By Heather B. Moore, 2016 TWC Chair
When I meet writers who are looking to get published, they often ask me how I decide where to start my story, who the characters will be, and how I plot.
So as I’m preparing to write my next book, I thought I’d give you some insight into my process.
Maybe mulling is the more correct word. I have to have the main character pretty well defined in my mind before starting to write. The secondary characters come into the story to support the main character—and sometimes they surprise even me.
Creating a Schedule
Writing, of course, is not always controlled by that effervescent muse (Annette—I’m probably using effervescent wrong). Writing is part creativity, and part science. Editing definitely falls into the science category, as well as actually completing a book. Like any writer, I’m constantly pulled in different directions. But once I decide on a book, I need to create the schedule to get it completed, and limit any other stories in my head that are trying to derail priority number 1.
This is an evolving process and changes and grows as I get further into the writing process. For instance, when I write my first draft, my character motivations aren’t usually ironed out. I’m writing mostly plot and dialog. About half-way through draft 1, I’ve had to make solid decisions about my characters, so I’m adding information to my character sketches as I go. So during the 2nd draft, I’m inserting more characterization to the beginning of the book.
Point of View & Tense
I take into consideration who my audience will be and who the most important characters are. Will the story happen in real time (present tense) or past tense? Will my characters speak in first person (ideal for YA), or third person? It’s a lot of work to change this part of the process, so doing your research beforehand will save you a lot of time later.
This goes hand in hand with character sketching. I have to ask myself what is the main conflict of the book, and of each character.
Now that I have some basics going and I actually sit down to write, I usually concentrate on where I want the story to begin. Not to say that the first chapter I write will be the actual first chapter of the book, but I start pretty near the beginning. Before I start a chapter/scene, I ask myself: “What is the point of the chapter? What will be accomplished? What will it show that may/may not be relevant to the story as a whole?”
Creating a Scene
I create scenes in several phases:
Phase 1: I write, not caring too much about fleshing out the characters or the description, but I am nailing down the direction of the scene.
Phase 2: I revise the scene and insert more description, making more concrete decisions about the character.
Phase 3: This happens when the whole book is drafted and maybe new developments have happened along the way. Now have to go back through each scene to make sure the story is properly directed.
As you can see, creativity has just been replaced by careful analysis (science).
Okay, looking over this list makes me wonder why I even start a new book. Every writer has what works for them. My style might be convoluted, but you never know, it might work for you as well.
Heather B. Moore, the TWC 2016 Chair, is a USA Today bestseller and award-winning author of more than a dozen historical novels which are set in Ancient Arabia and Mesoamerica. Heather writes historicals and thrillers under the pen name H.B. Moore. She also writes women’s fiction, romance, and inspirational non-fiction under Heather B. Moore, including The Newport Ladies Book Club, the Amazon bestselling anthology series A Timeless Romance Anthology, the Aliso Creek series, and the USA Today bestseller Heart of the Ocean.