How to Brainstorm Your Next Novel in 8 Easy Steps.

Brain

From my notebook-brainstorming and outlining Everlasting

Hello once again, readers!

So … on Wednesday I will be making my first appearance at a high school as an author. Branford High School to be exact. I am going with a few other authors (including my bestie Sonya Loveday) to discuss the different phases of writing. My topic is the brainstorming phase. I figured I would write here what I plan on saying, that way I get my practice in and have a general idea of what to say.

I’m OCD like that.

Any who, so here are the key points I will be discussing on brainstorming:

  1. Who is your Main Character? The first step is figuring out who you are writing about-the main character. You can’t have a story without one. To start this, I work off a character sheet with standard questions (physical appearance, personality traits, etc.). It’s very important that you figure out who they are and what their back story/driving force is before you enter in to the rough draft phase, because you need to understand their actions and know how they will respond to the tough situations they will be placed in.
  2. Who is the Supporting Character/s? In my line of writing, I lean towards romance, so once I have the main character in mind, I need to figure out who their counterpart will be. I go through the same steps-using the character sheet with questions, and figuring out what their back story.
  3. Who is the Antagonist? You can’t have a hero/heroine without an antagonist (be it a person or a goal they must overcome). So who are they? What do they want? How will they affect the main character’s growth? About this time, I also have a faint plot in mind. At least, what the main goal is, be it a machine they are both after, one needing to stop the other from destroying something, etc.. It’s all vague and I try not to set too many limitations for myself so I have freedom when working through my rough draft.
  4. Family Trees. After I have the most important characters, I try to write out family trees. You could do this step in the character drafting stage, but I like to have all my players out before I get deep into their family web and how they will all twist into one another. This also helps me in developing who my characters are, and sometimes gives me new ideas on how to deepen their back stories. Basically, I want to get as much figured out about the characters as possible before I write.
  5. World Building. When the characters are solid, I move on to world building. I focus on the setting (where the story takes place) and then research that area. It’s good to know everything about the places you are writing in so your descriptions feel real. Google maps is awesome for seeing and walking the streets without actually having to go there.
  6. Research. Because I write in paranormal and fantasy, I also research different types of magic/casting/spells/armor/weapons/supernatural beings. I like to get as many ideas as possible so I can build on what is there and make it my own. Some things though are better left unchanged. Those are things you want to have facts on. You want to have some familiarity for your reader to grasp onto the idea of what you’re writing about, while trying to maintain a fresh POV. Fantasy gives you that freedom.
  7. Plot Structuring. Once I have that all figured out, I start my plot structuring. I am very brief. I don’t even use a plot line. It’s been suggested to me that I should, and it might help, but I believe everyone has their own way of doing things, and even if I make it harder on myself, the discovery of the world you are building is half of the fun when writing. There’s no way to walk into a project knowing every angle/every scene that will transpire, unless you plan chapter by chapter.
  8. Rough Draft. When I have a good understanding of my characters, the world they are in, and the goals and sub-goals they are trying to reach, that is when my brainstorming ends and my writing begins. That’s not to say it ends completely, because I am always tossing ideas in my head. I could be in the middle of a conversation and be thinking about how the next scene I will write should go.

Hopefully these tips help you. They aren’t necessarily right, they are just my way of doing things. Like I said, the important thing is not to limit yourself. If you’re feeling stuck, take a step back and walk through the scene. Think about how you can make it more difficult for your character. What can you throw at them? How can you get them one step closer to personal growth and reaching their goal?

Hopefully I can get this all out in my five-minute timeframe and sound like I have a brain in my head lol. Actually, I’m not worried about meeting the timeframe, I’m worried about getting all nervous-silly and stumbling over my words. I used to be so good with speaking in public, but I seem to be moving backward in that aspect of my abilities.

That being said, I will let you know how it goes and hopefully have some pictures to show for. Wish me luck!

Echelon out ♥

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How To Juggle…Literar-ally…In Five Easy Steps.

404586_303785663062640_671061421_nHello once again, Readers!!! How are you this lovely morning? I am freaking fantastic! I just received the first mock-up for the Embracing the Flames cover! I can’t wait to see the finished product!!! I also found out that the possibility of print is not too far off! It’s in the works!!! *squeal*

But I digress.

With the new year, more opportunities and ideas have flourished. Book three, From the Embers, is almost 50k in! I’m thinking another month or so and I will be ready to start edits! Conventions are being looked at, marketing is being attacked full-force, and another project (the one from NaNo) will be completed!

Wooh!

That’s a lot, right? Sometimes it almost feels impossible or unattainable. But I have a problem with going after the unattainable.

GET TO THE POINT!

Okay! One of the hardest parts of being a writer (I have discovered) is not being patient (because I have mastered that), but finding balance. I have to balance my home life, squeeze in time for writing, and find time to market. That’s barely touching the scope of daily responsibilities and unprepared-for incidents that occur. It’s not an easy task, but it is doable. And I am here to give you the steps you need to help you along!

  1. Find a caffeinated beverage and STICK with it! Yes *raises hand* I am a Red Bull addict, but only because it gives me wings! How else am I supposed to multi-task?
  2. Speaking of multi-tasking, learn to do just that. Plan your days around things you can do simultaneously that will eliminate time misuse. As a fulltime author, it is not just about locking yourself away and writing non-stop. Unless you have a huge marketing team backing you, you have to be sociable and branch out. Meet new people, extend yourself, help others, ect.
  3. Form a routine. For instance, my mornings are spent researching, marketing, answering emails, and eating a granola bar (with a Red Bull). If I can, I squeeze in a blog post too. Mid-afternoons (nap time for my daughter) is where I shut everything off and zone into writing. Roughly two hours worth. Then I have to grab my son from school. I clean, prepare dinner, and try to fit in exercise around this time (late-afternoon). Then I usually finish up my writing and social media stuff and call it a night. It’s not the best, but it keeps me on point and not feeling scattered.
  4. Take a break if you become overwhelmed. Nothing is more thwarting than feeling tired and bummed out. That is your body’s way of telling you to take a break.
  5. Write! No matter what, you must find time to do this. You must devote yourself to it if you want it to happen.

Point is, balance is something you work for, just like everything else. You have to find it. You have to apply it, even when the unexpected happens. Some of you know this and have probably mastered it, and some of you may be like me, searching through piles of laundry, trying to find it. Don’t give up. Some days will be easy and others will be hard. Isn’t that what balance is all about?

Now to leave you with a question: How do you deal with stress and writing?

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Echelon out, Peeps ♥