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my writing process

Some of you have been asking me how I write. Do I plot all my books out on sticky notes and spreadsheets? Do I sit down with a pencil and paper and hope for the best? I wish there was a simple answer to these questions. Basically, every book I write is different. Generally, I start with an idea that pops into my head. With Lingerie Wars, it was "wouldn't it be really funny if a macho military guy inherited a lingerie shop and had to make it work?" From there, I sat down with a spreadsheet and planned the scenes I wanted to include - then I pretty much wrote something else entirely! That's when I realized that I'm a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants type writer (or a pantser, if you want the industry lingo ;))

I realized quite early on in my writing that the reason plotting and planning didn't work for me, was because my characters took over and did what suited them. Some writers can plot a book and then develop characters that fit their story. I can't. My characters appear fully formed at the same time a book idea hits me, and they come with their own ideas about what they should and shouldn't do. I try to make each character different from the others and genuine in how they think and react. Then I put them in a situation and try to figure out what they would do with it. From there, the story follows them.

So, basically, this is what my writing process looks like:

Also, even though the diagram has first, second and third drafts, those don't really happen either! Or, more correctly, they happen at the same time. I'm constantly changing chapters and redirecting the work, basically editing as I go, that means by the time I have an actual finished story, it's pretty much ready to go to my editor.

On a final note, I wish I was able to plot out my books! I imagine it would be a much more civilized process. Instead, I get inside my characters heads and live as them for weeks/months at a time. It can be a little distracting. And might be the reason I often drive to places I don't intend to go! But overall, I see my writing process as a fusion of things. Plot, character, scene, tension, resolution - these things aren't separate, they're all intertwined. All inherently dependent on each other and it's impossible for me to pull one thread out and plan it in advance. All I can do, is put the situation to my characters and see what they do. Hopefully, they're savvy enough to sort out everything by the end of the book - otherwise, we're all in trouble!


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