(Part 2 – continued from July 3)
In terms of outline, I normally will write a loose synopsis before I begin writing that sets out the beginning of the story, the key premise or situation that drives the plot, and a general sense of the ending. I want to have a roadmap for the story that will assist me if I get stuck, but I don’t want the synopsis to be so rigid that I can’t vary from it if the characters start coming alive on the page and doing things I didn’t originally anticipate. I try to end each writing session with a few words in bold for where I want to go the next day.
Revisions first involve a developmental edit, where I work with my editor to iron out the kinks of the story, fill in gaps and, perhaps most importantly, trim any parts of the novel that aren’t working. This is one of my favorite parts of the process, as we cut the fat and enhance the theme of the story. The overall theme of Legacy of Lies is redemption, as Bo Haynes seeks to resurrect his life and family by moving back to Pulaski and representing General Lewis.
Once we have fully developed the storyline, the last and most painful steps involve a copyedit, where the book is read with a fine tooth comb for continuity issues, typographical errors, etc. and then a final proofread.
One of the challenges of writing Legacy of Lies was to craft a story that would be pleasing to fans of the McMurtrie & Drake series but also stand on its own as the first entry in a new collection of books featuring Bo Haynes. I wanted to tie up the central situation, but dangle a few twists that will hopefully entice readers to come back for book two. As a reader, I have always loved series characters and books, and I love the feeling of being left satisfied with a book but wanting more from the characters. That was my goal with Legacy of Lies, and I hope I came close to achieving it.
One last tidbit I’d offer for prospective writers. I think of writing as a “flow” and “grind” process. Writing itself is a flow activity where you have to find a state of relaxed focus where you can let your imagination run wild. However, to get there, you have to “grind” and make yourself sit in the chair each morning or evening or whenever you choose to write. Both the flow and the grind parts are important, but the grind is probably the most crucial as you can’t ever get in the flow state unless you force yourself to sit down and stare at the computer screen. Sometimes the time spent at the keyboard is painful and all you are left with is a sentence that stinks. And sometimes, you find the flow and you’re left with a couple thousand words and you feel as if you could write all day. Those good days aren’t possible, at least for me, without a few of the painful ones.
Like life, writing can be sloppy and messy, but also wonderful and magical. I wouldn’t trade a second of my journey, and I’m still learning. One day at a time, one page at a time, one word at a time.
Flow and grind. Grind and flow. Rinse. Repeat. Write.