PHS Editor Michelle Styles describes her process of writing a novel.
When you first start writing, it is easy to get overwhelmed. everywhere you turn there seems to be a different way to write. Let alone how to craft a novel.You must do this one article proclaims. Nope, it is best done that way. Outline first. Use this template. Brainstorm. Fill out character lists. Or don't.
All of a sudden you hear words bandied around. I am a pantser someone will proudly proclaim or I'm a plotter. And daggers are drawn. Each person proudly saying that they are right. And often looking with envy or dismay at the other.
A new author could be forgiven for wondering if that means that people who write into the mist don't have a plot. Umm no. The plot may be in their head rather than written down. The process has no relation to the finished product. It is just how one person gets there.
And some confused souls can't seem to make up their mind. Pantser or plotter? Do I have to choose?
I happen to fall into the last category. I am not sure what I am. (No comments from the peanut gallery either). Some books I've written have required thinking out and a detailed outline. Others. have not. I knew from the outset who the characters were and what they needed to do.
In other words MY PROCESS IS AT BEST A MUDDLE AND AT WORST A MESS.
There I have said it. I may seem terribly organised and confident but really it is all about what works on the day.
Some have been straight from page one to page 320 or thereabouts. I would love to think I am linear writer (please can I have my fantasies!) but often I find that I have forgotten things including whole chapters and sequences. Once I got to 35,000 words and realised that the story was nearly done BUT I'd skimmed over the middle bit. I hadn't written just the fun scenes. I had skimmed over the important things and feelings needed to be explored. This book became Sold & Seduced. Sometimes I have had to thread an important motivation in and actually fire the heroine. Cue The Viking's Captive Princess. Other times, I have had to take something out. Cue Viking Warrior UnWilling Wife Sometimes, despite all my plotting and growth arcing, I have to throw everything away and start again. Cue the upcoming To Marry A Matchmaker.
Inconsistent is probably the best description of my process. It works for me. I love writing and I love my characters..
Ultimately while I can describe the best practice or can give a description of what every novel contains, I can't tell a writer how to get there. I can only say what works for me. Once I have the first draft, I can do certain things but getting there is hard.
I do envy various authors. I envy them their story boards, their collages, their rich music lists or even the effortless way they seem to write into the mist. Everyone always seems to be doing it so much better than I do.
And I have played around with things and found they work sort of but really I am inconsistent and they don't work always. And some things have rendered me a gibbering wreck.
Fellow muddlers unite! Let me know I am not alone!
The one cardinal rule that seems to work every time for me is Butt In Chair, Hands On Keyboards and write. It is easier to fix a bad page than a blank one. If stuck, plot a bit or do what it takes to get to the next sequence. But the any other rules depend on the story. After all as Isabel Swift, Harlequin VP and Nora Roberts former editor says -- Keep your eye on the doughnut and not the hole.
So what's your process so I can envy it? Or what have you tried that hasn't worked?
Michelle Styles is currently working on her latest muddle (due 1 Nov -- it will be fab honest!) Her next UK release is The Viking's Captive Princess and North America, she has a free online serial His Stand In Bride starting on 15 November to support the publication of A Question of Impropriety and Impoverished Miss Convenient Wife.