Wednesday, February 16, 2011

New Beginnings

I have a new book to write.

For an author, this is good news. And bad news.

The good news is that I have a book to write. I have a contract, and readers who are anxious to get my books into their hands. For this, I am forever grateful.

The bad news, of course, is that a new book means a new work cycle means an end to the goofing around I’ve been doing in the week since I finished my last book. I’ve woven a rug, done some house cleaning (not nearly enough), gone down to Kent State University to speak at an arts and entertainment journalism class. It’s been great to get a taste of life away from the computer.

But now it’s time to get back to reality. At least my reality.

Every book involves a different process, at least for me. Sometimes, it’s an idea that sparks what turns into a book. Sometimes it’s a character or a thread from a previous book that I was to follow up on in one of the later books in the series. The book I’ll start working on today–the second book in the Button Box mystery series–hasn’t exactly come to me in a flash of inspired genius.

Oh, I have the germ of an idea. I know what I’d like my heroine to be involved in, a international button show. And I know who I want to kill (going to keep that one a secret). I think I might have even made some notes about who dun it. What I need now is the plot!

I think I’m going to start by listing all the recurring characters in the series and making notes about who they are, what role they played in the last book, and what they’re up to as the second book opens. Maybe that will help things start to fall into place. After that, it’s time to start outlining.
Stay tuned, as I work things out, I’ll blog about the process. In the meantime, though, I’m curious . . . writers, how do you start a book? Do you plunge in? Or are you slow and methodical? I’d love to start a discussion about how we all approach the process and what does–and doesn’t–work.


Sharon S. said...

great topic. I love to read about an authors journey from start to finish with a book. I guess cause it just seems so amazing to me that it can be done . I've had flashes of ideas for a story or characters that I would love to see, but that whole plot thing doesn't come . Good luck with this book!

Casey said...

The whole plot never comes...not without a whole lot of work, anyway. At least not for me. I'm sure there are authors who see it all in a flash. I have to hammer it out, step by step. Hammering will begin. As soon as I finish this cup of tea and ride the exercise bike!

Reina said...

Congrats! I just started the second book in a series (well, it's the third but I moved it to
2nd, maybe there is a perk to not being published yet) when really I want to write the 4th book. lol. Like you,when it's not an inspired one, I need to work at it, making notes, playlists, talking out the plot to my mom (no guilt rambling to Mom), and just writing every day. The plot and characters unfold as I go, though I do know a rough plot outline and most of their backstories. Scary but fun to see where they take me in the specifics. All the best! :)

Casey said...

Ah, Reina, you are a "pantster!" One of those writers who sits down and lets the story whisk them along. I, on the other hand, am a "plotter" (or maybe that's "plodder"). I need all the dtails before I begin. I need to know where I'm going so I can figure out how to get there.

Reina said...

Yes, I am, but I do know the ending and major plot points before I begin any book...but I never know the details and every time my characters spring things on me or make me change things anyway. How detailed are your outlines? I haven't met many plotters. Of course, there could be a genre difference. I tried starting a couple mysteries, but soon realized I couldn't get away with panstering it unless I was prepared for a lot of headaches and missteps! :)

Casey said...

My outlines are fairly detailed, usually about 20 pages of bulleted list, broken into chapters. I don't always know how something will happen, but I do know what will happen. Believe it or not, there's still plenty of room for creativity. For example, in Tomb with a View, the Pepper Martin mystery out last summer, I knew Pepper had to talk to one of the victim's neighbors. I did not know the woman would have a pug and that they dressed alike. So I guess imagination springs little surprises, even on plotters!

Reina said...

Wow! I admire that. I certainly think either way is equally creative. I've just always been a few pages of notes and lots in the head kind of person, even while writing in college and grad school. Thanks for sharing how you work. Sometime I need to try it. Always good to change it up if you can. :)

Angie Fox said...

I'm envying those 20 page outlines. My books are usually "jump on in" affairs. Then at about chapter three or five, my crit partner starts making me focus on the big plot decisions.

This new contract has me turning in three chapters and an outline a month after I turn in each series book, and that will actually force me to take a look at this process - at least for now. ;)