The Honeymoon Period

There’s nothing quite so exciting as starting a new project.

For me, it starts with a concept: two witches running in a mayoral election or an alcoholic detective with the ability to see magic. There’s no plot yet, just an idea that, given conflict and some supporting cast, could make an interesting story.

Next comes adding that conflict. That’s the first tricky part. What would be the hardest thing for those witches or that magical detective to overcome? How about if the witches are friends, or the detective is investigating a case where she can’t use her magical ability? Once I’ve decided on the Worst Possible scenario, I flesh it out, giving it a face and a name, a high point and a low point.

Then comes the really fun part: breaking out the index cards. I carry them around and scribble every possible idea for a scene onto its own card. Eventually I accumulate enough disparate ideas that a plot starts to emerge, and that’s when I start to assign turning points and major plot points.

And somewhere down the road, a book is born.

This isn’t really a natural process for me, but rather something I’ve developed to blend my “pantser” tendencies with a more organized approach that I know works.  (And lucky for me, Scrivener works in just the way.)

The whole process is fun, but I tend to think of these early stages as the true honeymoon period. Before you put anything on paper, the story is sheer possibility. Your characters are witty, your plot is a nail-biter, your reader will laugh and cry and wonder at the awesomeness of your climax.

It’s all fun and games until you realize your character just comes across as mean, your suspense is really just tedium, and the only tears your reader cries are tears of boredom. Those things are all fixable, of course, but that’s where you really have to get to work.

But before any of that happens, you’re writing the perfect novel.

Today I cracked open a new pack of index cards. I have a concept, and I’m ready to bring it to life.

It’s not fantastic timing. My wedding is rapidly approaching, and I’ve put off the querying process for Shaken until I get back from my honeymoon. But I’m smitten with a new idea, and my mind is itching to create something new.

What does your process look like, readers? Do you ever get the urge to start something new, even when the timing is less than impeccable?

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2 thoughts on “The Honeymoon Period

  1. When an idea comes together in my mind, I always want to jump right in, regardless of what else is going on in my life. This sometimes backfires and I end up with 3 partially-finished novels all competing for my attention. 😉

  2. All the time. Like, I’ve got a piece I want to whip into shape for submission, one more in progress, and then this idea….
    I wrote down (long hand, pencil on paper) enough of the new idea that I should be able to reconstruct it after I clear the deck a little. It’s still back there, percolating…

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