“Writing a novel is like making love, but it’s also like having a tooth pulled. Pleasure and pain. Sometimes it’s like making love while having a tooth pulled.” ~ Dean Koontz
Last week I had the pleasure of talking about Writing Romance and Strong Character with Patricia Strefling. This week Patricia returns and we delve into the finer points of writing a novel, the process involved in writing fiction, and we find out how Patricia gets from initial idea to romance book.
Writing fiction is a detailed process and each writer approaches it differently. Do you plan and outline your books before writing the first draft? What is your “Patricia Strefling” writing process?
The only planning I start with is a “video” in my head about what my character is about… what her problem will be and go from there. You are right, we all do it differently.
I make a list of characters, and facts as I create family members, locations, and other details. This is done on scrap paper stapled at the top. That has worked thus far, but while rewriting my third book I learned a new skill (for me). The new process worked better than trying to “find” my place whenever I needed say, a birthday that I know I mentioned SOMEWHERE.
I now keep a few sheets of lined paper stapled together with each chapter listed and two or three sentences about what that chapter is about. Alongside I list a time-line so I know where I’m at. It makes it so much easier than trying to find a certain scene but forgetting which chapter it appeared in.
Unlike many of my writer friends, I do not plan or outline the story because I really don’t know what is going to happen. I prefer to have a few ideas as I begin and let the story write itself.
One question that comes up frequently is about the day to day routine of a writer. How does your writing impact your day to day living and your schedule?
Wonderfully, I am retired and not required to have a certain schedule. But I must say here that I am ADD, which just means things do not hold my attention for any length of time… except when writing a story! The hardest task for me is to START. Once I start, I cannot stop. The story seems to unwind like a long roll of toilet paper… each small square a scene.
I once wrote an entire 60,000 word novel in 18 days!
How long did it take you to write each book and how much time do you feel you spend working at each stage of the novel writing process?
I tend to be a fast writer, but I slow way down when it comes to editing. If I could write story after story, hand it off to an editor and keep on writing, that would be my dream job. I struggle with re-reading the story once it is written.
Some have taken two months to write, some longer if my life gets busy. After I wrote “Edwina” and published it, readers wanted to know what happened to Cecelia and Spencer. They had engaged in the characters.
WHAT? I had no other story in mind. But about a year later, they had their story. “Cecelia” was a lesson I learned from my readers. They want more you give them more.
Patricia is donating a copy of “Edwina” and a copy of “Cecelia” to one lucky winner at The Craft of Writing Fiction in celebration of her visit here. Last week I shared part one of my talk with Patricia and next Monday I’ll share part three, so you’ll have a total of three opportunities to enter. I’ll announce our winner on the 26th of July.
Want a chance to win? Simply, ask Patricia a question of your own, or leave a thoughtful comment, regarding writing a novel and the novel writing process below. Then share this post with your friends.