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:


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