This blog was featured on 03/05/2018
The Wacky Art of Novel Writing (part 1 of 4)

When I dreamed of becoming a writer I imagined authors sitting in front of their computers, the words effortlessly flowing from their fingertips and onto the screen in front of them. They’d start at chapter one and continue to the end of their manuscript without a plot hole or spelling mistake in sight... perfection, right?

For some writers that may actually be the case, but for me – and the vast majority of authors I’ve met – it’s more like blood (paper cuts from the numerous drafts), sweat (trying to figure out plot twists at the gym) and tears (of frustration from feeling stuck). And all of that is followed by multiple rounds of edits and the utterly divine patience of beta-readers and my wonderful editor.

I thought I’d lift the curtain on my own process of novel writing in the hope you may find comfort (possibly help) from the steps I’ll cover in the next four blog posts. Of course this is a very personal process, and these steps are only an example of what might work for you, too. 

Step 1 – The Idea

An idea will eventually lead me to a plot; it's a little nugget of the story. If a novel were a cake, then the idea would be a sliver, the icing, or maybe the cherry on top.

I might have an idea for the beginning, perhaps the very first line or paragraph, or maybe the last. Generally speaking, I know where to start and have a rough idea of what will happen at the end (and both are subject to change) but the middle of my manuscript isn’t even vague – it’s completely opaque.

At first I found that daunting, but now I realize the rest will come later. Going back to the baking, I’d compare writing a novel to layering a cake – you do so in stages, not all at once, and the fine detail, the decorations come far later.

Where do I get ideas? It all depends. For example:

- Time After Time (out now) was born from frustration when I wondered how my life would be had I made different choices. I started imagining my protagonist actually getting glimpses of her alternate realities (think Groundhog Day meets Sliding Doors), and figured out how her journey might affect not only her, but those closest to her, too.

The Neighbors (out March 13, 2018) came from asking myself "what if an ex-boyfriend moved in next door?" How awkward would that be (in my case very)? How bad could I make it for my characters (extremely, mwahahaa)? What kind of secrets could there be between them, and what might happen if they were revealed?

- The idea for third novel (as yet untitled, slated for publication spring 2019) started when I was watching a news report about an 18-year old girl found out she'd been kidnapped as a baby, but who loved her "mum". Does one terrible act make you a horrible human being?

- I'm now working on my fourth novel, which was sparked by something I heard on the radio while I was driving and I'm noodling the idea around in my head, starting to form a plot.

I find ideas can come from anywhere, but if you’re stuck, try building an ideas matrix by following these steps.

Okay, I have my idea, my little sliver of cake. What now? All will be revealed in Part 2!

Thanks for reading!

Hannah Mary

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