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From Brain to Book (Part 1)

I’m trying to blog more (yay), but since I don’t want to spam you guys with 20 weeks of content about Miss Carrigan (preorder now), I thought I’d write up a few blog posts about my process, and how to write a book. Or more succinctly, how I get from brain to page and back again.

Up front: Your mileage may vary. Hell, my mileage varies.

The Idea

My books come from one of two places: Razia and Lexie have been complete books floating in my head for decades, whereas Madion and Empath are brand-new babies, with character names cannibalized from not-good-enough stories from yesteryear. Eventually, I’ll run out of Column A, but for now, I seem to be going back and forth between new and old ideas.

Generally, when an idea comes to me, I’ll brain dump a bunch of words on it. Scenes, dialogue, beginnings, endings, whathaveyou. Then I’ll put it aside unless the urge strikes me again. And repeat until the book pops up on the schedule.

The Schedule

If you’ve spent any time around me,  you’ll know that I get off on planning. I’ve got all my little plot ideas organized for the next six years and oh yes, a SharePoint site to match. Oh yes, indeed. It’s hot.

ahem.

At such point that a book pops up on the queue, it’s usually got anywhere from a few thousand to 40k already written, depending on how much idea-dumping I’ve done. And this is where it gets…tricky.

My drafting process is never the same, and it drives me absolutely batty. Each book has a rhythm, some of them are chapter-by-chapter, others happen completely out of order. And still others just happen in 3,000 word chunks, daily downloaded.

When I’m drafting, I tend to get too wrapped up in word count goals. I’m a habitual low-count writer, and I tend to over estimate how many words a story will take. Helped (or not helped) is my Scrivener word count goals and alerts.

Oh, I haven’t mentioned my favorite program ever? Let me show you…

Screen Shot 2016-07-07 at 9.55.16 PM

My Scrivener files contain entire series. There’s a couple reasons why I do this: First and foremost, I can flip back and forth between books to check facts. But more importantly, it allows me to keep formatting the same across all the books, super important with something like Madion where there’s custom codes on chapter headings and all that. And it makes creating a boxset eBook version a breeze.

Scrivener has a bunch of different cool drafting tools that I use on occasion. The full-screen composition mode is the best distraction-free writing money can buy, the word count goal is a great way to break down a 75,000 word book into manageable chunks with a deadline, and the alerts give me something to shoot for.

The Work

At this point, the only thing to do is to write. Get the words down, get a plot together that makes some kind of sense and read through it a few times. Then the scary part happens – sharing it.

That I’ll talk about next week.

Published inBusiness of Indie Publishing Series
  • Thank you for sharing your process. It’s fascinating how everyone’s process varies, which is good. I write a lot of short stories myself, and I found that each process is different. Particularly in the length of time that it takes to write out a draft. Sometimes, it takes a few days, others take a week or even a month. That usually depends on when I can get to my laptop and have the time I need to work on something.

    I look forward to part two of your writing process series.

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