"...Came In Like a Wrecking Ball....
By Charlotte Bennardo
This month, the first topic is about Hot Breakfast month but I rarely do hot breakfasts because it's easier just to eat a bowl of Raisin Bran. Everyone is out of the house very early so there's no one to cook for and I taught my boys in middle school they have to be responsible not only for their own laundry, but for their own breakfast.
The other topic for the month is how do I get started on a project.
I'm in a restaurant, or walking down the street, or reading the news- and BAM! A new idea hits me like the wrecking ball in that Miley Cyrus song/video. My brain goes into overdrive, instantly formulating plot, twists, endings, characters. In a few minutes of frenetic brain activity, I have a general concept for a new book. Hopefully I remember to write it down, because the next day, another idea might hit me and crowd out the details of the other brilliant idea.
Once written down, I go to Wikipedia (hush for a moment, you'll see where I'm going with this) and get basic information. At the bottom of each Wikipedia page is a list of citations. I sort through those which are solid: academic papers, news reports, memoirs, non-fiction books, etc. (See? not all Wikipedia is bad). I probably spend several days Googling info because I get sidetracked, as more thoughts about plot and characters and possible other stories slam around in my head. Sometimes, it gets a little crowded in there...
I make copious notes. As a former newspaper reporter, magazine writer, and paralegal who had to write concisely, I don't want to omit anything that might be important to the story later on. Many times, I have too much information, which requires me to sort through for the most salient facts. Many times throughout a manuscript, I refer back to my notes, or have to do more research, so that's on ongoing thing. Plus, I try to find pictures either of the characters or something that has to do with the idea. With Sirenz 3: A New Trend, I kept a copy of Sirenz 2: Back In Fashion on my desk because it has the picture of Hades and it helped me remember his character (such a suave beast).
I always have a beginning and an end, so it's that whole middle part that's tough. Over the years I've discovered that being a 'pantster' (writing by the seat of your pants- whatever comes to mind) is great for beginning a novel, but not sustainable for the whole book. So now I outline; one sentence per chapter. Then I'll go back and make it several sentences per chapter. Usually I try to create bios for my main characters: what they look like, their flaws, a secret they have, a bit of background, etc. I don't like to make their profiles too specific because they have to tell me about themselves as we more forward into the story.
And then I write, for hours on end when I can, or every 15 minutes I can take a break from other things that need to get done in my life like cooking, cleaning, errands, etc.
Once the draft is done, I put it away as I work on revisions for a previous manuscript. I always have several I'm working on, whether it's a #NaNoWriMo project from a previous year, or an old manuscript in the 'fix me' drawer. After that revision is done, it's back to my new project to do the first of many run throughs and revisions.
Not rocket science, but it works for me.