Writing process Q&A, brainstorming, and THE TRAITOR'S CRUX PLAYLIST!

Hello, hello, hello!

I'd like to start with a great big 'ole thank you to EVERYONE for all of your enthusiasm! I am so unbelievably excited for this opportunity. It is quite literally a dream come true, and I'm seriously just counting down the days until THE TRAITOR'S CRUX is released! *PARTY HANDS*! While I can't tell all of the upcoming bookish secrets, I can tell you that the next few months are going to be filled with finishing book 2 in the series, TTC edits, TTC book cover design, and more!

A few months are going to be filled with finishing book 2 in the series, TTC edits, TTC book cover design, and more! I promise to update everyone as often as possible/allowed. We want everyone to be surprised too! *Wink wink*

Lately, I have been getting lots of questions from you guys about the writing process. Really, it's different for everybody. I can tell you that for me, it's been LOTS of trial and error, but I thought I would break it down to what really worked for me with TTC!

BRAINSTORMING 

The brainstorming process can be difficult.  Even if you like to figure out the plot as you go, it's good to have a basic structure for your work.

Some basic things to get you started:

  • Your novel's theme
  • Genre: young adult or middle grade? Fantasy or contemporary?
  • Setting/period in time/ world-building (fantasy)

Awesome brainstorming tools:

pin.jpg
  • Pinterest (My mood board for THE TRAITOR'S CRUX here. Take a little peek!)
  • Mind-mapping
  • READING! (Read, read, read! It helps!!!)
  • A writing playlist! Take a listen to mine, here!

CHARACTERS

Brainstorming characters can be a tiring process. It can be super overwhelming trying to create characters that the readers will love. For me, Pinterest is a great tool for character creation. You can find pin boards just for certain characters.

I start with the main character (obviously). From there, I give them a questionnaire. It differs between genre (for example, I'm not going to ask a post-apocalyptic novel character what their favorite song is). Usually, I go with these basic questions every time:

  • Age
  • Role in story (protagonist, antagonist, mentor, bully, best friend, etc.)
  • Birthday
  • Hometown
  • Ethnicity
  • Appearance/features/distinct marks (tattoos, scars, etc.)
  • Height
  • Body build (athletic, thin, stocky, lean, heavy-set, etc.)
  • Voice (high, low, husky, nasally)
  • Speaking patterns (quickly, stutter when nervous, accents, well-spoken, etc.)
  • Myers-Briggs Personality Type (see below) 
  • Personality traits (grouchy, hyperactive, timid, blunt/says what's on their mind, etc.)
  • Temperament (melancholy, sanguine, choleric, or phlegmatic)
  • External Conflict
  • Internal Conflict
  • Greatest Fear (BIG ONE! Know their greatest fear so they can face it later on)
  • Greatest Strengths
  • What is their family life like?
  • Friendships
  • Romantic Interests
  • Inspiration for said character (actors/actresses, other characters, etc.)

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

Okay, if you know me well enough, you know I'm fascinated by the Myers-Briggs. For creating characters, it really helps me find a better understanding of what motivates them. There are 16 types, so I won't go into each one, however, the personalities come down to 4 different factors: Extroversion vs. Introversion; Sensor vs Intuitive; Feeler vs Thinker; Perceiver vs. Judger.

 

Each preference comes together to form a personality type. You can research each type, as it shows what motivates and drives each person. For example, one of my characters is an ENFP, (Extroversion, Intuitive, Feeler, Perceiver).

 

For example, one of my characters, Tess, is an ENFP, (Extroversion, Intuitive, Feeler, Perceiver). Now, ENFPs are like hyperactive magical unicorns. Popular ENFPs are Lorelai Gilmore, Luna Lovegood, Anna from Frozen, Phoebe from Friends, and Michael Scott from The Office. Studying the personality type, it shows that they're talkative, spontaneous, sensitive, easily distracted, impulsive, free-spirited, and have a deep caring for others.

Tess is so much fun to write and serves as a relief from the darker aspects of the novel. She's light-hearted, caring, and probably the most loyal of friends to my main character, Kenadee, an ISFP.

The Myers-Briggs is one of my greatest writing tools. I like to decide on personality types for each character, even with the smallest of roles. (You can find it online for free on many sites if you'd like to take the test or find out more)!

THE OUTLINING PROCESS

Outlining is another thing that really depends on the writer. Some prefer to just write and figure it out as they go, while others prefer to plan out the entire series right then and there. Whatever your preference may be, remember that the first draft is literally getting thoughts onto paper. Don't try to make it perfect. You have lots of drafts, edits, and revisions ahead for that!

My personal preference is to outline via a spreadsheet. I use google drive because it's accessible anywhere you go. Here's a screen shot of my process for book 2, which is sadly blacked out (sorry, can't share the secrets yet!)

In the tabs below I also keep separate sheets for each select character and all their information. I color code the tabs to keep track of main characters, smaller roles, enemies, etc.

 

DRAFT ONE

If you're a perfectionist like me, the first draft is like a personal hell. I have 3 first drafts still on my computer from THE TRAITOR'S CRUX that I up and abandoned just because they weren't "good enough".

The first draft is literally getting thoughts onto paper, and while it's incredibly hard, DO  NOT GO BACK AND EDIT. Write, write, write and don't look back. I cannot stress how much looking back at the other first drafts harmed my writing. Instead of creating ideas, I was focused on perfecting them. It's not the time to worry about your writing being perfect, but instead, putting pen to paper and getting the thoughts out there.

REVISIONS

I really think the number of drafts depends on the writer. I did two or three before I started revisions formally.

Pretty much any time I hear the word revisions, I can hear Satan laughing in the background. Take all your writing you just did, and now it's time to once again reassess and change around your story, shaping it so that basically, it doesn't suck.

Again, with revisions, I really like to use google drive. It has a suggestion tool where you can experiment with moving around words, sentences, etc. As a rule, I like to over-write in my first few drafts because I always end up cutting TONS from my work in the revisions stage.

For TTC I did two rounds of revisions before I moved on to edits. This is the longest, most exhausting stage, but also the most essential. (Bring on the twenty cups of coffee!)

EDITS

Most writers do edits in its own stage, but I usually complete edits while I'm revising. It's just a matter of spell-checking, adding commas, making sure sentences are right, etc. etc. etc.

You get it.

TTC took me almost a full year to write. With everyone it's different, and once again, it depends on you. After I completed all the writing stages, I began querying agents. For those that have asked, querying an agent means researching literary agents and finding one to represent you. A query is like a cover letter explaining the basic plot of your book, why it'd be a great match for them, the genre, age group, your writing history, etc.

Agents are not completely necessary to publish a novel, but they are necessary for a lot of the traditional publishing houses. Some publishers you can query without having an agent (such as my publisher, Oftomes)!!!

Another option is to entirely self-publish. Both traditional and self-publishing have their pros and cons, so be sure to research, research, research!

ONE FINAL THOUGHT: 

"The writer must have a good imagination to begin with, but the imagination has to be muscular, which means it must be exercised in a disciplined way, day in and day out, by writing, failing, succeeding, and revising." 
-Stephen King