I have had more than a few emails asking me when the sequel to 1929 will be out. The truth is, I have no idea. While I am half way finished with the manuscript I tend to get sidetracked with other projects. Which is a good and bad thing. I miss my characters from 1929 terribly and knowing what I have planned for them, sometimes it gnaws at me to get back to Rockport. But most days I can’t seem to get myself to open up the file and while I’m not sure why, I do know that when I do, it will be wonderful. Timing is everything. Regardless, in an effort to become more productive, I have tried to research what other authors do. The big names have a lot of good advice and while I am sure they aren’t giving away all their secrets, (that would be foolish) they do pass a few along and I always consider using them for myself.
For example, I read in an interview with Nora Roberts (while not my genre of preferred reading, is still an extremely prolific author) writes the entire book in one sitting in an outline. It goes on for pages, (3 or 10 I can’t quite remember) and then she goes back in and fills in all the details, expanding each scene with details and character development. Nice idea, I thought and tried that for myself. Bomb. Can’t do it. I got through the first page and couldn’t stay away from the details. I just had to expand it right now. What I did discover, however, what that when I get stuck muddling through the middle, (I have nine manuscripts stuck at the middle, by the way) if I write out the next five major events, -Judy goes to bank and finds out her identity was stolen decides to sell house after talking to uncle -starts to fall for construction guy working on house– that sort of thing, then I can jump from lily pad to lily pad and get past that awful middle section that causes me so much pain. So even though I can’t do it exactly the way Ms. Roberts does it, (and I wouldn’t want to emulate a style exactly, I value individualism far too much) I did learn something by tweeking that method to make it work for me. Who knows, I might actually get to those nine half-finished manuscripts now!
Another author I have researched extensively is Diana Gabaldon. (The Kracken of authors…sorry, little inside joke with my muse.) Maybe it’s because hers was the first book I picked up after college and hadn’t read anything but textbooks for years, or maybe it’s just that she wrote a damn good series, but I admire her writing so much. She is the queen of details and rich characters. I have read the Outlander series three times. The first time for fun. (Good thing I didn’t find it in college or my grades would have suffered terribly.) The second two times I read it, I was studying. How she opens and closes a scene. What she bothers to go into detail about and what she leaves to the imagination. Her style is brilliant. Something I have learned from interviews with her is that she writes scenes from all over the book and then pastes them all together, somehow managing to create a thousand pages of Jamie and Claire wonderfulness. So, guess what? I tried that. With the current book I’m working on, actually. Bomb. Can’t do that either. I got so off track, so confused and ended up clicking “Copy…delete” instead. What I discovered from that, is that if I write the very last scene, it helps me stay on track. Like a wall map with pushpins. “You are here.” and “You need to get here.” I have stopped trashing manuscripts (I think I’ve thrown away 5 that were barely buds of books) since employing this method.
So, again, these authors methods did not work for me, but by investigating, I found something that did. Now, I need to go back and write the final scene in all my half-finished material and I might be in business.
So, my method, for those readers who have emailed me and asked, is still evolving. Currently, I flesh out a three-part idea on day one. It rolls around like a rock tumbler in this manic brain of mine and soon details start emerging. I get the first scene out and write the bullet points to get me through the first few chapters. I use the bullet points to pull me through slow spots and usually by the end of the first week I write the last scene. Once I have the front and back buttoned up, it goes pretty smoothly from there. Details and characters reveal themselves and off I go. My biggest challenge at that point, is finding the time.
Stay tuned for news on the new cover design for 1929 and for the soon to be released “Reclaiming Katie”