12/03/2012

Process...

I'm starting to think about the next Tyler Cunningham book, peering around the final edit and formatting prior to publishing, "Here Be Monsters" {HBM} in order to do so.  I'm finding that it's working in much the same way as the first time around, and wonder if I've developed a writing process.

  1. My first ideas duck and weave around a few central ideas...in the case of HBM, it was drugs and crime in the Adirondacks; in the case of the next book it seems to be the relationships between rich summer people and the year-rounders that work for them, and justice/revenge being in the eye of the beholder.
  2. Next I try to imagine how the central idea(s) hangs on the place and setting, in my case the Adirondack Park (and to some extent, Tyler's myopic view of the Park).  In HBM, the Park was almost a character in the book, due to its importance in the development and involvement in the storyline and resolution of the novel.  In the new book, the Park remains critical, but the meat of the novel will exist within a dying piece of what the Adirondacks used to be: the symbiotic relationship between the Great Camp owners and their caretakers.
  3. With central ideas and place/setting in place (to some degree), I focus on the characters that will inhabit the novel and explore the central ideas, carrying the plot across the finish line; hopefully to a happy conclusion.  In HBM, being a first novel, I had to build all of the characters from the ground up; some will be moving on to the second novel, some will not.  In the next novel, I get the chance to further character development of Tyler and other main characters, as well as bring in a few new ones that will hopefully, like new spicing, change the flavor of this novel enough to keep it interesting.
  4. With a framework built from central ideas, draped with place/setting and characters, I move on to envision the arc of the story, imagining conflict and tensions and resolution and falling actions.  In HBM, a character closely related to Tyler (he doesn't have friends in any traditional sense) got in trouble, and Tyler had to work his way through a nested set of issues to a messy resolution.  In the next novel, Tyler's challenge will not involved another member of his inner circle (I want to avoid Jessica Fletcher Syndrome in this series), and be drawn into a struggle that only his unusual skill/knowledge set can resolve.  I sketch out (literally, on paper with boxes and arrows) the arc of the story and various plot-checkpoints along the way from introduction to conclusion of the story's action.
  5. Once I have a visual representation of the story, I work on developing a list of story details and bridge elements and sidetracks and character trials/illustrative-points and other drop-ins that occur to me day to day.  I kept, and filled, a notebook of this stuff for HBM, and am in the process of doing the same for the next novel already (although I'm still exploring the 3rd and 4th parts of this process, I find myself skipping ahead to this stage early this time, and I'm giving myself permission).
  6. Once I have all of the previous steps in place, and worked up to my satisfaction (although it's a continuously iterative process), I organize everything and try to check that things line up in some manner...this provides me with a general roadmap to work from once I start writing.
  7. For HBM, I participated in NaNoWriMo's Summercamp during August of 2012, and was able to write the bulk of HBM's rough draft during the month.  I would very much like to do the same thing for the next book, having enjoyed the process of quick and dirty writing for 3-4 hours each day during my lighter summer schedule.
  8. I put HBM away for about a month after writing it last summer, and then gave it to my editor for a first read.  Her first look was for big-picture issues, plot-line or story-arc disconnects, and character/scenes that were underdeveloped and needing rewrites (or unnecessary and needing to be chopped).
  9. I worked off of the meeting notes with my editor to do a re-write of the novel. addressing those points that she outlined, and also polishing things that occurred to me as I read and rewrote the novel from page one onwards to the end.
  10. With the rewrite complete, I gave the new, and hopefully improved, HBM back to my editor for a finer level edit, this time looking at structure and grammar and spelling.
I have enjoyed this process, and while I wouldn't claim that it is the way that I'll do all of my writing from now on, or that it's the way that everyone should write, it seems to be working for me.

Thanks for reading!

Jamie

1 comment:

Mark Turton said...

And here I go by "What would sound REALLY cool?"