So what are the first steps in writing a new novel? I don't know! There's no science to it for me. But I've been plotting the storyline, and some murder, and lots of romance. I've been research old newspapers from England, watching documentaries on Jack the Ripper (no, I'm not writing a slasher novel or another spin-off of dear, horrible Jack), studying photography in 1906, learning the mechanics of how one made a dead person look alive in the creepy habits of Victorian/Edwardian I-just-died photography, and building the concepts of my new hero, who, after-all, must be romantically inclined.
My heroine quickly came to mind. She is strong-willed (shocker), insatiably curious, and quite nosy. Picture a feline in a woman's body. She can claw at you when perturbed, snuggle when sleepy, purr when contented, and hunt when hungry. Knowing the "why" to every incident is very important. Not because she wants to learn from the situation and avoid problems in the future. No. She's not cautious. She wants to know know why because, well, why wouldn't you want to know? It's a mystery. She's also an orphan, so while quite plucky, she'd really prefer a place to belong. But, she's reconciled the fact that that will most likely never happen, because the one thing all orphans learn well into adulthood is, no one will ever truly love them.
My hero, on the other hand, has been quite elusive. I've tried to learn his M.O. and can't. He has hidden, in the shadows, as if he prefers not to come out. And, then, I realized, that's who he is. He prefers life not to be disturbed. Thing should be in order, well-planned, and procedural. But then, when something happens to interrupt those plans, he also responds with a shrug, recalculates his route like a GPS in 1906, and prefers to respond with an, "it is what it is". He can't change what happens, but there's no reason to dig and uncover why it happened. When someone asks "why", it never turns out well, and it's usually none of their business anyway. Besides, he has all that he needs. His sister, his home, his work, his
So those are the first steps in my novel. Figuring out who I'm writing about. Their personalities, how they'll be at odds, and how they fit into the plot. Next, I'll build their quirks. Like I'm pretty sure my heroine chews on her hair when she's thinking, and my hero has a habit of giving one long blink right before he dismisses an idea or person to retreat to his well-crafted, square world.
My heroine will have a cat too. I mean, what more obvious way would there be to drawing out her personality? It will be a stray, just like her, with a bum rear-leg, so it only walks on three. I think she'll call him "Whiskey", 'cause he hobbles like a drunk man.
And that's what I do when I start a novel. Build, plot, plan, and imagine. It's possibly the best part of being a writer. When the voices start talking, you start listening.
What questions do you have about the writing process? I'd love to answer them!