Wouldn’t It Be Awesome If I Was A Developer Who Could Program My Own Freaking Ideas??

I’ve been extremely occupied with edits for my second novel, “Nothing Ventured,” this week.  And I thought there was no creativity left in my overworked brain to pour into the old entrepreneurial arsenal.  Thoughts of Mia and Chris incessantly swarm my mind and my sole focus is to finesse their love story to the satisfaction of my editor.  In fact, I think I’ve dreamed in italicized subtitles for the past few nights.

I didn’t think I had anything left.

But then I came up with..ta-da!!!!  An idea.

In my past life, like a waaaaay long time ago, I was responsible for putting together business requirements for system development projects.  Of course there were endless Microsoft Word doc templates available for this exercise, with tables of contents so long they’d rival the length of the actual document.

I’m exaggerating. Kind of.  =)

But then software packages were developed to simplify the process and analysts could input their requirements into a program and answer a whole slew of questions that would translate into a section of the overall deliverable.  The software package would tie all the components together and take the work out of building the narrative.  Analysts input the pertinent information, the software does the rest.

Not that I’m suggesting authors write books with this type of software but think about applying this concept to the editing process.  Developmental edits are a huge pain.  If an author needs to move chunks of a manuscript around, it becomes very tedious to track all the downstream changes.  Plus, sometimes an author may want to “test” a scene out in a different location but wants to see how it might impact the overall story WITHOUT messing everything up.

A software package that could help with this process would be super useful.  Instead, authors (read: ME) end up saving multiple versions of the manuscript, trying to test out various scenarios and often forgetting which one is the gold copy.  To mitigate the risk of THAT, my titles are normally something like this…

NothingVentured v1.12.3.4 ChrisGetsDrunkMiaGoesOverboard.docx

Not confusing at all, right?

 

Stop Trying To Bypass The Process! It’s There For A Reason!

I’m a very process-oriented gal.  It’s a big part of my day job and I’m good at designing them.  There are very good reasons why processes are developed, implemented and executed.  They guide an initiative to completion.  They lay out a set of logical steps that individuals can follow in order to achieve a specific end.  They account for deviations and exceptions along the way and they include alternate steps to avoid pitfalls and challenges that may crop up.

Generally speaking.

As a newbie author, I didn’t realize that I could apply a process to the development of a novel.  I thought that creativity trumped organization.  I was SOOOOO wrong.  

My wonderful editor Cindy showed me the error of my ways and because of her, I used PROCESS to learn about my subjects.  One of the key steps in the process of developing a compelling novel?  Develop your characters!  Learn everything about them!  Create a robust backstory for each character in your story, so that you know where they came from, what past experiences shape their views, and how they interact with others.  After I followed the process and learned about my characters, I was able to rewrite my story with depth and purpose.  I didn’t realize how shallow my first versions were until I spun out the third.

But yet again, I find myself resisting the process.  What the hell is wrong with me?

I got halfway there.  I know Chris like the back of my hand, but I’m still not sure about Mia.

Cindy gave me a few different scenarios to build out as I developed my character sketches.

1.  Most Embarrassing Moment

2.  Angriest Moment

3.  The Character’s Reaction to a Dog’s Incessant Barking

You’d be surprised how well you get to know someone as you create the events leading up to these scenarios.  My immediate problem is that I’m only halfway through Mia’s character sketch.  I haven’t fully developed her backstory.  Sixty pages into Nothing Ventured, and I’m still at a loss.  I don’t know where I’m going because I don’t know HER.

This madness has to STOP!  I need to embrace the process or the whole story will unravel like a cheap rug.

Getting To Know My Next Hero…It’s All About The Character Sketch

Image

Liam Hemsworth

When I decided to write Unlikely Venture, I just WROTE.  I made some notes here and there but for the most part, I found out what was going to happen as I typed.  I didn’t have the whole story mapped out, didn’t use an outline.  But that style kind of suits me.  I’m impulsive so I don’t like wasting time on the planning.  I like to jump in feet first, headed straight toward the action.

I’ve learned a lot over the past year, though.  And I’ve determined that maybe a bit of planning can go a long way.  So, while I am taking a very short hiatus from my last set of edits, I delved into book 2.  I’ve been making notes everywhere, including on my iPhone as I drive (not advisable).  Sometimes to avoid potential fender benders, I call myself and just talk through my notes so I have a voicemail as reference.  Maybe it’s time to download a voice recorder app.

Anyway, I’ve been working on character sketches for my new book.  I didn’t create these up front with book 1; it wasn’t until my editor requested them that I actually sat down to learn about my characters.  I love the robust backstories that resulted from that exercise and a lot of the detail made it into the story.  Anyway, I now recognize the importance of planning.  I could continue my helper skelter writing and eventually, I’d spin out a new tale. But it would lack depth and breadth because I wouldn’t be intimately familiar with my cast of characters.  And that’s a necessity!  You need to be connected to these people to craft a compelling story about them.

So I’ve been working on Chris, my next hero.  But before I can write about him, I need to picture him in my head.  So I’ve been Googling and finally landed on this image.  It’s exactly how I see Chris in my head.  And you know what?  The backstory is just pouring out of me now.  I just needed to make that physical association before I could really understand what he’s all about beneath the surface.

This pic of Liam totally hits the nail on the head.  He is Chris.  =)

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