Friday, December 20, 2013

New Story Smell

There's nothing like "new story smell" you know? It has a freshness, a promise of something exciting. Something different.

Sometimes I can ignore it and focus on what I'm currently working on.

Other times, like today, it is what I have to be working on.

Today, for me, involved blank pages of a legal pad, lots of flipping from one page to another, a blue pen that writes just right on the paper (OCD? Whaaaat?), and coffee. That is how I celebrate new story smell. And how I brainstorm for a new book proposal. In case it helps anyone, or in case you're just curious, here's a little peek into how I do a new story. It's different for everyone, so after you read this, please share how you do it. I can always use a little inspiration too!

1. Initial idea. At this point I usually know something about the hero and heroine. Sometimes it's their names, sometimes their occupations. I think both happen equally often for me. (Haha, and if I don't know names then in the initial summary I write things like "NAME needs a fresh start in a new town. But she didn't expect danger from her past to follow her there." And then later I go back and fill in the name. Hopefully before I send it to anyone. ;)

2. Once I know something (anything!) I can't usually resist trying to start Chapter 1. This rarely ends up being my final chapter one, as I have this irritating habit of not starting right int he middle of the action. That's okay. I'm sure what I learn in those hundreds of words I end up deleting is worth it.

3. Back to brainstorming. At this point it varies. Today, I decided to brainstorm with pen and paper because that was how my brain was working. I made little notes alllll over several pieces of paper. Other times, I'll start my summary.

4. Summary. I don't know of a nice way to describe my first summary to you. My utter-piece-of-junk summary? That's the best I can do. =) It. Is. HORRIBLE. Awful. Bad beyond description. I sit down at my computer and just type. If I don't know something I usually use capital letters and make a note like PUT HER JOB HERE LATER. Or something like that.

5. Again, it varies. Sometimes I go back and make the summary "pretty" if I'm feeling so inclined. I might attempt a little more of chapter 1. Usually I break up my utter-piece-of-junk summary into the amount of chapters I want the book to have.

6. Then I really start writing. I use my very rough summary to give me a basic outline. I used to be a pure seat-of-the-pants-et. But then I converted. I like having a basic summary to give me something to work with. But I also like that it's not detailed. That way I still have the freedom to write in scenes that I didn't know were coming, or let my characters have conversations that surprise me (and freak out my husband since he says if I make them up nothing they do should surprise me...)

How does a new story work for you? Do you need to talk it out with friends first? Let it simmer in your head for a period of time (days? weeks? months?) Please share! You might have the brilliant idea someone else needs to get a new story started. =)

And also, Merry Christmas!!!


  1. My actual books are generally the result of literal years of research and scheming before I actually start. Ah, yes, the joys of writing historical-fiction.... :)

    I am doing a new project that's different though. I started from scratch with basically no thought and minimal research at this point. It's a historical-fiction novella with a modern twist that spins from the 21st century back to the 1800's. So we will see which method works better for me. :)

  2. This makes me want to go write! Right now. Lol. I usually just start writing on whatever it is (to get a feel for things), then I'll come up a summary. Sometimes after that, I'll come up with a line (usually dialogue) that I hope will encapsulate the theme of the story.