Things I Learned for Next Time
I’m sure I’ll be tinkering with Goddess of the Hunt up until the point it’s (I say with unbridled optimism) published – but, for the moment, I feel I can call it ‘finished.’ With some painful cutting, I got it down to about 101,000 words, and I’m starting the query process and thinking about my next novel.
So now that I’ve ‘finished’ one novel, I’ve learned some big lessons about making my next book better and less painful to write. Not that these would be helpful to everyone. A big part of it has been learning what works for me, and what suits my own style best. But as a reminder to myself and just in case it’s interesting to anyone else, here are a few.
- I’m not a pantser. I need to start with a general outline of the plot. I fully expect it to change over the course of writing the book, but I have to begin writing with a destination in mind, or I’ll just founder aimlessly.
- Whatever plot I outline should be vetted by several critique partners before I even begin. I’m lucky enough to have extraordinarily clever CPs who will find all the loopholes in my internal logic and also weigh the story’s emotional integrity. Soliciting their opinions and answering their questions is how a vague idea becomes a fleshed-out plot.
- I will crystallize the “high concept” and “hook” before I write the darn book. I did that back-asswards this time, and it’s been a pain.
- The most important question to answer before I start the book is not “how do these people fall in love,” but “why do these people fall in love?” I blogged once a while back that I wanted my readers to fall in love with the couple, not the hero, and that means I need to create a h/h who fit together like puzzle pieces. What is it that the hero does for the heroine that no one else could possibly do? How does she realize that? What makes her decide that it’s more important than anything or anyone else in her life? And vice versa, from the hero’s POV. I don’t think I can craft an emotionally satisfying story without answering all those questions first.
How about you? What lesson did you learn or are you learning from your first project that you’ll be sure to heed in the future?