The past seven weeks have been a whirlwind. While I am enjoying the success More Than A Memory is experiencing, I really wasn’t prepared for the amount of work that goes into promoting a book.
Coupled with a busy work and family life and there are honestly times when I want to pull the covers over my head and stay in bed all day and let just this one day go by…
Then I remember why I am doing this.
The story within beckons; the characters prod me one at a time that not everyone knows about them. So again, on a day just like today, I throw back the covers and leave my stuffed animal to fend for himself while I use the minutes – sometimes seconds – in between the rest of life’s demands to spread the word as best I can.
I owe Devin and Sera that much.
During these walkabouts, both virtually and physically, I get asked how did I write this novel. From what genesis did I create a story and characters so memorable?
In no particular order as they are all highly important:
Immersion. I felt the character’s turmoil, anger, angst as they would. You can’t interpret it – that is filtering. You must be the conduit. I’ve had conversations with my characters. Do I hear voices? If I am doing it right I do. I see them standing before me, nervous ticks, doing things they are prone to do; they are living, breathing entities. I’ve written a scene and had them tell me it wasn’t how they would have reacted. Their insistence sent me back to change it.
Have a beginning and an end with a lot of ideas to fill the middle. You can’t have a great sandwich without something between the bread.
You need more than a slice of cheese and two pickles otherwise the sandwich will be discarded and forgotten the first time it is picked up. The meat is as important as the bread. Don’t forget that – not more important however. In the interest of instant gratification, the beginning has to hook or you’ve lost half of your readers by page 5. While I stress this I have to admit I don’t let it drive my story away from what I intend it to do, what they want it to do. The prologue of More Than A Memory was intended to create a slow burn, enough to get the reader curious, because I knew the subsequent chapter would be spent laying the foundation of a twisting turning story to come.
That said, I approach a new novel with pages and pages of notes and ideas – things that I don’t even intend to have happen a hundred or so pages from now. They don’t all make it in, but I don’t strike down a good idea because I’m not ready for it yet.
Don’t force a story down a path it was never meant to go. You’re invested in these characters. You have a goal you want to accomplish with them.
Never lose sight of that as the words appear one by one from your fingertips; keep this not in the back of your mind, but in the front, as you create. If the idea is strong enough, take it there, but don’t fully commit – releasing all that was planned before – until you know it will still get you to the other side of the sandwich, the bookend piece of bread. If you find yourself bending timelines or showing square pegs into round holes, let it go. No matter how far off the beaten path you’ve gotten. Find your way back and continue on as intended. Save the knowledge of the way that didn’t work. It just could be your sequel.
Find what inspires you.
Let it be the epicenter from which the tale pours forth and the rest will fall into place.