Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Work in Progress

It's late January and Jaime and I are deep in our new writing projects, known in writerly lingo as our WIPs or work-in-progress. They only get dubbed a manuscript or MS when the first draft is completed.

I'm often asked about the process of writing a novel. Sometimes when people learn that I've written novels they comment that they've always wanted to write a book but have just never taken the time or didn't think they could do it. What does it take?

It takes little fragments of time, a story spark, a theme, a hero and heroine--all strung together with lots of soul bleeding, prayers, brainstorming, and persistence.

Jaime and I work best with a somewhat fluid annual goal of one novel a year. We start with rough ideas from September to December. Jaime started hers in November with National Novel Writing Month--NaNoWriMo, and I started mine in January with OhNoWriMo--otherwise known as I-never-did-NaNo-Oh-No. Our goal is to finish our first drafts by late February/early March before we convene for our 3rd annual writer's weekend at Jaime's.

For me, the writing process is an exercise in letting my right brain roam free. My day job is heavily left brained, so I welcome the balance I find in writing.

What steps does it take to complete an MS?
1. I need a story idea, a premise, something that will drive the entire story start to finish.
2. I need a hero and heroine who will best fit the premise and the underlying spiritual theme.
3. I find a setting I know about that fits best with my writing voice. For my first three novels, it's been the North Woods of Wisconsin.
4. The next part is knowing whether you are a plotter (heavily outlined planner), or a "pantser"(a feel-it-as-you-go-person). I like to have a rough idea of my beginning, middle, and end. My first novel was totally pantsed. The second was a bit more plotted. My current WIP is a balance between plotting and pantsing.
5. Brainstorming character profiles, spiritual themes, and plot twists is a favorite stage. Phone calls, Facebook chats, emailing chapters back and forth with Jaime is the next phase.
6. I start a Pinterest board: WIP # 3 Ideas for my brainstorming that gives me visuals for my scenes and characters. I choose character templates:

7. Sometimes research sparks a story idea at the beginning, but at this point in the process some research is often needed and might also spark a plot twist or a character flaw.
8. BIC time--Bum-in-chair. FOKT--Fingers-on-keyboard-time. SAP--Staring-at-page. For this phase, I plug in my iPod, turn on some Mumford & Sons and just start bleeding all the above onto the page. I write in my office, by the fire, on the couch, or at the coffee shop.
9. Often the further you get in the process, the more shape and definition it takes. Jaime and I exchange chapters and then a final MS read through before our writer's weekend.

10. Then we dive into deep edits from March to September when it's off to ACFW 2014 in St. Louis!
Blog post by Anne Love-
Writer of Historical Romance inspired by her family roots. 
Nurse Practitioner by day. 
Wife, mother, writer by night. 
Coffee drinker--any time.
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  1. I hope someday I get to read these MS's!!

  2. Wow, I never realized how much goes into writing a book. Something I could never do but fascinating to read about what you go through. How wonderful too to have a good friend and "partner in crime", LOL! I def want a copy of both of your first published books, autographed of course!

    1. Yes, and this is just the unpublished process. You'll be on the reader list Gail!

  3. Thank you for that interesting post , Anne - loved reading about the writing process for the two of you! SUCH a long, hard, journey to publication, and beyond - I become more appreciate of the books I read, with each writer/author testimony I read!!

    How many novels have each of you written? I fully expect to see both your names on books in my local stores - eventually, and am praying towards that end!


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