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So You Think You Want to Commit Novel: the idea

So You Think You Want to Commit Novel: the idea



A lot of people approach me with the line “I have this really cool idea for a book, but I don’t know where to start.”

Since I am now in the throes of writing a first draft, I thought I’d share my process for getting a book from idea to completed draft.  The process is not the same for every person, nor for every book by the same person.  But this is generally how I start.  The book I’m working on, Chicory Up, Pixie Chronicles #2 is under contract.  The book I’m going to tell you about is Thistle Down, Pixie Chronicles #1 which is on my editor’s desk and will probably be published late in 2011.  Writing a second book in a series is very different from the first and subject for a post all on its own.

A couple of years ago Thistle Down woke me up in the middle of the night and wouldn’t let me go back to sleep until she’d wiggled her story into my brain.

Thistle is a Pixie.  But she’s been exiled from her own kind and grown to human size, minus her wings.  Her purple hair and lavender skin have morphed into normal human colors.  Then she was dumped, buck naked into the middle of Memorial Fountain downtown during morning rush hour on a very hot August day.

Come morning I had to write down what she said and figure out some questions for next time she took over my mind.  So I wrote an opening scene, very rough and disjointed, but Thistle walked on stage a complete character and her predicament intrigued me.  By that time I had a few more ideas about who she was and some of the trials and tribulations she’d have to go through to get home.  I wrote those down in a character sketch.

But I was on deadline and couldn’t devote more than a morning to her at that time.

I’d also recently lost my agent and had to produce some new material to submit.  Thistle looked like a way to break into light and fluffy Paranormal Romance.  Or so I thought at the time.

So the idea fermented for a few months until I had time to devote to Thistle.  Over the weeks, a thought would jolt me and I’d add it to the character sketch.

By the time I could actually work with Thistle more than three minutes at a time, I had some fairly complete notes, enough to write the first three chapters.  So I did what I advise others to do:  I applied butt to chair and hands to keyboard and wrote and wrote and wrote until the next scene was no longer obvious.  Low and behold, I had 3 chapters plus a bit more.

As an established author I generally sell on a proposal of 3 chapters and a synopsis.  I was half way to a proposal to submit to agents and editors.

Next week, the dreaded synopsis part of the proposal.

Phyllis Irene Radford is a founding member of Book View Café and blogs here regularly on Thursdays, the same day her cozy mystery “Lacing Up For Murder” by Irene Radford is serialized on the front page rotation.

For more about her and her fiction please visit her bookshelf here on BVC

Or her personal web page


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