As a writer taking a rather unique path, I often receive a wide range of questions. So far, I’ve covered some broad topics which you can find here and I’ll continue to shed some light on further questions. With luck, you’ll gain some understanding and insight along the way.
If you have a question you’d like me to answer, feel free to comment or drop me an email.
How do you develop your plot line and conduct research?
Before I begin doing anything, I have to start with a basic idea which usually ranges from one of two sources:
The premise of the book I plan to write. For instance, in Focus, I knew going in that Aisling and Connor would start abroad and spend a decent portion of the book trying to return home and stop the big bad that was brewing along the way, both of which were foreshadowed in Just Breathe.
Or the inspiration. The whole concept of my series started with a brief dream. I saw a man with long hair, casually leaning against an ornate light pole. I could see the haze of purple around him and I knew he wasn’t just a human.
Once I have that little nugget, I try to figure out the big moments (if I don’t already have something in mind). I need: a hook event in the first few chapters of the book, three tragedies spaced out beyond it, culminating in the climax event.
Here’s a little breakdown of Just Breathe to illustrate what I mean:
- Hook event — almost dying from a dark witch attack.
- Tragedy 1 — the step-father’s arrival.
- Tragedy 2 — the attack in the clearing.
- Tragedy 3 — the attack at Aisling’s house.
- Climax — the final face off at the West Lookout Tower.
After I’ve ironed out the big events, I try to work through the whole story. How do my characters get from A (the beginning) to Z (The End … for now)?
I’ll often take handwritten notes, sort of a thought dump of running scenarios in my head. I’ll refine and adjust as I go. This way, I have a record of my thoughts so I can look back in reference or change something that doesn’t fit. Once I have the steps in place, I’ll do a very broad overview of the story in just a few paragraphs.
If the flow is right, I’ll begin to write out the individual scenes and compile them into chapters. I like to do this using my Rocketbook cloud cards — that way I can move them around or change them if they don’t fit the story without wasting paper.
In the meantime, if there’s anything I’m not clear on, for instance if I’m going to refer back to a character’s past, I need to know the timeline of those events. Or, if I need to refresh my memory about certain historical events, such as mythology, I’ll research those.
If I’m going to expose my characters to new locations, I need to know what the area looks like. For instance, in Focus, when Aisling and Connor are in Berlin, Germany, I wanted to do my best to describe how the city looked, despite never having the honor of visiting myself. Google Earth and street views really came in handy for me. Same goes for buildings and inspiration. I wanted to be able to visualize any pertinent details without just fabricating them.
I will delve into greater details on my process in a later series. So stay tuned for that.
Coming up, I’ll talk about how I develop my characters.
Until next time,
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