What’s the Priority?   9 comments

Which part of your book do you spend the most time on? Beginning, middle or end? Something else?

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As The Wheel Turns

I tend to look at my books as a wheel that turns and different parts become important at different times. So I don’t know that I consistently work on just one part of my books. Because I write series (for the most part), the beginning of the book is often dictated by the ending of the previous book, in which case the works already been done. Am I concentrating on the ending or the beginning? That’s a puzzle and maybe I’m doing both at the same time.

Some books need more attention in the middle. There are pivotal scenes found there and some of them need a lot of attention while others don’t. Some write themselves and others are a struggle. Some rely heavily on previous books, which requires a lot of continuity research, while others are more stand-alone and fun to write because they sparkle like new diamonds.

Characterization

One thing that is always a priority for me are my characters. It’s THEIR story that they tell me which I put into a format for the readers to enjoy. So at the back of my mind is always the question of being true to their personalities and the stories they’ve told me. I have leeway to adjust their stories, but I can’t distort them or the characters will dry up as a story source. I’ve had that happen enough to know not to push it. Compelling characters need to be protected even from their creator and they especially need to be honored by me as their creator. They’re not just there to serve a purpose of my own design. They know that. It’s important for me to remember that or they’ll “walk off the set” and leave me unable to write the next book. Oh, my!

Settings

Although I tend to let my characters dictate the plot for themselves, I do like to include at least one or two striking descriptions in every book. That will often get a great deal of my attention, even though it is rarely even a page of published writing. I want the reader to feel like they’ve been there, but I don’t want to overwhelm them with too much detail, so I will write and then rewrite the section until I have it exactly how I want it in one, two or three paragraphs. There are some setting descriptions in Daermad Cycle for instance that took me a month to write.

The Story Dictates My Efforts

I think I don’t follow a standard pattern from book to book. The priority for each book may be slightly different. And that’s fine because the story should get the attention it deserves rather than some rote ritual I perform. Probably the only things I do for every book is do a word search for the helping verb “was” because it is indicative to passive voice construction which I see to minimize and then I also like to listen to a text-to-speech version of every book before I send it to my editor and after it comes back. It just catches errors my eyes don’t see. But that’s editing, not writing.

Good, better, best…eventually, you have to let a book rest.

Posted November 22, 2021 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop

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9 responses to “What’s the Priority?

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  1. I’ve never written a series. It must be a nightmare trying to remember what you wrote x number of years ago without re-reading it all. I suppose that’s where notes come in, but I never make any, lol.

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    • I finally got around to a continuity guide when I realized it wasn’t stopping at three books. When I went to Florida to drop my father-in-law with cousins and then to Montana to visit my sister (last November), I had a lot of time to read, so I read the first four books in Transformation Project and actually took notes. I completed that task last winter. It turned out to be timely because the future books will start referring to the earlier events — I can tell that with the book I’m writing. As my characters start connecting the dots they didn’t even know were there, I need to connect the dots I seem to have written without realizing they’d be important later. But I knew I’d eventually be at the point where the answers would be revealed, I just didn’t realize how tricky my subconscious could be.

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  2. I treated each book in my series as a fresh start. Sure, I had a cast of re-occurring characters, but I wanted the reader to be able to pick up any of the books as a starting point. Unlike you, I found the beginnings harder to write.

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    • Put them in a situation immediately. Don’t set it up, don’t dress the players. Everyone from Louis L’Amour to Robert Louis Stevenson to Homer say the same thing. Get to it, then get after it. “Jesus…” Sally ducked under the bar table dragging the real estate agent with her to avoid smoldering bits of the stage that rained down. “I know they hate Heavy Metal in here, but tonight was just some rock n roll greatest hits cover band.”
      “Yeah, well, this side of the river Santana is too heavy.”
      “But a freakin’ bomb?”

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    • It would be harder to write a “series” that isn’t a serial, in my opinion. I’d feel the need to connect the books with back stories, I think. I haven’t published the third book in What If Wasn’t, which relies heavily on being a serial book, but I’ve already drafted the fourth book, which is almost a standalone because there’s a leap in time and I struggled with that. I want to write the backstory, but the backstory will be published, so I don’t need to.

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  3. The story is boss. Our job is to keep them from getting too far out in the weeds.

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  4. I’ve learned to leave it to my characters to tell me the story. All I do is write it down, smarten it up a bit and pass it on. I’ve tried getting them to be a bit more tolerant of my needs, a good beginning, a great twist and a proper ending. Do they ever listen? What do you think? (cue the sound of mad laughter)

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    • Mine will listen occasionally, but it’s not their preferred method. I can shift their stories around a bit, but they are still the drivers of the plot, so I know not to push it too much. I have had characters stop talking to me in the past. Not like Jacob either, who at 95 was kind of expected to die in the apocalypse. I had Cai, Shane’s brother, not talk to me for a good long while and that would — and is — problematic because he’s supposed to play a critical role in future books. He’s communicating again, but holy cow! Writers who rely on our characters for their stories need to know when to stop fussing with them.

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