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Other Beginnings . . . Say, Like a Book

Right now I am starting a new book.  I have the go ahead from the Powers in New York, and I’m itching to start writing again.  I haven’t written a word since the first part of April when I turned my last book in–well other than the proposal for the next one and the blog entries here and on my other blog, Knit the Stash.  Oh, and the content for my new website.  So perhaps I have been writing, just not on a book. 

But anyhoo, I thought I would share the process with you and if you are just starting a book or have thought about starting one, we could have a write-along. 

My process of writing a book works for me (usually) and, like many other writers, is filled with the little rituals and trials and benchmarks that move me from Page 1 to The End.  In a nutshell, I’m going to walk you though the prep work (which I’ll start talking about today), the notebook, the pre-writing I like to do, extra research, working out our writing schedule (or as we call it in our house, THE PLAN), the actual writing, revisions, and then the celebration when it is done in December.  Yes, December.  So if you are game, let’s get started. 

I actually like starting a new book.  I have this entire ritual about getting a book going.  First and foremost, I get a composition notebook out and ready.  Comp NotebookI started using lined composition notebooks a few books back and I love them.  I used to keep all my notes on notecards, but discovered that I like having the notebook for my WIP because it is easier to carry around than a bunch of loose 4×6 cards.  With all your notes in one place, you always know where to look for that idea you had for Chapter 7.

So that is your first assignment.  Get a composition notebook.  You can find these at Staples or even your local RiteAid or Target.  Grab one, and all you have to do for now is put a working title on the front (Mine is When A Star Falls), then write your name and email on the inside cover.

Inside this book will go every bit of notes, research, character ideas, names, pre-writing, plotting, scene notes, dialogue bits, revision notes, and anything else that you need to remember about your story or characters.  So make friends with your composition book.  It will be your new BFF for the next few months.  Inside those pristine pages will go your scattered thoughts, moments of brilliance, and if you are like me, highligher and lots of red pen as I scratch out things that aren’t working and begin brainstorming for a new ideas.  But all that anxiety can wait for the future, say like September, when our Deadline starts looming in the near horizon.  Right now the book is new and shiny and perfect.  And don’t let anyone point out that is because you haven’t written a single word.

Whew!  After all that work, all this anticipation of the words to come, I think I need a latte.  Besides, I need to get geared up for making The Notebook. 

So what is your working title?  How do you like to start planning your writing project?

11 comments to “Other Beginnings . . . Say, Like a Book”

  1. Kathryn Smith
    June 6th, 2007 at 8:10 am · Link

    Hi, Elizbo! I usually have a binder for each book, divided into sections like ‘characters’ and ‘plot’ where I keep pictures and scribbled pages. For a series I have a large binder so that I can keep any info for continuity together.

    I also keep a box of note cards by my computer for fast reference.

    Like you, I looooove the ritual of preparing for a new book. I print off pages to fill in with character info, setting, even word count stuff. Some of it never gets totally filled in, but it’s part of the process for me.

  2. Kalen Hughes
    June 6th, 2007 at 9:12 am · Link

    Ok, I suck. I have to ritual. I have no notebook. I have no character sheets, no GMC charts or grids. Crap. I’m just starting a new book, and I’m going to play along with your method and see where it gets me. It can’t hurt, can it? *grin*

    I’ll buy a notebook at lunch. Title : LORD RUIN.

  3. Helen
    June 6th, 2007 at 1:43 pm · Link

    I am really going to enjoy this I am not a writer but am an avid reader to see this full process from start thru to the end and all the hard work you authors put into each book so as we readers can spend hours lost in another era is wonderful.Thanks
    Have Fun

  4. Patty
    June 6th, 2007 at 8:35 pm · Link

    Finally…I have been wanting someone to walk me through the first time (like starting kindergarden) since none of my methods have gotten me anywhere. Too scattered. Thanks for doing this. Can’t wait to celebrate the end of the year with a finished WIP.

  5. AndreaW
    June 7th, 2007 at 9:19 am · Link

    Very cool! I’m going to enjoy the ride with you, Elizbo! 🙂

  6. Shelly S.
    June 7th, 2007 at 1:10 pm · Link

    Well, EB, I love your books, so whatever you are doing must be working! I’m game. Since I am currently battling the dreaded Writer’s Block, and can’t seem to get started on Heavensent, your challenge is, indeed, propitious. Wish me luck!

  7. Keira Soleore
    June 7th, 2007 at 10:50 pm · Link

    Elizbo, I just found out about your site, and this fabulous idea of yours!!!

    I started my third project on Monday and am working on a detailed outline right now. My current working plan will make it so that I will finish mid-November, so this seems to jive at least time-wise with your December deadline. Would it be OK with you if I as an aspiring writer writes/tags along with you?

    Composition book: pink, business card pasted

    Working title: As the Page Turns

  8. Crystal
    June 8th, 2007 at 10:30 am · Link

    I love your idea for this blog. I can’t wait to follow along.

  9. Patti
    June 9th, 2007 at 3:39 am · Link

    Thanks for sharing your journey with us! I can’t wait to follow along and (hopefully) keep up!

  10. Elizabeth
    June 9th, 2007 at 9:29 pm · Link

    Keira, of course you can join in!!! the point is for everyone to join in. From folks who are multipublished to someone opening the first page on their first book. The journey is the same–it starts with page 1.

  11. Angela
    June 10th, 2007 at 3:17 pm · Link

    This is exactly my method. I’d dithered about a while thinking I was a hack for needing to pre-write the entire story when I see a lot of my favorite authors extolling the delights of being a panster, but I can’t work that way–my mind is very analytical so I must see it all before I can fix it. I have these mini-notebooks I bought a long time ago and am pre-writing my WIP in it and am just committing myself to writing as long as I can and then some every day–no excuses.

    And I have no clue what the title is…it’s set in 1899 Scottish Highlands, but is an anti-Scottish historical.

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