury, Vermont which starts November 30 and continues right through December 31.

What a fun setting and event to work through a story!

Photo by Ylanite Koppens from Pexels

I began asking questions. Having been an event planner for much of my career, I wondered how the event planners would handle things going wrong or disappearing all together. It sure would throw a wrench in the plans! In a place that does Christmas better than any other in New England, why would someone want to destroy the festival or at least the appearance of wanting to destroy it? And who would be able to get to the bottom of the mystery?

I probably have answered those questions quite differently than others would have. You’ll just have to read the story when it comes out in November to see how I handled them!

Have an idea? Start asking questions and see where your story takes you.

Next time, we’ll talk about plotting or pantsing or plantsing.

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