A strange thing happened while…driving to work one day. A lusty fantasy seized my brain, taking over as co-pilot. Before I knew it, a parking lot and my intended destination appeared. Scary, right? Imagine how I felt? My common sense had just taken an unannounced vacation. I thanked the high heavens no one had been hurt and I’d arrived safe and somewhat sound.
The next seventy-two hours weren’t much better. Having learned my lesson the previous day, I retained complete control behind the wheel. Not used to this odd phenomenon though, I didn’t know how to handle the consuming thoughts taking over my brain. Work and home had been put on hold. Food and sleep didn’t exist. Adrenaline rushes fueled me, but sustenance came from the ever-evolving tale, living and breathing in me.
After three days of manic preoccupation, I surrendered to the surging ideas, picked up my laptop and typed, and typed, and typed. The frantic-forming romance story continued steadily for three months. At that point, feedback became a necessity and the great race for an editor began.
Connections made, feedback gathered—multiple times, and mega-money spent, I entered a zone often termed as, “hitting a wall.” As a newbie writer, the “wall” related to: 1) my writing style and 2) the genre. I discovered, being an avid romance reader did not equate to writing it. Almost simultaneously, I did two things: enrolled in writing workshops and joined an online writing group.
The result—a newbie author’s first impressions of writing a novel…
A tortoise and hare race to the finish
I started out the hare, but ended up the tortoise. At first the ideas were so rampant I felt compelled to write fast. One year and three months later, being the tortoise was much better. Writing was an emotional process. My mood impacted what I wrote. When I went back days, weeks, or months later and reread, I didn’t like a large portion. The tortoise approach gave me ample time to gain perspective, develop clear character viewpoints, and add depth, emotion, and conflict to the max. The biggest benefit—my writing style improved each and every time.
The beginning is the end and the end is the beginning
Oh, what a twisted, tangled web…confused? Right answer. Writing is a convoluted, passive-aggressive process that can send an author on a wild goose chase. Each interaction with the characters, plot, and conflict took me on a unique journey. When I began writing, the middle and end wasn’t quite clear. When I thought the story was finished, it wasn’t. The editing and revising seemed to go on forever, leading me to hire an editor way too soon. A costly error, doing damage to my bank account and my ego. If not for my persistent, strong personality I might not have continued, finishing the story became a personal challenge.
Writing my first novel beat me down, ate me up, and spit me into an overflowing cesspool of competing ideas.
But, it did not best me.
Note to ego: shut up!
Imagine standing in a stadium filled to capacity—bare and fully exposed. Sharing my writing felt exactly like that. The good news, the more others read, critiqued, or provided feedback the easier it became. The bad news, my ego could only take so much. Everyone had an opinion and it became difficult to determine which advice to follow. I’m still working on that, but the individuals that stuck with my story from the beginning and had a good sense of the plot and characters were the ones I focused on.
In the end, turning off my ego and turning on all my senses helped the most.
- Seeing: The big and little picture. Look at all aspects, most importantly the genre characteristics.
- Hearing: Listen to critiques and apply feedback that makes a positive impact on the story.
- Speaking: To other writers and learn from experience. Writing can be a solitary process, but it doesn’t have to be. Online writing workshops are quite economical. An abundance of writer blogs exist and are free. I began with Romance Writers of America and searched the events section. Contests, conferences, and online workshops provided access to writing professionals and became an excellent source for additional feedback. Identify genre specific national/international organizations and select meaningful methods that benefit current needs. For instance, having trouble with character development? Seek workshops or blog articles focusing on that element. Professional resources can also motivate, inspire, and patch up a bruised ego.
- Touching: Pick up a favorite book in the same genre. Now switch perspectives, from reader to writer. Analyze word choice, descriptions, sentence structure, pace, etc.
Compare your writing style to the authors and ask the following questions.
- How did the author bring the story to life?
- What did I like about the storytelling technique (i.e., writing style, plot, characters, etc.)?
- What didn’t I like?
- What techniques will make what I’ve written so far, better?
Through the revision process, I ended up beating my head against the wall. When that happened, I picked up my favorite romance novel or two and reread it, either in entirety or excerpts. It cushioned the blow and pulled me out of a difficult situation more than once. Decision making appeared easier and the mental clarity increased momentum, improved productivity, and preserved the well-being of the story.
Possession is 9/10ths of the law
Beware! The characters conspire and enforce the law. The object they want—you. They could care less about your schedule, whether you’re designated for car pool, have chores piling up, or if you want to relax. Remember my semi-conscious route to work? If the police would have pulled me over for erratic driving, my plea bargain would have been—the pesky characters made me do it.
After the initial shock, I permitted the possession which happened regardless of time or place. My greatest fear if I didn’t allow it—the story would vanish. Diverting every effort to the character’s murmurs and getting them on paper became the priority. And I’m so glad I did.
Automatic membership: Insomniacs ‘R Us
I jumped in full steam ahead which resulted in quite a bit of sleep loss. The temporary insanity though, gave me an opportunity to explore a creative side I didn’t know existed. Reality eventually reeled me back to a conscious state, reintroducing the living and every day responsibilities. Embracing the newfound outlet provided a breath of fresh air. It broke up the monotony that set in from doing the same thing day in and day out. I felt rejuvenated, not exhausted.
The dosage and prescription is…three times a day
How often should I write? I didn’t set a schedule or get upset if something else came up. Without a self-imposed deadline I enjoyed the process much more. Granted, if writing for a living is the goal, a schedule would be needed. Determine personal or professional goals and a time frame to accomplish them.
Wish upon a star, then make it come true
The big finish—publishing. Many in the industry debate the best or most professional method: self-publishing or traditional. Reexamine initial goals and select an avenue that makes the wish come true. How to determine that? Hmm…that is the million dollar question. In my professional and personal life I prevailed mostly on instinct. Trial and error, hard knock decisions produced “lessons to learn from.” I view publishing the same—50/50 chance. Common sense, gut feelings, superstitions, an inner voice, whatever instinct you rely on, remember success doesn’t come from a lack of effort. The challenge isn’t over when the novel is written, it’s just beginning.
C.C. Koen flirts with writing and loves reading romance, mystery and suspense. An educator for over twenty years, she has been bitten by the creative writing bug and enjoys exploring the “right” brain she never knew existed. She hopes to inspire, motivate, and lead others to the wonderful world of writing through the stories she creates.
Her debut novel INTENSITY will be available at Amazon and other retailers, October 2014.
Twenty-one-year-old Serena Thomas is faced with a tough decision. Unable to get ahead of debt and loneliness since her grandmother’s death she finds a new job, placing the sheltered virgin in an underground escort business. She tells herself it’s just a temporary life choice, but destiny has a different plan. She meets a mysterious and gorgeous man, who happens to be her new boss. Will Serena fit in or will she be left all alone again?
Lincoln (aka: Linc) Jefferson has an unusual life. He established The Lounge, an exclusive escort club for very personal reasons. A place where the women say who, when, and what type of sex they’re willing to have. The escorts possess all the power and the money. It’s a business Linc guards at all costs. Trying to maintain the secrecy is a constant challenge and one that’s tested when he enters into a relationship with Serena. She tempts him unlike any woman, even though he’s surrounded by beauty on a daily basis. The more time they spend together the harder it is for him to keep his secrets. Will Serena stand by his side or will she abandon him?
Sparks and passion fly, taking these two on a journey neither could have expected.
COMING SOON TO AMAZON!