Monday, August 17, 2009

Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow

Well, it's over. I've submitted Luke and Emily's book (Absolution), and it's time to say goodbye to my beloved cast of characters. I'll still get to visit them in the last two books as I go through the edits and galleys, but it won't be the same. Apart from feeling relief that this first series is over, it's left me a bit on the blue side. Luke is my favorite of all the characters, which is why I chose to write his book last, and I miss him already. I seem to identify most strongly with my heroes for some reason, and have an easier time getting into their head space.

On the plus side, this is the fastest I've ever completed a book. For Absolution, I sat down and plotted out the entire thing before starting the draft. This took a lot of discipline for me, as I was totally revved and ready to rock once I finished book four. But I knew darn well if I jumped in without planning out the details that I'd wind up stuck partway through and then spin my wheels for weeks trying to slog through the plot line. So I mapped out every important plot point and decided what order they should come in, then wrote a detailed outline. Not only did this make the drafting phase faster (I whipped the 93k words off in less than three months, which is darn near miraculous with my two little guys around all day), I also had the bones for a synopsis already written out. All I had to do once I gave the MS a final polish was go back and tighten the outline down to the most important turning points, etc, and voila--I had a finished MS with a synopsis. Now that's the way to write a book! I knew I'd figure it out sooner or later. Granted it was the fifth and final book, but still.

Writing with a full outline streamlined the entire process and made that painful first draft much more bearable. For me, a first draft is kind of like hacking my way through a jungle with a machete. It's hard, grueling work and you just have to put your head down and do it. I know most writers discourage this, but I like to go back and re-read the most recent scene I've written before I go on to something else, just so it's smoothed out. Otherwise I go nuts having something that raw on the page. The initial effort at getting the story down is always the worst. Going back and tweaking/fixing it is always easier, which is probably why I love revisions so much. The story and the writing get stronger with each pass.

Now that I've said goodbye to Luke, Emily, Bryn, Dec, Rhys, Neveah, Ben, Sam, Rayne and Christa, I'm off onto another series. This one's going to feature some female aviators and their male special operations counterparts. I'm doing some initial research right now and trying to figure out how to tie the romance plot lines and suspense together.

And the gang from the first series? I might come back for a short visit somewhere along the way if I miss them too much and write a short story I've got in mind. We'll see. But for now, I've got to figure out exactly where I'm going with this next book and write out a detailed outline. It might seem hard at the time, but I know it's going to save me a lot of headaches down the road.

Any great ideas you guys have for plotting/outlining that you want to share?


Mary Ricksen said...

Maybe I should look into plotting and at least give it a try.

Kaylea Cross said...

Mary, plotting did make all the difference with this one. You can always change things as you go, but at least you'll have a firm destination in mind when you start. It's the middle that tends to bog me down the most, and with this latest book, I didn't have a problem with it at all. It's so refreshing!

Katie Reus said...

Luke is my favorite too *g*. I can't wait to hold his book in my hand!