I’m currently working on various characters, their backstories and several scenes for my first novel. Here’s my first update, for those of you who said you were interested in hearing about my process 🙂
(Blog) Karen’s Update: Jan 26, 2021
As I first sat down with the intention of kicking-off the “Read Karen’s Stories” page on this site, I found that several scenes and their characters seemed to want their stories written here.
Initially, I’d intended that my new website, launching early 2021, would have 3 mini-scenes fleshed out to be posted on this ‘page’. Each would be posted over the course of a few months after this site went live. I’d felt it possible that some, or all, of these might have to be split into several posts depending on their length. Overall, I’d wanted to keep things a bit loose, keep it light… and not feel too tightly wound about meeting any goals or deadlines I set for this page (so I could enjoy the process and let it evolve). I then planned to add a few more scenes/backstories/etc. over the 4-6 months that followed… before pulling them all down so I could move into the next phase where I step back and can freely build out my novel.
Where I am now: My initial process for the stories on this website, was to create a loose ‘concept’ for each mini-scene: with characters, some action, aligned to the novel’s overall plot, its universe, style and tone. I planned to later see what else unfolded, what felt right as next steps for the story, what might belong in the novel, what might be better as backstory/off screen, what might be right for this page as a story… and then move forward to flesh things out further.
I sat down with my intention firmly set. (A reminder, I wanted three strong concepts. My target was clear: identify one concept each day over three days).
With a tea in hand and Spotify’s ‘Happy Beats’ playlist on in the background, I began to outline my first three mini-scenes. Here’s how it went for me:
– Each day, for three days in a row, I sat down to work. (Yes, at about the same time each day, as that worked for my schedule).
– With my laptop ready, and a Word file open, I first centred myself, consciously set my intention, and then consciously detached from the outcome (whatever might arise)…
– I then went on to ask myself what the concept for the scene could be. And, to my delight, I found that a new scene quickly popped into my mind. For me, each scene came in as a set of thoughts/words/sentences augmented by several brief images that helped the mini-scene come to life.
– I rolled each concept around in my mind for a few moments, looking at it from a few angles… and then started typing.
– I found that I was able to quite easily capture the essence of each concept, along with a few key elements. For each concept, I sketched out the concept a bit more, teasing out a few threads to the concept that made sense, typing with a sense of ‘just flow’ (using free-thinking/free-writing). Typically this stage took me about an hour or two for each concept.
I then paused. The purpose was to allow some days to pass, let the ideas germinate in my subconscious, and then come back with a fresh perspective and new eyes. This was so I could test if the concepts were solid. Consider: Did they hang together. Did they work and make sense in context of the universe the novel was in.
I found they did. So, I moved onto my next stage.
– I picked the first mini-scene back up, grabbed a coffee, put on some good music to keep the vibes positive and light around me. And went to work on it. Or should I say “play”? Yes, I think that better represents my approach: I went to ‘play’ with it. [This positive attitude helps me stay open, light, and not get as hyper critical. That critical mind can get involved closer to the edit stage!]
Honestly, it has taken longer than I thought it would.
Why? Well, I’m finding that the more I write about the seed I started with, the more I realize this first character that I thought was possibly a secondary character (on the story boundaries) could well play a key role later in the novel. Or even have their own complete 2nd novel based around them.
What has added time? Well, I’ve created some plot points, background/backstory, identified one of their key issues, created a crisis, fleshed out more of who they were before they arrived in our first scene, clarified their motivations, built out their character structure more… and even identified their key nemesis.
We’ll see if any of that needs to actually be in the novel or not. That will be down the track. What I quickly realized, and what I see now as crucial, is that I needed all of that ‘extra’. It will help me to be able to write, what I hope and plan to be, an interesting character in an interesting scene (at least part of which you’ll soon see on this site). Hopefully, this time that I’ve spent, will mean you’ll be able to enjoy a more rich and nuanced character (if I weave it in right!).
After doing all that, I then revisited the scene I’d been writing, changed my Point of View of the scene, and tweaked the voice to be more active.
I then began building out a more full-some draft (sipping several teas and coffees along the way).
And this is just the start.
I’ll carry on refining it, this first ‘good’ draft of the scene you’ll see next post… (and after each scene is eventually taken down, I know I’ll keep working to improve them further before inserting any aspect of them into a novel).
Now, for those of you who’ve asked…
Already, in this process I’ve had several key learnings. I’ve let myself realize:
- that my best approach is to remember that for this stage of the process “75%” IS good enough (‘I let go of perfection’ <- words in quotes in this bullet list are examples of the types of positive belief statements I regularly use, included here as some people have asked about them)
- that names may change as the novel’s plot evolves (‘I do not get hung up unnecessarily’ and ‘I let go of unnecessary details until they are needed’)
- that I need to continue to stay patient and feel the flow (‘I flow easily with the process’), and
- that I should NOT be too deadline driven as the creative process unfolds for me, so I can enjoy it (‘I stay focussed on the outcome while flowing effortlessly with the process’, ‘I enjoy the process’ and ‘I am grateful this session has been productive’).
So, that’s my process so far. That’s where I am up to, now, as I write this update for you… with a target to finalize the first part of “Scene 1” in the next days. We’ll see how it goes!
I’ll post a few more updates like this along the way. You’ll know them by the visual image of the post (see above: “girl clearly on an adventure, looking at map”. Do I need to say more? No, you get the picture? Great!).
So, you can either stay connected to my process by reading these updates… or skip them, completely guilt-free! I know how busy we all can get. 🙂
Recap: Our journey’s start
Where I’ve landed now, is that the first few posts I release on this page will introduce us to a key character who will play a leading role in the novel, along with other characters facing challenges of one sort or another.
I can’t say yet whether these posts will be fully included in the final novel, provide backstory for a character (or a few), or if they may simply be supplemental scenes to help me develop my key characters, and the world they live in.
I can say they are all a part of the novel’s main universe. And, I’ll share them here in hopes of entertaining you. I hope you enjoy.
Please be patient as I work through this process. I’ll share aspects of my personal adventure if it feels like they may be interesting to some of you.
So, please stay tuned… the first 4 (*yup, four) scenes are in-flight and will be posted when I think they’re ready (i.e. worthy of your time).
**Please excuse minor grammatical errors on this page. I want to keep this ‘blog’ update approach more casual (aka relaxed/informal)**