Again, I paraphrase Neil Gaiman when I say, I’ve learned to write this novel. When I was writing Roxy’s Betrayal, I had to rely heavily on what I’d written in the previous book, Janie’s Secrets because they shared a parallel timeline. I had no idea how difficult this idea would be. First, I’m not a plotter/outliner. I write by the seat of my pants, also known as being a pantser. That is not to say that I don’t plan or research or have an idea of where I’m going with the story beforehand, I do. It is one of the things that insulted me about the craft book I purchased which said pantsers have no idea where they are going with their story.
Although I don’t outline my stories, I know a few things about my story and main characters before I start writing my first draft. I know some of my character’s backstory, I know or have an idea of how I want the plot to end or the climax of the story. Much of this I figure out in my fast draft. Which in truth is very much like an outline but in a story form. I call it my skeleton. I write the story as quickly as I can without much detail then I go back and add flesh, feeling, all that stuff that makes it come alive.
With most stories I start with a character or a scene, an idea that has come to me like a seedling. From there I ask questions, shed a little light on it. Some stories come to me whole, I just have to write them down, others I have to work at to find what makes all its pieces and parts fit together. Roxy took a little more work. Not only was I writing Roxanne’s story with a parallel timeline to Janie’s story. I had to figure out how she was going to meet and fall in love with Jorge, an accused murderer. Why they were trying to rescue Janie’s daughter and why they didn’t just ask for help.
I wrote several scenes as they came to me but had a difficult time bringing everything together. The bigger the series gets the more difficult it becomes to mesh each story into the next. I want to layer the family dynamics, their past hurts and future relationships, define their roles inside the family as well as give them a fun sexy romance with some suspense and drama.
I had Roxanne as part of Janie’s Secrets and there is even mention of her in Red Steel, but she was just an elusive idea not completely developed. Until I finished Janie’s Secrets, I really didn’t know who Roxanne was. As I started my fast draft for Roxy, I began to realize I’d misunderstood her. This is where backstory helps to flesh out the character. It is one of the great points in Lisa Cron’s Story Genius. That without backstory there is no story.
Each novel requires a little different process. Now, if you are like the amazing Sarra Cannon, you may have discovered what works best for you to find your muse and productivity. Her methods change very little during the process of writing her novels. She has a master plan and is able to stick to it.
For me, I’ve been developing my plan as I go. Chrome Pink was written with everything thrown in and then whittled down. Titanium Blue was planned with sticky notes and written during my first NaNoWriMo, at least the first version. My middle son and his wife were great resources during this writing. White Gold was also done with sticky notes to help plan it. Evergreen Crystals was another difficult novel because I wanted to write a true romance with their happy ever after, but I couldn’t do it without killing people, so, I let my dark side out and had fun with it. I’m beginning to think I’m a little scary, I blame it on my children. Red Steel was a lot of research, but I actually carried around a small notebook and wrote down ideas, often texting my firefighter son about what this would look like if it exploded. I really want to go to some of their training exercises. Janie’s Secrets was a recycled story with a few additions. Now I’m working on the brothers’ stories. My problem is, I know Remy’s story but it’s not time to tell it yet. I know Seth’s story, but he needs seasoning. I know Trent’s story, but should he come next or should I work on Cole’s story. As I started working on Trent’s story, ideas for Cole came to me, I’m attempting to write both books in tandem but deciding which one will come first will be interesting. I don’t know if I want another parallel timeline, but I may cross timelines.
There are so many ways to tell a story so how can there be only one way to write them?