This week my sister, Kerry, and I were talking about The Unfading Lands. I have her reading sections as I go along and she provides me with feedback. She's not the only person reading my work as I go, but she is the only family member to have ever gotten a glimpse at something I've written prior to it actually being published. I like to think this is a big deal. Anyways.... we were discussing the book because I have yet to send her another section to read and she's like, "Come on already!"
So I started thinking, "Don't rush me! Don't you know what it is I'm doing right now?!"
and you know.... No. She doesn't. Or at least, she didn't until I filled her in. It made me realize that maybe it would be neat to share with you how I work and sort out my thoughts. Because people don't always know the process.
It's easy to write a few pages of a text. But when you have over 400 pages, it becomes harder and harder to dig back into the manuscript to look for certain scenes or character moments, etc. And I am NOT saying this is how everyone works, but this is what I have found works for me... though it is constantly changing.
FIRST, I begin the top of my manuscript by having a list of my characters' names, much like a play has them listed for you in the front of a Playbill. That way, I know who I want to incorporate, where they are located, what type of person they are, etc. Plus it helps me later on if I forget to mention one or something, and I'm like "Oh yeah... gotta' work that one in somehow." ;) it's happened....
So that's one of the first things I do.
THEN, I work on my descriptions of the characters. What do I want them to look like? I use image searches all the time for certain celebrities. I like this person's hair, I want to describe this man's eyes... how would I describe them? It helps me to have a visual to actually look at sometimes. So my characters end up being a collage of multiple people that I form in my head that best depicts the person I'm going for. :) Not weird at all......
NEXT, I just start typing. I'm not a handwritten person, because honestly I would be burning through spiral notebooks if I wrote out every manuscript. And also because as I write, I may not complete a scene or even add one where it needs to be at that particular moment. So I may be finishing a paragraph like this:
"Elizabeth wandered through the woods."
That is what it would look like. I add the asterisks and highlight them in green so that it stands out and tells me I wanted to go back in there and add more information to that specific scene and character.
OR it may read something like this after a paragraph.
"Elizabeth wandered through the woods."
************ King Granton disapproval of actions. Resolved by Eamon.
Again, I highlight it in green. It is a small reminder of what type of scene I want to add in. (And no, these are not actual examples from my book. ha! The character names are, but not the info I just typed. Muhahahaha)
THEN, I write some more, and as new ideas keep coming, I add more asterisks and more scenes. When I reach the moment to write out those individual scenes, then I delete my little comment and move along. :)
NOW, when I'm in the heart of the book and all the scenes are reaching that incredible moment of BOOM! My thoughts turn more into a spider web. Everything is jumbled, my excitement is actually a hindrance, because it sends my brain into overdrive and confusion trying to sort out which scene I want where, etc. So then I have to map it out.
I sent a picture to my sister this week of my "Brain Web." It basically looked like a Unabomber went off on it... or Rain Man... either way, it looked crazy. I assured her that it made perfect sense to me. And my husband, Brad, just rolls his eyes and laughs when he finds random notes lying around. (I would show a picture of this ... but then you would see my writing and ideas and it would kind of be a spoiler!) :) So here is a picture of Charles Dickens' mark up of Great Expectations to give you an idea of the chaos that ensues while writing and editing. ;)
So there are a lot of stages in the writing process. And I'm sure every author operates differently. You learn as you go and there is no wrong or right way of doing things. It's just what makes sense to you that will work. I keep all my crazy webs, maps, drawings, post its, etc. because I love to look at the different stages that eventually result in an actual organized, beautifully bound book. When I speak to groups or schools, I find what everyone loves to see is how an idea becomes a book. And there is no better way to explain it than to SHOW them the different stages... even though when you walk out of there and realize they think you are a crazier person than when you first walked in. :)
Howdy Everyone! And welcome to my website! My name is Katharine Hamilton and I am a writer and multi-genre author! Thank you for stopping by!