I’m stuck at home with a cold, and this was exactly what I needed today. Seriously, it’s just dawning on me now that I’m actually getting published. And I’m so happy and so grateful about that.
Book covers are really important to me, and today I got to see mine for the first time. I had requested one with a “sexy, art deco feel” – and this one has that in abundance. I am so happy with it, and I’m thrilled to have reached this part of the process. Soon I’ll be able to show it to you.
Right now I’m outlining my next novel – the second part of my pirate m/m romance trilogy. Outlining is essential to me – no pantsing here, thank you. Plotting takes a lot of time, especially when a lot of research is needed, but I’ve done enough mistakes to know that I can’t do without it. Today I thought I’d share the method I use when I’m outlining a story.
First, I don’t know if it can actually be called a method. After I’ve done all this some more times it can, probably, but right now I still spend the first weeks of a new project being lost and confused about what to do. I’m so relieved I’ve passed that phase, this time around.
The very first thing I do is that I write down everything I know about the story so far. Generally I write down all the little ideas that pop up, so I can go back later and use the ones that are good enough. When I know the beginning and ending I write a brief summary of the story, and then a much lengthier summary. What I want is to identify the main storyline, the major characters, and all the parts where I need more characters and more plot.
The next step is to do a lot of thinking and a bit of research to try and fill all those gaping plot holes. For some reason working titles are also very important to me, so I usually end up thinking of one around this point. I also come up with names for as many characters as I can. Calling them ‘X’ or ‘Y’ during the plotting stage just doesn’t work for me, I need names to get a feel of the character.
After this is done I’m ready to go into detail. First I decide upon a certain number of chapters – just to have something to work with. Then I write down the main event that will take place in each chapter, starting with the beginning and the ending and then just working my way through it until there’s something written after every chapter number.
Then comes the final stage of my outlining, where I write down around eight scenes for every chapter. I don’t know why I’ve settled for the number eight but it works, so I keep doing it. After doing this I go back, arrange the scenes chronologically and decide during which timeframe each chapter takes place. This gives me a detailed plan that’s easy to follow, but I can still add scenes during writing if I need to.
When all this is done I work on my characters, using character sheets mostly but also finding images so I know what they look like. And then there’s all the research, but let’s leave that for another blog post.
Do you outline, or do you prefer to make things up as you go along?
I’m starting to realize Entertaining the Sombrevilles will actually be a published book soon. Slowly that realization is dawning on me and it’s lovely and scary at the same time. When I started working on the novel it was just a bit of a fun side project to pass the time – but I don’t think you can work on any story for this long without getting attached to it. I can’t imagine going trough life without characters inhabiting your mind, characters who often grow into imaginary friends. My focus is always the characters and their relationships, no matter which story I’m writing, and my characters mean everything to me. Letting them out into the real world is exciting, but also something I’m anxious about. What if people don’t like them? What if I’m the only one who can appreciate all those little things that make my babies so amazing?
There’s a lot of whirling thoughts right now, as you can tell. Mostly, though, I’m super excited that things are finally happening – things that I’ve dreamed of since childhood. No matter what the reviews will say (if there are any), I’ve come a long, long way since last year. And I have lots of things left to learn.
So, it might be time for an update. I haven’t blogged in forever because I wanted to focus on my fiction-writing, and fiction-writing takes time. So much time. It’s been going pretty good, though, and I’m about to start planning the second book in my pirate series. But there is even more exciting stuff happening, that I haven’t shared with you yet:
Entertaining the Sombrevilles is going to be published! It will be out on Less Than Three Press and I’m currently working on the final edits. I’m really happy to be working with LT3 and I hope the book will turn out well. I’ll be posting more details as soon as I can.
I also got myself a twitter account. I haven’t quite grasped how twitter works yet but if you want to follow me on there, I’m elvirabell_.