Friday, March 14, 2008

Writing a New Book

With my first book out of my hands for the time being, I've been pouring all my energies into creating Book 2. It will be interesting to see if my writing process differs this time. The Measure of Silence was written over more than a few years, in moments stolen here and there between writing and defending a dissertation and raising three children. I don't have the luxury of unlimited time for Book 2; once TMOS sells, I'll only have about a year, at most two, to submit my next manuscript.

I'm the type of writer who needs to know where I'm going before I begin. I work backwards, not in terms of the actual writing, but while plotting. I decide on the end and figure out how to get there in a given number of chapters. Although I don't write a formal outline, I do write brief chapter summaries, deciding in advance what has to happen in each chapter in order to reach the dénouement I foresee. These summaries help me keep track of the various plot lines and regulate the pacing of the book.

I'm sure "pantsters"--writers who write without a pre-conceived plan, who follow the lead of their characters and "make it up as they go along"--cringe when they read that. "Where's the creativity? What fun is it to write a chapter if you already know what happens in it?" But that's exactly where the fun does lie--in figuring out how to fit the pieces together in order to achieve the desired result. Although I know what needs to happen in a given chapter, I don't necessarily know how it happens as I set out to write it. I'm usually surprised at what characters will say or do or how details dovetail. And of course, I consider these summaries very fluid--if I stumble across a good idea while writing one chapter, I modify and change the subsequent summaries to accommodate it.

Plotting my second book is proving to be a bit more challenging than it was for the first. This time, I am building a story around actual historical events; I am trying to tie the individual story arcs of the main characters to the broader stage of the emerging nation. I'm not quite there yet, but I'm close. I'm excited to be working with this new cast of characters and intrigued by the nuggets of story they've presented. For now I'm still trying to fit the givens together; soon I'll be busy fleshing out the details and watching the novel grow chapter by chapter.


Anonymous said...

I can hear the excitement in your "voice" Hang in there, It's gotta be easier this time, at least you don't have the disertation to contend with :) Hope all your dovetails fall into place!!!

Julianne Douglas said...

Thanks for the good wishes, Renee! I am very excited about the new book, though it is kind of scary moving on to something else after TMOS was part of my life for so long.