The Writing Process

Anne here, and today I'm responding to the questions asked by wenchly reader Constance, who said…  MorningPages
I’m a process person, so I am always interested in the blog posts in which a Wench refers to what she’s doing to prepare for or finish a book. I’d like to hear more about how ideas are first turned into plans (outlines? Story boards? Cocktail napkins?) for future work. And, perhaps particularly, when do you know a story will become a series?

Constance, for me, it varies. I wish I had a foolproof process by which I smoothly and reliably produced a book, but I don't. Each time, I struggle and it's a different struggle every time. And messy. But I can walk you though what I do, more or less. But be warned — it's not quite as pretty as in that pic above. Here be dragons. Or eels.  

I'll start with this question as it's the easiest. When do you know a story will become a series? 

PerfectRake45kbMy first 4 published books were stand alone, unconnected stories, and so when I offered my fifth book to Berkley I'd written it as a stand-alone, without any thought of a series. My heroine was the plain older sister of 4 beautiful girls, and when they bought the book, the first thing the editor asked me was "Which sister is next?" I was shocked. Honestly, it had never occurred to me that they might want a series. So then I had to come up with three more books (Yes, I can count — I married two of them off in the first book.)

So now the series is part of the proposal. When I'm starting a new series, I write a series proposal, with a vague description of where I think each book might go.

How are ideas first turned into plans?

1) Getting ideas:  Ideas come to me all the time, often at inconvenient moments, like when I'm about to fall asleep, or at dawn, when I'm in a half-waking dream state. I've learned to scribble them down in a notebook I keep by the bed.

A lot of writers will tell you that this is a waste of time, that if an idea is worth pursuing it will stay in your head and nag you until you write it. And this is, to some extent true. Some of my books lurked in my brain for years until I wrote them, and there are more still gently nagging to be written.

But many's the time I've allowed myself to drift off to sleep, certain I'll remember the idea in the morning —because it was such a brilliant idea. And in the morning, all I can remember is that it was the Best Idea Ever — and I've completely forgotten it. So I save myself the frustration and half-asleep or not, I write it down. In notebooks, on the back of envelopes and yes— sometimes on a cocktail napkin.

As more thoughts come about a particular story idea, I note them down. Sometimes it's just a matter of jotting down a few points or possibilities, and with any luck, when I come to write a story I'll have a bunch of scenes written, dialogue and all — though it's rough draft at this stage. Scenes from any part of the book — opening, black moment, whatever. They may or may not get used. 

2) Turning ideas into plans: Method 1— writing the proposal

When I was first published, I just used to think of a story and write it and then they'd contract the book. These days my publisher contracts me before I write, so I have to send in a proposal before writing. I find it difficult because I usually discover the story as I write it,  but writing the proposal helps me get a clearer idea of the shape of the story.

Sometime I try the "invisible ink" style of storytelling, as outlined by Brian McDonald in his book Invisible Ink. It's also the system used by Pixar. The idea is that you finish the sentences and the resulting product conforms (more or less) to the three act story structure. SpringBride

Once upon a time. . .
And every day. . .
Until one day . . 
And because of this . . .

And because of this . . .
Until finally . . .
And ever since that day . . .

Here's how I used this to help me write the proposal for The Spring Bride.  Please note — anyone who's read that story will see that  there's some difference between the proposal and the final story. That's what happens.

Invisible Ink & the Spring Bride

1) Once upon a time there was a beautiful girl who was afraid to fall in love. 

2) And every day she told herself that she was being sensible and practical and that, like other girls of her time, she could view marriage as a business.

3) Until one day she met a dark and dangerous gypsy in a dirty London alley and they rescued a dog together. But he (the gypsy) is all kinds of unsuitable. (So is the dog, but that doesn't matter.)

4) And because of this, when he (the gypsy, not the dog) pursued her she rejected him and avoided him and tried (not very successfully) to have nothing to do with him. And even though she was strongly attracted to him, she told herself all the reasons why she should not, could not, would not fall in love with him.

5) And because of this he pursues her with more determination and enters society when he should be lying low (waiting until he can prove he's innocent of murdering his stepmother). He is recognized and is arrested for murder. 

6) Until finally she decides to help him and travels to Wales to find the woman he's accused of murdering. She finds her, convinces her to come to London, and he is declared innocent. 

7) And ever since that day the girl was not afraid any more – not of falling in love, not of anything. She'd rescued him, and in the process rescued herself. And the gypsy turned into a prince — well, an earl — not a pumpkin! And they lived happily ever after. 

Of course this was not the full proposal — but it gave me the basis, and I was able to flesh it out with the things my editor needs to know — like why Jane was afraid to fall in love.

My editor rarely comments on the proposal — except to say she likes it. But she knows it's a "best guess" and the final story might be a little different. It's very much up to me, though I suppose if she thought there might be a problem, she'd probably mention it. 

StolenPrincessCollage3) Turning ideas into plans: Method 2 — The collage method.
For a number of my books I made a story collage. It's a process where you collect images and group them together, just feeding the muse with story possibilities. It's not planning as much as pondering — it's all fairly instrinctive, and there's no structure involved. But it's fun, and just looking at it helps me plunge into that story world.

Here's my collage for The Stolen Princess.

4) Turning ideas into plans: Method 3 — the sticky note method.

  In this more messy system, I write down scenes and scene possibilities on little sticky notes and arrange them on a board. I might start off with a dozen or so notes (each one a scene) and lots of gaps in between. And as the story spins, and I write more, the ideas keep coming, and I fill out more sticky notes. Plotting

By the time my deadline is looming, I know where the story is heading and I'll sometimes rip off each sticky note as I write it, and know exactly what I still have to write.

5) Turning ideas into plans: Method 4 — Just write it. Write, rewrite, draft, redraft, panic, fret, write, read, have my computer read bits back to me, write some more, read, write, fret, and keep going until it's finished.

Usually by the end of the book I have no idea if it's any good or not, and so I wait with bated breth for my editor to get back to me.

So there it is, my process, more or less, messy, imperfect and inconsistent. And probably much more about it than you wanted to know. 
Constance, thank you for your questions. For sending them in to the wenches, you've won one of my books — your choice. Could you please contact me privately to arrange it.

And wenchly readers, what about you: did any of this surprise you? Feel free to ask further questions in the comments — I'll do my best to answer them.
Or if you'd prefer to comment on series — do you prefer books to be in series? How long is too long for a series? What are some of your favorite series?

170 thoughts on “The Writing Process”

  1. I’m very fond of series, and love finding a trilogy (or more) new to me so I can binge read. Most authors I regularly read, in both mystery and romance, write books that are either part of a series or connected in some way.

    Reply
  2. I’m very fond of series, and love finding a trilogy (or more) new to me so I can binge read. Most authors I regularly read, in both mystery and romance, write books that are either part of a series or connected in some way.

    Reply
  3. I’m very fond of series, and love finding a trilogy (or more) new to me so I can binge read. Most authors I regularly read, in both mystery and romance, write books that are either part of a series or connected in some way.

    Reply
  4. I’m very fond of series, and love finding a trilogy (or more) new to me so I can binge read. Most authors I regularly read, in both mystery and romance, write books that are either part of a series or connected in some way.

    Reply
  5. I’m very fond of series, and love finding a trilogy (or more) new to me so I can binge read. Most authors I regularly read, in both mystery and romance, write books that are either part of a series or connected in some way.

    Reply
  6. Thanks for the insight into your writing process. I imagine the process is different for different authors. I’m just grateful for all of you and the wonderful stories you produce. So much enjoyment.
    As for series, I do enjoy them, as long as I am aware that the book is in a series so that I can begin at the beginning of said series. It can sometimes be confusing if you are not aware of that. When I first retired I took up reading for pure enjoyment again. I found a book at the library by Mary Balogh called SIMPLY LOVE. I didn’t realize it was from the middle of series that also even had characters from a previous series in it. I absolutely LOVED the book. But I couldn’t believe how many side characters it had (smile).

    Reply
  7. Thanks for the insight into your writing process. I imagine the process is different for different authors. I’m just grateful for all of you and the wonderful stories you produce. So much enjoyment.
    As for series, I do enjoy them, as long as I am aware that the book is in a series so that I can begin at the beginning of said series. It can sometimes be confusing if you are not aware of that. When I first retired I took up reading for pure enjoyment again. I found a book at the library by Mary Balogh called SIMPLY LOVE. I didn’t realize it was from the middle of series that also even had characters from a previous series in it. I absolutely LOVED the book. But I couldn’t believe how many side characters it had (smile).

    Reply
  8. Thanks for the insight into your writing process. I imagine the process is different for different authors. I’m just grateful for all of you and the wonderful stories you produce. So much enjoyment.
    As for series, I do enjoy them, as long as I am aware that the book is in a series so that I can begin at the beginning of said series. It can sometimes be confusing if you are not aware of that. When I first retired I took up reading for pure enjoyment again. I found a book at the library by Mary Balogh called SIMPLY LOVE. I didn’t realize it was from the middle of series that also even had characters from a previous series in it. I absolutely LOVED the book. But I couldn’t believe how many side characters it had (smile).

    Reply
  9. Thanks for the insight into your writing process. I imagine the process is different for different authors. I’m just grateful for all of you and the wonderful stories you produce. So much enjoyment.
    As for series, I do enjoy them, as long as I am aware that the book is in a series so that I can begin at the beginning of said series. It can sometimes be confusing if you are not aware of that. When I first retired I took up reading for pure enjoyment again. I found a book at the library by Mary Balogh called SIMPLY LOVE. I didn’t realize it was from the middle of series that also even had characters from a previous series in it. I absolutely LOVED the book. But I couldn’t believe how many side characters it had (smile).

    Reply
  10. Thanks for the insight into your writing process. I imagine the process is different for different authors. I’m just grateful for all of you and the wonderful stories you produce. So much enjoyment.
    As for series, I do enjoy them, as long as I am aware that the book is in a series so that I can begin at the beginning of said series. It can sometimes be confusing if you are not aware of that. When I first retired I took up reading for pure enjoyment again. I found a book at the library by Mary Balogh called SIMPLY LOVE. I didn’t realize it was from the middle of series that also even had characters from a previous series in it. I absolutely LOVED the book. But I couldn’t believe how many side characters it had (smile).

    Reply
  11. A comment upon writing down your ideas: In the church where my children and I all sang in the choirs, the choir director was also a composer. He would write down any musical idea that occurred to him as soon as possible. He told us he would place at the bottom of a drawer. each take he would look at the top piece in the drawer. If he still liked he would place it back at the bottom of the drawer or else add some develop,ent and then place it at the bottom of the draw. Or else, he would discard it.
    It always sounded like a decent form of creative process to me.

    Reply
  12. A comment upon writing down your ideas: In the church where my children and I all sang in the choirs, the choir director was also a composer. He would write down any musical idea that occurred to him as soon as possible. He told us he would place at the bottom of a drawer. each take he would look at the top piece in the drawer. If he still liked he would place it back at the bottom of the drawer or else add some develop,ent and then place it at the bottom of the draw. Or else, he would discard it.
    It always sounded like a decent form of creative process to me.

    Reply
  13. A comment upon writing down your ideas: In the church where my children and I all sang in the choirs, the choir director was also a composer. He would write down any musical idea that occurred to him as soon as possible. He told us he would place at the bottom of a drawer. each take he would look at the top piece in the drawer. If he still liked he would place it back at the bottom of the drawer or else add some develop,ent and then place it at the bottom of the draw. Or else, he would discard it.
    It always sounded like a decent form of creative process to me.

    Reply
  14. A comment upon writing down your ideas: In the church where my children and I all sang in the choirs, the choir director was also a composer. He would write down any musical idea that occurred to him as soon as possible. He told us he would place at the bottom of a drawer. each take he would look at the top piece in the drawer. If he still liked he would place it back at the bottom of the drawer or else add some develop,ent and then place it at the bottom of the draw. Or else, he would discard it.
    It always sounded like a decent form of creative process to me.

    Reply
  15. A comment upon writing down your ideas: In the church where my children and I all sang in the choirs, the choir director was also a composer. He would write down any musical idea that occurred to him as soon as possible. He told us he would place at the bottom of a drawer. each take he would look at the top piece in the drawer. If he still liked he would place it back at the bottom of the drawer or else add some develop,ent and then place it at the bottom of the draw. Or else, he would discard it.
    It always sounded like a decent form of creative process to me.

    Reply
  16. When I was first discovering the Andre Norton science fiction and fantasy stories, I had a real talent for discovering the second book in each of her series and reading that book first!

    Reply
  17. When I was first discovering the Andre Norton science fiction and fantasy stories, I had a real talent for discovering the second book in each of her series and reading that book first!

    Reply
  18. When I was first discovering the Andre Norton science fiction and fantasy stories, I had a real talent for discovering the second book in each of her series and reading that book first!

    Reply
  19. When I was first discovering the Andre Norton science fiction and fantasy stories, I had a real talent for discovering the second book in each of her series and reading that book first!

    Reply
  20. When I was first discovering the Andre Norton science fiction and fantasy stories, I had a real talent for discovering the second book in each of her series and reading that book first!

    Reply
  21. Thanks for sharing, Anne. I adore your books! I’m always fascinated to hear about your process.
    I generally prefer series, because it means I can spend more time in a world I enjoy. I’m not sure there’s such as thing as too many in a series. As long as it stays fresh and the characters are engaging, I’m happy to keep reading!

    Reply
  22. Thanks for sharing, Anne. I adore your books! I’m always fascinated to hear about your process.
    I generally prefer series, because it means I can spend more time in a world I enjoy. I’m not sure there’s such as thing as too many in a series. As long as it stays fresh and the characters are engaging, I’m happy to keep reading!

    Reply
  23. Thanks for sharing, Anne. I adore your books! I’m always fascinated to hear about your process.
    I generally prefer series, because it means I can spend more time in a world I enjoy. I’m not sure there’s such as thing as too many in a series. As long as it stays fresh and the characters are engaging, I’m happy to keep reading!

    Reply
  24. Thanks for sharing, Anne. I adore your books! I’m always fascinated to hear about your process.
    I generally prefer series, because it means I can spend more time in a world I enjoy. I’m not sure there’s such as thing as too many in a series. As long as it stays fresh and the characters are engaging, I’m happy to keep reading!

    Reply
  25. Thanks for sharing, Anne. I adore your books! I’m always fascinated to hear about your process.
    I generally prefer series, because it means I can spend more time in a world I enjoy. I’m not sure there’s such as thing as too many in a series. As long as it stays fresh and the characters are engaging, I’m happy to keep reading!

    Reply
  26. Hi Anne
    Oh that was good I also love hearing how authors get to their stories and I have to say I loved that part that said there are many more stories going around in your head that does make me smile.
    I love books in a series and as for how many that depends on whether I am still engaged with the characters 🙂
    have Fun
    Helen

    Reply
  27. Hi Anne
    Oh that was good I also love hearing how authors get to their stories and I have to say I loved that part that said there are many more stories going around in your head that does make me smile.
    I love books in a series and as for how many that depends on whether I am still engaged with the characters 🙂
    have Fun
    Helen

    Reply
  28. Hi Anne
    Oh that was good I also love hearing how authors get to their stories and I have to say I loved that part that said there are many more stories going around in your head that does make me smile.
    I love books in a series and as for how many that depends on whether I am still engaged with the characters 🙂
    have Fun
    Helen

    Reply
  29. Hi Anne
    Oh that was good I also love hearing how authors get to their stories and I have to say I loved that part that said there are many more stories going around in your head that does make me smile.
    I love books in a series and as for how many that depends on whether I am still engaged with the characters 🙂
    have Fun
    Helen

    Reply
  30. Hi Anne
    Oh that was good I also love hearing how authors get to their stories and I have to say I loved that part that said there are many more stories going around in your head that does make me smile.
    I love books in a series and as for how many that depends on whether I am still engaged with the characters 🙂
    have Fun
    Helen

    Reply
  31. Thanks, Kathy — that’s pretty much the way I read, too. I love finding a good new-to-me author and then I binge read. A series gives me longer in that world, too.

    Reply
  32. Thanks, Kathy — that’s pretty much the way I read, too. I love finding a good new-to-me author and then I binge read. A series gives me longer in that world, too.

    Reply
  33. Thanks, Kathy — that’s pretty much the way I read, too. I love finding a good new-to-me author and then I binge read. A series gives me longer in that world, too.

    Reply
  34. Thanks, Kathy — that’s pretty much the way I read, too. I love finding a good new-to-me author and then I binge read. A series gives me longer in that world, too.

    Reply
  35. Thanks, Kathy — that’s pretty much the way I read, too. I love finding a good new-to-me author and then I binge read. A series gives me longer in that world, too.

    Reply
  36. How wonderful to see my questions answered — thank you so much, Anne! I, too, love the “Once upon a time…” idea, and realized as I read through it that it’s the way I describe my favorite books when recommending them to friends! Thank you for letting us share your process(es) as well as the always wonderful results!

    Reply
  37. How wonderful to see my questions answered — thank you so much, Anne! I, too, love the “Once upon a time…” idea, and realized as I read through it that it’s the way I describe my favorite books when recommending them to friends! Thank you for letting us share your process(es) as well as the always wonderful results!

    Reply
  38. How wonderful to see my questions answered — thank you so much, Anne! I, too, love the “Once upon a time…” idea, and realized as I read through it that it’s the way I describe my favorite books when recommending them to friends! Thank you for letting us share your process(es) as well as the always wonderful results!

    Reply
  39. How wonderful to see my questions answered — thank you so much, Anne! I, too, love the “Once upon a time…” idea, and realized as I read through it that it’s the way I describe my favorite books when recommending them to friends! Thank you for letting us share your process(es) as well as the always wonderful results!

    Reply
  40. How wonderful to see my questions answered — thank you so much, Anne! I, too, love the “Once upon a time…” idea, and realized as I read through it that it’s the way I describe my favorite books when recommending them to friends! Thank you for letting us share your process(es) as well as the always wonderful results!

    Reply
  41. Thanks, Mary. Every author is different, and has a unique process. And I suspect that for many of them the process changes and evolves, as mine has.
    I’ve done the same thing with some authors — started reading a book, realize a lot of people are being referred to that I don’t know about, and realize it’s part of a series. I adore Mary Balogh’s books, too.

    Reply
  42. Thanks, Mary. Every author is different, and has a unique process. And I suspect that for many of them the process changes and evolves, as mine has.
    I’ve done the same thing with some authors — started reading a book, realize a lot of people are being referred to that I don’t know about, and realize it’s part of a series. I adore Mary Balogh’s books, too.

    Reply
  43. Thanks, Mary. Every author is different, and has a unique process. And I suspect that for many of them the process changes and evolves, as mine has.
    I’ve done the same thing with some authors — started reading a book, realize a lot of people are being referred to that I don’t know about, and realize it’s part of a series. I adore Mary Balogh’s books, too.

    Reply
  44. Thanks, Mary. Every author is different, and has a unique process. And I suspect that for many of them the process changes and evolves, as mine has.
    I’ve done the same thing with some authors — started reading a book, realize a lot of people are being referred to that I don’t know about, and realize it’s part of a series. I adore Mary Balogh’s books, too.

    Reply
  45. Thanks, Mary. Every author is different, and has a unique process. And I suspect that for many of them the process changes and evolves, as mine has.
    I’ve done the same thing with some authors — started reading a book, realize a lot of people are being referred to that I don’t know about, and realize it’s part of a series. I adore Mary Balogh’s books, too.

    Reply
  46. Sue, I’m going to go back and find more Andre Norton books. I used to read them back in the day, before I started writing romance, and now I’m back reading fantasy again, I’m sure there will be new books waiting for me.

    Reply
  47. Sue, I’m going to go back and find more Andre Norton books. I used to read them back in the day, before I started writing romance, and now I’m back reading fantasy again, I’m sure there will be new books waiting for me.

    Reply
  48. Sue, I’m going to go back and find more Andre Norton books. I used to read them back in the day, before I started writing romance, and now I’m back reading fantasy again, I’m sure there will be new books waiting for me.

    Reply
  49. Sue, I’m going to go back and find more Andre Norton books. I used to read them back in the day, before I started writing romance, and now I’m back reading fantasy again, I’m sure there will be new books waiting for me.

    Reply
  50. Sue, I’m going to go back and find more Andre Norton books. I used to read them back in the day, before I started writing romance, and now I’m back reading fantasy again, I’m sure there will be new books waiting for me.

    Reply
  51. Thanks, Sue, it does sound like a good method. I’d probably need a chest of drawers, though. *g* The note books I use are A4 size, and I have a filing cabinet drawer full — though to be fair, they also contain scribbled scenes and notes about whatever book I’m working on. The “idea file” has been most useful when I was planning a novella and wondering what to write. Quite a few of my story ideas are not substantial enough for a whole novel, but contain a set-up just right for a novella.

    Reply
  52. Thanks, Sue, it does sound like a good method. I’d probably need a chest of drawers, though. *g* The note books I use are A4 size, and I have a filing cabinet drawer full — though to be fair, they also contain scribbled scenes and notes about whatever book I’m working on. The “idea file” has been most useful when I was planning a novella and wondering what to write. Quite a few of my story ideas are not substantial enough for a whole novel, but contain a set-up just right for a novella.

    Reply
  53. Thanks, Sue, it does sound like a good method. I’d probably need a chest of drawers, though. *g* The note books I use are A4 size, and I have a filing cabinet drawer full — though to be fair, they also contain scribbled scenes and notes about whatever book I’m working on. The “idea file” has been most useful when I was planning a novella and wondering what to write. Quite a few of my story ideas are not substantial enough for a whole novel, but contain a set-up just right for a novella.

    Reply
  54. Thanks, Sue, it does sound like a good method. I’d probably need a chest of drawers, though. *g* The note books I use are A4 size, and I have a filing cabinet drawer full — though to be fair, they also contain scribbled scenes and notes about whatever book I’m working on. The “idea file” has been most useful when I was planning a novella and wondering what to write. Quite a few of my story ideas are not substantial enough for a whole novel, but contain a set-up just right for a novella.

    Reply
  55. Thanks, Sue, it does sound like a good method. I’d probably need a chest of drawers, though. *g* The note books I use are A4 size, and I have a filing cabinet drawer full — though to be fair, they also contain scribbled scenes and notes about whatever book I’m working on. The “idea file” has been most useful when I was planning a novella and wondering what to write. Quite a few of my story ideas are not substantial enough for a whole novel, but contain a set-up just right for a novella.

    Reply
  56. Thanks Jenna — lovely of you to say so. If I’m well into a series, I want to stay in that world, too. I’ve read two series lately that are finished — the Sebastien De Castel series I mentioned on a WWR post, and the Sharon Shinn Twelve Houses series, and I really want them to continue.
    I also get emails from readers of my books asking for this characters story or that, but I’m hampered by my publishing contract. One day, I hope. . .

    Reply
  57. Thanks Jenna — lovely of you to say so. If I’m well into a series, I want to stay in that world, too. I’ve read two series lately that are finished — the Sebastien De Castel series I mentioned on a WWR post, and the Sharon Shinn Twelve Houses series, and I really want them to continue.
    I also get emails from readers of my books asking for this characters story or that, but I’m hampered by my publishing contract. One day, I hope. . .

    Reply
  58. Thanks Jenna — lovely of you to say so. If I’m well into a series, I want to stay in that world, too. I’ve read two series lately that are finished — the Sebastien De Castel series I mentioned on a WWR post, and the Sharon Shinn Twelve Houses series, and I really want them to continue.
    I also get emails from readers of my books asking for this characters story or that, but I’m hampered by my publishing contract. One day, I hope. . .

    Reply
  59. Thanks Jenna — lovely of you to say so. If I’m well into a series, I want to stay in that world, too. I’ve read two series lately that are finished — the Sebastien De Castel series I mentioned on a WWR post, and the Sharon Shinn Twelve Houses series, and I really want them to continue.
    I also get emails from readers of my books asking for this characters story or that, but I’m hampered by my publishing contract. One day, I hope. . .

    Reply
  60. Thanks Jenna — lovely of you to say so. If I’m well into a series, I want to stay in that world, too. I’ve read two series lately that are finished — the Sebastien De Castel series I mentioned on a WWR post, and the Sharon Shinn Twelve Houses series, and I really want them to continue.
    I also get emails from readers of my books asking for this characters story or that, but I’m hampered by my publishing contract. One day, I hope. . .

    Reply
  61. Mary Jo, I think it’s the “Once upon a time” start that eases you into storytelling, and the lack of emphasis on structure, though it does end up as structure.
    It hasn’t worked for me for every book — the current one for instance. Sometimes it’s just the set up it helps with. But every little bit helps clarify the story that’s spinning in my mind — sometimes in a fog, with only glimpses.

    Reply
  62. Mary Jo, I think it’s the “Once upon a time” start that eases you into storytelling, and the lack of emphasis on structure, though it does end up as structure.
    It hasn’t worked for me for every book — the current one for instance. Sometimes it’s just the set up it helps with. But every little bit helps clarify the story that’s spinning in my mind — sometimes in a fog, with only glimpses.

    Reply
  63. Mary Jo, I think it’s the “Once upon a time” start that eases you into storytelling, and the lack of emphasis on structure, though it does end up as structure.
    It hasn’t worked for me for every book — the current one for instance. Sometimes it’s just the set up it helps with. But every little bit helps clarify the story that’s spinning in my mind — sometimes in a fog, with only glimpses.

    Reply
  64. Mary Jo, I think it’s the “Once upon a time” start that eases you into storytelling, and the lack of emphasis on structure, though it does end up as structure.
    It hasn’t worked for me for every book — the current one for instance. Sometimes it’s just the set up it helps with. But every little bit helps clarify the story that’s spinning in my mind — sometimes in a fog, with only glimpses.

    Reply
  65. Mary Jo, I think it’s the “Once upon a time” start that eases you into storytelling, and the lack of emphasis on structure, though it does end up as structure.
    It hasn’t worked for me for every book — the current one for instance. Sometimes it’s just the set up it helps with. But every little bit helps clarify the story that’s spinning in my mind — sometimes in a fog, with only glimpses.

    Reply
  66. Linda, I appreciate the joy of ST and some of my faves from the past are complete stand-alones. But when I reread them, as I often do, I find myself wishing there was a story about this character, or that.
    Also I think some authors try hard to make each book work as a stand-alone, even when it’s part of a series. I know I do, though I might not always succeed as well as I’d like. I know my “seasonal bride” series is better if you read the Autumn Bride first, as it sets up the whole situation.
    As a reader, the thing I dislike is when you start reading a book and suddenly all these other people are mentioned that don’t seem to have a place in this story yet, but who are clearly there to “fill you in on” what’s happened in previous books. This can be done skillfully or clumsily, and the clumsy ones I generally put down.

    Reply
  67. Linda, I appreciate the joy of ST and some of my faves from the past are complete stand-alones. But when I reread them, as I often do, I find myself wishing there was a story about this character, or that.
    Also I think some authors try hard to make each book work as a stand-alone, even when it’s part of a series. I know I do, though I might not always succeed as well as I’d like. I know my “seasonal bride” series is better if you read the Autumn Bride first, as it sets up the whole situation.
    As a reader, the thing I dislike is when you start reading a book and suddenly all these other people are mentioned that don’t seem to have a place in this story yet, but who are clearly there to “fill you in on” what’s happened in previous books. This can be done skillfully or clumsily, and the clumsy ones I generally put down.

    Reply
  68. Linda, I appreciate the joy of ST and some of my faves from the past are complete stand-alones. But when I reread them, as I often do, I find myself wishing there was a story about this character, or that.
    Also I think some authors try hard to make each book work as a stand-alone, even when it’s part of a series. I know I do, though I might not always succeed as well as I’d like. I know my “seasonal bride” series is better if you read the Autumn Bride first, as it sets up the whole situation.
    As a reader, the thing I dislike is when you start reading a book and suddenly all these other people are mentioned that don’t seem to have a place in this story yet, but who are clearly there to “fill you in on” what’s happened in previous books. This can be done skillfully or clumsily, and the clumsy ones I generally put down.

    Reply
  69. Linda, I appreciate the joy of ST and some of my faves from the past are complete stand-alones. But when I reread them, as I often do, I find myself wishing there was a story about this character, or that.
    Also I think some authors try hard to make each book work as a stand-alone, even when it’s part of a series. I know I do, though I might not always succeed as well as I’d like. I know my “seasonal bride” series is better if you read the Autumn Bride first, as it sets up the whole situation.
    As a reader, the thing I dislike is when you start reading a book and suddenly all these other people are mentioned that don’t seem to have a place in this story yet, but who are clearly there to “fill you in on” what’s happened in previous books. This can be done skillfully or clumsily, and the clumsy ones I generally put down.

    Reply
  70. Linda, I appreciate the joy of ST and some of my faves from the past are complete stand-alones. But when I reread them, as I often do, I find myself wishing there was a story about this character, or that.
    Also I think some authors try hard to make each book work as a stand-alone, even when it’s part of a series. I know I do, though I might not always succeed as well as I’d like. I know my “seasonal bride” series is better if you read the Autumn Bride first, as it sets up the whole situation.
    As a reader, the thing I dislike is when you start reading a book and suddenly all these other people are mentioned that don’t seem to have a place in this story yet, but who are clearly there to “fill you in on” what’s happened in previous books. This can be done skillfully or clumsily, and the clumsy ones I generally put down.

    Reply
  71. Thanks, Helen. If only all those stories in my head could just be “downloaded” instead of having to struggle through the bookly birth canal one by one. *g*
    And you’re right — some series run out of puff, and become stale. There are several authors to whom I send silent thought waves, asking them to start something new. But if they’re still engaged with their world, and so are most of their readers, who am I to ask for something different?

    Reply
  72. Thanks, Helen. If only all those stories in my head could just be “downloaded” instead of having to struggle through the bookly birth canal one by one. *g*
    And you’re right — some series run out of puff, and become stale. There are several authors to whom I send silent thought waves, asking them to start something new. But if they’re still engaged with their world, and so are most of their readers, who am I to ask for something different?

    Reply
  73. Thanks, Helen. If only all those stories in my head could just be “downloaded” instead of having to struggle through the bookly birth canal one by one. *g*
    And you’re right — some series run out of puff, and become stale. There are several authors to whom I send silent thought waves, asking them to start something new. But if they’re still engaged with their world, and so are most of their readers, who am I to ask for something different?

    Reply
  74. Thanks, Helen. If only all those stories in my head could just be “downloaded” instead of having to struggle through the bookly birth canal one by one. *g*
    And you’re right — some series run out of puff, and become stale. There are several authors to whom I send silent thought waves, asking them to start something new. But if they’re still engaged with their world, and so are most of their readers, who am I to ask for something different?

    Reply
  75. Thanks, Helen. If only all those stories in my head could just be “downloaded” instead of having to struggle through the bookly birth canal one by one. *g*
    And you’re right — some series run out of puff, and become stale. There are several authors to whom I send silent thought waves, asking them to start something new. But if they’re still engaged with their world, and so are most of their readers, who am I to ask for something different?

    Reply
  76. Thanks for the questions, Constance. I’m actually deep in my new book and had forgotten until the last minute that I was to blog today. So your questions were just the ticket.
    Glad you like the Invisible Ink process. It;s the same one they use at Pixar — and Brian McDonald used to work there, so I don’t know whose idea it was — and don’t care. It works.

    Reply
  77. Thanks for the questions, Constance. I’m actually deep in my new book and had forgotten until the last minute that I was to blog today. So your questions were just the ticket.
    Glad you like the Invisible Ink process. It;s the same one they use at Pixar — and Brian McDonald used to work there, so I don’t know whose idea it was — and don’t care. It works.

    Reply
  78. Thanks for the questions, Constance. I’m actually deep in my new book and had forgotten until the last minute that I was to blog today. So your questions were just the ticket.
    Glad you like the Invisible Ink process. It;s the same one they use at Pixar — and Brian McDonald used to work there, so I don’t know whose idea it was — and don’t care. It works.

    Reply
  79. Thanks for the questions, Constance. I’m actually deep in my new book and had forgotten until the last minute that I was to blog today. So your questions were just the ticket.
    Glad you like the Invisible Ink process. It;s the same one they use at Pixar — and Brian McDonald used to work there, so I don’t know whose idea it was — and don’t care. It works.

    Reply
  80. Thanks for the questions, Constance. I’m actually deep in my new book and had forgotten until the last minute that I was to blog today. So your questions were just the ticket.
    Glad you like the Invisible Ink process. It;s the same one they use at Pixar — and Brian McDonald used to work there, so I don’t know whose idea it was — and don’t care. It works.

    Reply
  81. Anne,thanks for these fascinating insights.
    In Mary Balogh’s ‘Someone to hold’ the hero is a portrait artist and Balogh spends much time describing how the artist gets to know the subject in order to portray character and soul as well as the obvious ‘photographic’ aspects. I think that the best 5-star books usually make the characters ‘real’ so that the reader becomes aware of their inner thoughts and motivations and feels their emotions. In a sense they become friends or companions for a while. Could you perhaps say a little more about this aspect. Are you basing characters on people you know well or even yourself?
    I was also interested to hear that you use computer voices to proof read. Could you comment on effectiveness, which particular voice you prefer and whether you use a pronunciation editor?

    Reply
  82. Anne,thanks for these fascinating insights.
    In Mary Balogh’s ‘Someone to hold’ the hero is a portrait artist and Balogh spends much time describing how the artist gets to know the subject in order to portray character and soul as well as the obvious ‘photographic’ aspects. I think that the best 5-star books usually make the characters ‘real’ so that the reader becomes aware of their inner thoughts and motivations and feels their emotions. In a sense they become friends or companions for a while. Could you perhaps say a little more about this aspect. Are you basing characters on people you know well or even yourself?
    I was also interested to hear that you use computer voices to proof read. Could you comment on effectiveness, which particular voice you prefer and whether you use a pronunciation editor?

    Reply
  83. Anne,thanks for these fascinating insights.
    In Mary Balogh’s ‘Someone to hold’ the hero is a portrait artist and Balogh spends much time describing how the artist gets to know the subject in order to portray character and soul as well as the obvious ‘photographic’ aspects. I think that the best 5-star books usually make the characters ‘real’ so that the reader becomes aware of their inner thoughts and motivations and feels their emotions. In a sense they become friends or companions for a while. Could you perhaps say a little more about this aspect. Are you basing characters on people you know well or even yourself?
    I was also interested to hear that you use computer voices to proof read. Could you comment on effectiveness, which particular voice you prefer and whether you use a pronunciation editor?

    Reply
  84. Anne,thanks for these fascinating insights.
    In Mary Balogh’s ‘Someone to hold’ the hero is a portrait artist and Balogh spends much time describing how the artist gets to know the subject in order to portray character and soul as well as the obvious ‘photographic’ aspects. I think that the best 5-star books usually make the characters ‘real’ so that the reader becomes aware of their inner thoughts and motivations and feels their emotions. In a sense they become friends or companions for a while. Could you perhaps say a little more about this aspect. Are you basing characters on people you know well or even yourself?
    I was also interested to hear that you use computer voices to proof read. Could you comment on effectiveness, which particular voice you prefer and whether you use a pronunciation editor?

    Reply
  85. Anne,thanks for these fascinating insights.
    In Mary Balogh’s ‘Someone to hold’ the hero is a portrait artist and Balogh spends much time describing how the artist gets to know the subject in order to portray character and soul as well as the obvious ‘photographic’ aspects. I think that the best 5-star books usually make the characters ‘real’ so that the reader becomes aware of their inner thoughts and motivations and feels their emotions. In a sense they become friends or companions for a while. Could you perhaps say a little more about this aspect. Are you basing characters on people you know well or even yourself?
    I was also interested to hear that you use computer voices to proof read. Could you comment on effectiveness, which particular voice you prefer and whether you use a pronunciation editor?

    Reply
  86. Hi Quantum. I don’t base characters on anyone I know, or on me. The few times I tried that (early in my writing career in a piece of literary fiction that I never finished) it messed with the story, and the characters didn’t work. It was only when I let go of the “real” people that the characters sprang to life on the page — and they were nothing like the ones I started with. I think I believe in “the muse” because when I try to make something work in a particular way, I often struggle, but as soon as I stop trying to control it, and let it lead me, it starts to work.
    These days I encounter two kinds of characters in my drafts — ones that, for want of a better expression, spring to life on the page, and ones that are somewhat wooden. The former I then have to work to discover, and I do that by following on from what they’ve already said or done, and thinking my way into that character’s situation, and by learning who they are and what makes them tick. I ask questions, such as who are they? What do they want? What’s their biggest fear? And I keep asking questions all the time I’m writing. The answers to these don’t come automatically — I sometimes liken writing to archaeology, in that I get glimpses, and have to work to reveal more, but I don’t see the whole picture until I’m almost at the end. And though it sounds silly, characters will sometimes surprise me. I’ll be writing dialogue — by hand, the pen flying — and they’ll say something I didn’t expect, or take the conversation in a different direction. And then I’ll have to work out why they said that, and where will I go now.
    The wooden characters I usually have to play around with — changing their names, their background, etc until something clicks and they’re off and running and no longer wooden. It sounds really superficial to say a change of name can change a character, but it’s true. Though the name is just the start.

    Reply
  87. Hi Quantum. I don’t base characters on anyone I know, or on me. The few times I tried that (early in my writing career in a piece of literary fiction that I never finished) it messed with the story, and the characters didn’t work. It was only when I let go of the “real” people that the characters sprang to life on the page — and they were nothing like the ones I started with. I think I believe in “the muse” because when I try to make something work in a particular way, I often struggle, but as soon as I stop trying to control it, and let it lead me, it starts to work.
    These days I encounter two kinds of characters in my drafts — ones that, for want of a better expression, spring to life on the page, and ones that are somewhat wooden. The former I then have to work to discover, and I do that by following on from what they’ve already said or done, and thinking my way into that character’s situation, and by learning who they are and what makes them tick. I ask questions, such as who are they? What do they want? What’s their biggest fear? And I keep asking questions all the time I’m writing. The answers to these don’t come automatically — I sometimes liken writing to archaeology, in that I get glimpses, and have to work to reveal more, but I don’t see the whole picture until I’m almost at the end. And though it sounds silly, characters will sometimes surprise me. I’ll be writing dialogue — by hand, the pen flying — and they’ll say something I didn’t expect, or take the conversation in a different direction. And then I’ll have to work out why they said that, and where will I go now.
    The wooden characters I usually have to play around with — changing their names, their background, etc until something clicks and they’re off and running and no longer wooden. It sounds really superficial to say a change of name can change a character, but it’s true. Though the name is just the start.

    Reply
  88. Hi Quantum. I don’t base characters on anyone I know, or on me. The few times I tried that (early in my writing career in a piece of literary fiction that I never finished) it messed with the story, and the characters didn’t work. It was only when I let go of the “real” people that the characters sprang to life on the page — and they were nothing like the ones I started with. I think I believe in “the muse” because when I try to make something work in a particular way, I often struggle, but as soon as I stop trying to control it, and let it lead me, it starts to work.
    These days I encounter two kinds of characters in my drafts — ones that, for want of a better expression, spring to life on the page, and ones that are somewhat wooden. The former I then have to work to discover, and I do that by following on from what they’ve already said or done, and thinking my way into that character’s situation, and by learning who they are and what makes them tick. I ask questions, such as who are they? What do they want? What’s their biggest fear? And I keep asking questions all the time I’m writing. The answers to these don’t come automatically — I sometimes liken writing to archaeology, in that I get glimpses, and have to work to reveal more, but I don’t see the whole picture until I’m almost at the end. And though it sounds silly, characters will sometimes surprise me. I’ll be writing dialogue — by hand, the pen flying — and they’ll say something I didn’t expect, or take the conversation in a different direction. And then I’ll have to work out why they said that, and where will I go now.
    The wooden characters I usually have to play around with — changing their names, their background, etc until something clicks and they’re off and running and no longer wooden. It sounds really superficial to say a change of name can change a character, but it’s true. Though the name is just the start.

    Reply
  89. Hi Quantum. I don’t base characters on anyone I know, or on me. The few times I tried that (early in my writing career in a piece of literary fiction that I never finished) it messed with the story, and the characters didn’t work. It was only when I let go of the “real” people that the characters sprang to life on the page — and they were nothing like the ones I started with. I think I believe in “the muse” because when I try to make something work in a particular way, I often struggle, but as soon as I stop trying to control it, and let it lead me, it starts to work.
    These days I encounter two kinds of characters in my drafts — ones that, for want of a better expression, spring to life on the page, and ones that are somewhat wooden. The former I then have to work to discover, and I do that by following on from what they’ve already said or done, and thinking my way into that character’s situation, and by learning who they are and what makes them tick. I ask questions, such as who are they? What do they want? What’s their biggest fear? And I keep asking questions all the time I’m writing. The answers to these don’t come automatically — I sometimes liken writing to archaeology, in that I get glimpses, and have to work to reveal more, but I don’t see the whole picture until I’m almost at the end. And though it sounds silly, characters will sometimes surprise me. I’ll be writing dialogue — by hand, the pen flying — and they’ll say something I didn’t expect, or take the conversation in a different direction. And then I’ll have to work out why they said that, and where will I go now.
    The wooden characters I usually have to play around with — changing their names, their background, etc until something clicks and they’re off and running and no longer wooden. It sounds really superficial to say a change of name can change a character, but it’s true. Though the name is just the start.

    Reply
  90. Hi Quantum. I don’t base characters on anyone I know, or on me. The few times I tried that (early in my writing career in a piece of literary fiction that I never finished) it messed with the story, and the characters didn’t work. It was only when I let go of the “real” people that the characters sprang to life on the page — and they were nothing like the ones I started with. I think I believe in “the muse” because when I try to make something work in a particular way, I often struggle, but as soon as I stop trying to control it, and let it lead me, it starts to work.
    These days I encounter two kinds of characters in my drafts — ones that, for want of a better expression, spring to life on the page, and ones that are somewhat wooden. The former I then have to work to discover, and I do that by following on from what they’ve already said or done, and thinking my way into that character’s situation, and by learning who they are and what makes them tick. I ask questions, such as who are they? What do they want? What’s their biggest fear? And I keep asking questions all the time I’m writing. The answers to these don’t come automatically — I sometimes liken writing to archaeology, in that I get glimpses, and have to work to reveal more, but I don’t see the whole picture until I’m almost at the end. And though it sounds silly, characters will sometimes surprise me. I’ll be writing dialogue — by hand, the pen flying — and they’ll say something I didn’t expect, or take the conversation in a different direction. And then I’ll have to work out why they said that, and where will I go now.
    The wooden characters I usually have to play around with — changing their names, their background, etc until something clicks and they’re off and running and no longer wooden. It sounds really superficial to say a change of name can change a character, but it’s true. Though the name is just the start.

    Reply
  91. Re the computer voices to read my work back, I only use one, and it’s a very basic one — Alex in the Mac range, and he’s a bit like the Stephen Hawking voice. No expression, and some odd mispronunciations. There are better, more modern voices but I’ve been using Alex for years now and I’m used to him.
    Proofing my own work is hard because I sometimes read when I think I’ve written, not what I’ve written, so I get the computer to read each scene back to me before I move on to the next. It helps me pick up the small glitches — repeated words or phrases, missed words, awkward phrases and typos — and also to listen for cadence and how the writing flows.
    I don’t use a pronunciation editor. I flirted with Dragon Dictate for a while and did some pronunciation training there, but I decided that reading my handwriting to a dictation program wasn’t as effective as typing up my “scribble” because with the latter I edited and polished as I typed.
    Hope this helps.

    Reply
  92. Re the computer voices to read my work back, I only use one, and it’s a very basic one — Alex in the Mac range, and he’s a bit like the Stephen Hawking voice. No expression, and some odd mispronunciations. There are better, more modern voices but I’ve been using Alex for years now and I’m used to him.
    Proofing my own work is hard because I sometimes read when I think I’ve written, not what I’ve written, so I get the computer to read each scene back to me before I move on to the next. It helps me pick up the small glitches — repeated words or phrases, missed words, awkward phrases and typos — and also to listen for cadence and how the writing flows.
    I don’t use a pronunciation editor. I flirted with Dragon Dictate for a while and did some pronunciation training there, but I decided that reading my handwriting to a dictation program wasn’t as effective as typing up my “scribble” because with the latter I edited and polished as I typed.
    Hope this helps.

    Reply
  93. Re the computer voices to read my work back, I only use one, and it’s a very basic one — Alex in the Mac range, and he’s a bit like the Stephen Hawking voice. No expression, and some odd mispronunciations. There are better, more modern voices but I’ve been using Alex for years now and I’m used to him.
    Proofing my own work is hard because I sometimes read when I think I’ve written, not what I’ve written, so I get the computer to read each scene back to me before I move on to the next. It helps me pick up the small glitches — repeated words or phrases, missed words, awkward phrases and typos — and also to listen for cadence and how the writing flows.
    I don’t use a pronunciation editor. I flirted with Dragon Dictate for a while and did some pronunciation training there, but I decided that reading my handwriting to a dictation program wasn’t as effective as typing up my “scribble” because with the latter I edited and polished as I typed.
    Hope this helps.

    Reply
  94. Re the computer voices to read my work back, I only use one, and it’s a very basic one — Alex in the Mac range, and he’s a bit like the Stephen Hawking voice. No expression, and some odd mispronunciations. There are better, more modern voices but I’ve been using Alex for years now and I’m used to him.
    Proofing my own work is hard because I sometimes read when I think I’ve written, not what I’ve written, so I get the computer to read each scene back to me before I move on to the next. It helps me pick up the small glitches — repeated words or phrases, missed words, awkward phrases and typos — and also to listen for cadence and how the writing flows.
    I don’t use a pronunciation editor. I flirted with Dragon Dictate for a while and did some pronunciation training there, but I decided that reading my handwriting to a dictation program wasn’t as effective as typing up my “scribble” because with the latter I edited and polished as I typed.
    Hope this helps.

    Reply
  95. Re the computer voices to read my work back, I only use one, and it’s a very basic one — Alex in the Mac range, and he’s a bit like the Stephen Hawking voice. No expression, and some odd mispronunciations. There are better, more modern voices but I’ve been using Alex for years now and I’m used to him.
    Proofing my own work is hard because I sometimes read when I think I’ve written, not what I’ve written, so I get the computer to read each scene back to me before I move on to the next. It helps me pick up the small glitches — repeated words or phrases, missed words, awkward phrases and typos — and also to listen for cadence and how the writing flows.
    I don’t use a pronunciation editor. I flirted with Dragon Dictate for a while and did some pronunciation training there, but I decided that reading my handwriting to a dictation program wasn’t as effective as typing up my “scribble” because with the latter I edited and polished as I typed.
    Hope this helps.

    Reply
  96. Ann, I think you may be missing a trick with your text-to-speech software. I use TextAloud (from NextUp.com) and especially like the Ivona voices. All the common miss-pronunciations are easily corrected except for Heteronyms. I use it all the time for proof reading more technical articles and can recommend giving it a try. Though I do understand the attraction of sticking with something that works for you. Hawking stuck with his awful robotic voice, I think because people came to recognize and identify it with him …. keeping a brand in a way.

    Reply
  97. Ann, I think you may be missing a trick with your text-to-speech software. I use TextAloud (from NextUp.com) and especially like the Ivona voices. All the common miss-pronunciations are easily corrected except for Heteronyms. I use it all the time for proof reading more technical articles and can recommend giving it a try. Though I do understand the attraction of sticking with something that works for you. Hawking stuck with his awful robotic voice, I think because people came to recognize and identify it with him …. keeping a brand in a way.

    Reply
  98. Ann, I think you may be missing a trick with your text-to-speech software. I use TextAloud (from NextUp.com) and especially like the Ivona voices. All the common miss-pronunciations are easily corrected except for Heteronyms. I use it all the time for proof reading more technical articles and can recommend giving it a try. Though I do understand the attraction of sticking with something that works for you. Hawking stuck with his awful robotic voice, I think because people came to recognize and identify it with him …. keeping a brand in a way.

    Reply
  99. Ann, I think you may be missing a trick with your text-to-speech software. I use TextAloud (from NextUp.com) and especially like the Ivona voices. All the common miss-pronunciations are easily corrected except for Heteronyms. I use it all the time for proof reading more technical articles and can recommend giving it a try. Though I do understand the attraction of sticking with something that works for you. Hawking stuck with his awful robotic voice, I think because people came to recognize and identify it with him …. keeping a brand in a way.

    Reply
  100. Ann, I think you may be missing a trick with your text-to-speech software. I use TextAloud (from NextUp.com) and especially like the Ivona voices. All the common miss-pronunciations are easily corrected except for Heteronyms. I use it all the time for proof reading more technical articles and can recommend giving it a try. Though I do understand the attraction of sticking with something that works for you. Hawking stuck with his awful robotic voice, I think because people came to recognize and identify it with him …. keeping a brand in a way.

    Reply
  101. “I ask questions, such as who are they? What do they want? What’s their biggest fear? And I keep asking questions all the time I’m writing.”
    Anne, that is exactly the approach of Mary Balogh’s portrait artist … probing to see what makes the person tick. Though when the person is created by your own imagination you are in a way probing your own subconscious mind … finding aspects that you aspire too perhaps or maybe aspects that you hate …. need a psychology degree to understand details I think!
    Thanks for explaining this. 😊

    Reply
  102. “I ask questions, such as who are they? What do they want? What’s their biggest fear? And I keep asking questions all the time I’m writing.”
    Anne, that is exactly the approach of Mary Balogh’s portrait artist … probing to see what makes the person tick. Though when the person is created by your own imagination you are in a way probing your own subconscious mind … finding aspects that you aspire too perhaps or maybe aspects that you hate …. need a psychology degree to understand details I think!
    Thanks for explaining this. 😊

    Reply
  103. “I ask questions, such as who are they? What do they want? What’s their biggest fear? And I keep asking questions all the time I’m writing.”
    Anne, that is exactly the approach of Mary Balogh’s portrait artist … probing to see what makes the person tick. Though when the person is created by your own imagination you are in a way probing your own subconscious mind … finding aspects that you aspire too perhaps or maybe aspects that you hate …. need a psychology degree to understand details I think!
    Thanks for explaining this. 😊

    Reply
  104. “I ask questions, such as who are they? What do they want? What’s their biggest fear? And I keep asking questions all the time I’m writing.”
    Anne, that is exactly the approach of Mary Balogh’s portrait artist … probing to see what makes the person tick. Though when the person is created by your own imagination you are in a way probing your own subconscious mind … finding aspects that you aspire too perhaps or maybe aspects that you hate …. need a psychology degree to understand details I think!
    Thanks for explaining this. 😊

    Reply
  105. “I ask questions, such as who are they? What do they want? What’s their biggest fear? And I keep asking questions all the time I’m writing.”
    Anne, that is exactly the approach of Mary Balogh’s portrait artist … probing to see what makes the person tick. Though when the person is created by your own imagination you are in a way probing your own subconscious mind … finding aspects that you aspire too perhaps or maybe aspects that you hate …. need a psychology degree to understand details I think!
    Thanks for explaining this. 😊

    Reply
  106. Ma’am, I thank you for the insight into creating. I like the idea of messy. After all, having a baby is a messy business but the end result is lovely.
    I would like to compliment you on how successful your process is. You create – no matter how – and we as readers get a book we love and it is filled with people who make us smile or cry or sneer.
    Thank you.

    Reply
  107. Ma’am, I thank you for the insight into creating. I like the idea of messy. After all, having a baby is a messy business but the end result is lovely.
    I would like to compliment you on how successful your process is. You create – no matter how – and we as readers get a book we love and it is filled with people who make us smile or cry or sneer.
    Thank you.

    Reply
  108. Ma’am, I thank you for the insight into creating. I like the idea of messy. After all, having a baby is a messy business but the end result is lovely.
    I would like to compliment you on how successful your process is. You create – no matter how – and we as readers get a book we love and it is filled with people who make us smile or cry or sneer.
    Thank you.

    Reply
  109. Ma’am, I thank you for the insight into creating. I like the idea of messy. After all, having a baby is a messy business but the end result is lovely.
    I would like to compliment you on how successful your process is. You create – no matter how – and we as readers get a book we love and it is filled with people who make us smile or cry or sneer.
    Thank you.

    Reply
  110. Ma’am, I thank you for the insight into creating. I like the idea of messy. After all, having a baby is a messy business but the end result is lovely.
    I would like to compliment you on how successful your process is. You create – no matter how – and we as readers get a book we love and it is filled with people who make us smile or cry or sneer.
    Thank you.

    Reply
  111. Anne, that was completely fascinating. I love hearing authors talk about anything involved in their writing; be it research or process. I love Annette N’s reference to having a baby.
    And the comment from Quantum reminded me that like your multiple ways of approaching and achieving the beginnings and completion of a novel, quite a few artists in many different fields are basically incredibly creative folk. They aren’t always just the singer, actor, writer or such that we most know them for. i.e., actor/photographers, writers/musicians, singers/painters. I loved that your creative self uses multiple ways to help you.
    I love series. And I love binge reading series. And I love rereading series. Early on when I discovered I actually liked romance (eyes toward my hairline, long story,) I didn’t often know where to begin so would buy for my shiny new Kindle stories that were on sale. I read one of Mary Jo’s Fallen Angels books (wonderful, I was in love) but was left with the feeling ‘hey, what about their story???’ What a newby. I eventually discovered it was waaay down toward the end of the series. So after a couple more readings out of order I got around to completing the series so I could read it straight through. ‘This is better!’ Slap forehead.
    Thanks Anne, for this post and your WRITING!

    Reply
  112. Anne, that was completely fascinating. I love hearing authors talk about anything involved in their writing; be it research or process. I love Annette N’s reference to having a baby.
    And the comment from Quantum reminded me that like your multiple ways of approaching and achieving the beginnings and completion of a novel, quite a few artists in many different fields are basically incredibly creative folk. They aren’t always just the singer, actor, writer or such that we most know them for. i.e., actor/photographers, writers/musicians, singers/painters. I loved that your creative self uses multiple ways to help you.
    I love series. And I love binge reading series. And I love rereading series. Early on when I discovered I actually liked romance (eyes toward my hairline, long story,) I didn’t often know where to begin so would buy for my shiny new Kindle stories that were on sale. I read one of Mary Jo’s Fallen Angels books (wonderful, I was in love) but was left with the feeling ‘hey, what about their story???’ What a newby. I eventually discovered it was waaay down toward the end of the series. So after a couple more readings out of order I got around to completing the series so I could read it straight through. ‘This is better!’ Slap forehead.
    Thanks Anne, for this post and your WRITING!

    Reply
  113. Anne, that was completely fascinating. I love hearing authors talk about anything involved in their writing; be it research or process. I love Annette N’s reference to having a baby.
    And the comment from Quantum reminded me that like your multiple ways of approaching and achieving the beginnings and completion of a novel, quite a few artists in many different fields are basically incredibly creative folk. They aren’t always just the singer, actor, writer or such that we most know them for. i.e., actor/photographers, writers/musicians, singers/painters. I loved that your creative self uses multiple ways to help you.
    I love series. And I love binge reading series. And I love rereading series. Early on when I discovered I actually liked romance (eyes toward my hairline, long story,) I didn’t often know where to begin so would buy for my shiny new Kindle stories that were on sale. I read one of Mary Jo’s Fallen Angels books (wonderful, I was in love) but was left with the feeling ‘hey, what about their story???’ What a newby. I eventually discovered it was waaay down toward the end of the series. So after a couple more readings out of order I got around to completing the series so I could read it straight through. ‘This is better!’ Slap forehead.
    Thanks Anne, for this post and your WRITING!

    Reply
  114. Anne, that was completely fascinating. I love hearing authors talk about anything involved in their writing; be it research or process. I love Annette N’s reference to having a baby.
    And the comment from Quantum reminded me that like your multiple ways of approaching and achieving the beginnings and completion of a novel, quite a few artists in many different fields are basically incredibly creative folk. They aren’t always just the singer, actor, writer or such that we most know them for. i.e., actor/photographers, writers/musicians, singers/painters. I loved that your creative self uses multiple ways to help you.
    I love series. And I love binge reading series. And I love rereading series. Early on when I discovered I actually liked romance (eyes toward my hairline, long story,) I didn’t often know where to begin so would buy for my shiny new Kindle stories that were on sale. I read one of Mary Jo’s Fallen Angels books (wonderful, I was in love) but was left with the feeling ‘hey, what about their story???’ What a newby. I eventually discovered it was waaay down toward the end of the series. So after a couple more readings out of order I got around to completing the series so I could read it straight through. ‘This is better!’ Slap forehead.
    Thanks Anne, for this post and your WRITING!

    Reply
  115. Anne, that was completely fascinating. I love hearing authors talk about anything involved in their writing; be it research or process. I love Annette N’s reference to having a baby.
    And the comment from Quantum reminded me that like your multiple ways of approaching and achieving the beginnings and completion of a novel, quite a few artists in many different fields are basically incredibly creative folk. They aren’t always just the singer, actor, writer or such that we most know them for. i.e., actor/photographers, writers/musicians, singers/painters. I loved that your creative self uses multiple ways to help you.
    I love series. And I love binge reading series. And I love rereading series. Early on when I discovered I actually liked romance (eyes toward my hairline, long story,) I didn’t often know where to begin so would buy for my shiny new Kindle stories that were on sale. I read one of Mary Jo’s Fallen Angels books (wonderful, I was in love) but was left with the feeling ‘hey, what about their story???’ What a newby. I eventually discovered it was waaay down toward the end of the series. So after a couple more readings out of order I got around to completing the series so I could read it straight through. ‘This is better!’ Slap forehead.
    Thanks Anne, for this post and your WRITING!

    Reply
  116. I don’t think changing a name is that superficial…cause everyone has biases one way or the other about individual names whether they know it or not.
    Besides which some names are just perceived as stronger, more artistic, more manly, more feminine, too middle class, etc, etc.
    Just think of these name pairs:
    Elizabeth – Beth, Betsy, Bess
    Catherine – Cathy, Cathie, Cassie
    Cynthia – Cindy, Cyndy
    Rebecca – Becky
    Mark – Mattie
    Andrew – Andy
    Thomas – Tom, Tommy
    Anthony – Tony
    Frank – Frankie
    Victoria – Vicki (but I wasn’t named Victoria, just plain Vicki)
    One side sounds stronger than the other even though they might both apply to the same individual. Though if you knew a very strong willed Tony, Andy, Vicki, then you think of it as a strong name – grin.
    By the way, I loved this topic. I also think the writing process inherently changes as you write and develop your craft. As well editors also have pet peeves and hound you to do certain things. I know I hounded my mom, sister and several friends when I edited their articles and genealogy book. They did agree that not committing my pet peeve sins did improve the flow. Ahem….
    As for series…I like stand alones and series. In many ways 3 – 6 books in a series tend to be a good length. The world is created, the characters remain fresh and wonderful and the author doesn’t start going, well…ummmm, what… Unfortunately some authors do a 20 book series and the books become very uneven in quality and/or they totally run out of umph by the end.
    Spinoffs from a previous series works (in my mind) IF there is a logical reason to go in that direction and use those minor characters to become main characters in their own right.
    That is an interesting question itself – how do you create a new series as a spinoff? As in how to do the set up to make it logical.
    I’ve loved all the Wenchly reader comments as well on this topic. (I always enjoy the Wenchly reader comments but everyone has asked so many intriguing questions on this topic that I hadn’t thought of.)

    Reply
  117. I don’t think changing a name is that superficial…cause everyone has biases one way or the other about individual names whether they know it or not.
    Besides which some names are just perceived as stronger, more artistic, more manly, more feminine, too middle class, etc, etc.
    Just think of these name pairs:
    Elizabeth – Beth, Betsy, Bess
    Catherine – Cathy, Cathie, Cassie
    Cynthia – Cindy, Cyndy
    Rebecca – Becky
    Mark – Mattie
    Andrew – Andy
    Thomas – Tom, Tommy
    Anthony – Tony
    Frank – Frankie
    Victoria – Vicki (but I wasn’t named Victoria, just plain Vicki)
    One side sounds stronger than the other even though they might both apply to the same individual. Though if you knew a very strong willed Tony, Andy, Vicki, then you think of it as a strong name – grin.
    By the way, I loved this topic. I also think the writing process inherently changes as you write and develop your craft. As well editors also have pet peeves and hound you to do certain things. I know I hounded my mom, sister and several friends when I edited their articles and genealogy book. They did agree that not committing my pet peeve sins did improve the flow. Ahem….
    As for series…I like stand alones and series. In many ways 3 – 6 books in a series tend to be a good length. The world is created, the characters remain fresh and wonderful and the author doesn’t start going, well…ummmm, what… Unfortunately some authors do a 20 book series and the books become very uneven in quality and/or they totally run out of umph by the end.
    Spinoffs from a previous series works (in my mind) IF there is a logical reason to go in that direction and use those minor characters to become main characters in their own right.
    That is an interesting question itself – how do you create a new series as a spinoff? As in how to do the set up to make it logical.
    I’ve loved all the Wenchly reader comments as well on this topic. (I always enjoy the Wenchly reader comments but everyone has asked so many intriguing questions on this topic that I hadn’t thought of.)

    Reply
  118. I don’t think changing a name is that superficial…cause everyone has biases one way or the other about individual names whether they know it or not.
    Besides which some names are just perceived as stronger, more artistic, more manly, more feminine, too middle class, etc, etc.
    Just think of these name pairs:
    Elizabeth – Beth, Betsy, Bess
    Catherine – Cathy, Cathie, Cassie
    Cynthia – Cindy, Cyndy
    Rebecca – Becky
    Mark – Mattie
    Andrew – Andy
    Thomas – Tom, Tommy
    Anthony – Tony
    Frank – Frankie
    Victoria – Vicki (but I wasn’t named Victoria, just plain Vicki)
    One side sounds stronger than the other even though they might both apply to the same individual. Though if you knew a very strong willed Tony, Andy, Vicki, then you think of it as a strong name – grin.
    By the way, I loved this topic. I also think the writing process inherently changes as you write and develop your craft. As well editors also have pet peeves and hound you to do certain things. I know I hounded my mom, sister and several friends when I edited their articles and genealogy book. They did agree that not committing my pet peeve sins did improve the flow. Ahem….
    As for series…I like stand alones and series. In many ways 3 – 6 books in a series tend to be a good length. The world is created, the characters remain fresh and wonderful and the author doesn’t start going, well…ummmm, what… Unfortunately some authors do a 20 book series and the books become very uneven in quality and/or they totally run out of umph by the end.
    Spinoffs from a previous series works (in my mind) IF there is a logical reason to go in that direction and use those minor characters to become main characters in their own right.
    That is an interesting question itself – how do you create a new series as a spinoff? As in how to do the set up to make it logical.
    I’ve loved all the Wenchly reader comments as well on this topic. (I always enjoy the Wenchly reader comments but everyone has asked so many intriguing questions on this topic that I hadn’t thought of.)

    Reply
  119. I don’t think changing a name is that superficial…cause everyone has biases one way or the other about individual names whether they know it or not.
    Besides which some names are just perceived as stronger, more artistic, more manly, more feminine, too middle class, etc, etc.
    Just think of these name pairs:
    Elizabeth – Beth, Betsy, Bess
    Catherine – Cathy, Cathie, Cassie
    Cynthia – Cindy, Cyndy
    Rebecca – Becky
    Mark – Mattie
    Andrew – Andy
    Thomas – Tom, Tommy
    Anthony – Tony
    Frank – Frankie
    Victoria – Vicki (but I wasn’t named Victoria, just plain Vicki)
    One side sounds stronger than the other even though they might both apply to the same individual. Though if you knew a very strong willed Tony, Andy, Vicki, then you think of it as a strong name – grin.
    By the way, I loved this topic. I also think the writing process inherently changes as you write and develop your craft. As well editors also have pet peeves and hound you to do certain things. I know I hounded my mom, sister and several friends when I edited their articles and genealogy book. They did agree that not committing my pet peeve sins did improve the flow. Ahem….
    As for series…I like stand alones and series. In many ways 3 – 6 books in a series tend to be a good length. The world is created, the characters remain fresh and wonderful and the author doesn’t start going, well…ummmm, what… Unfortunately some authors do a 20 book series and the books become very uneven in quality and/or they totally run out of umph by the end.
    Spinoffs from a previous series works (in my mind) IF there is a logical reason to go in that direction and use those minor characters to become main characters in their own right.
    That is an interesting question itself – how do you create a new series as a spinoff? As in how to do the set up to make it logical.
    I’ve loved all the Wenchly reader comments as well on this topic. (I always enjoy the Wenchly reader comments but everyone has asked so many intriguing questions on this topic that I hadn’t thought of.)

    Reply
  120. I don’t think changing a name is that superficial…cause everyone has biases one way or the other about individual names whether they know it or not.
    Besides which some names are just perceived as stronger, more artistic, more manly, more feminine, too middle class, etc, etc.
    Just think of these name pairs:
    Elizabeth – Beth, Betsy, Bess
    Catherine – Cathy, Cathie, Cassie
    Cynthia – Cindy, Cyndy
    Rebecca – Becky
    Mark – Mattie
    Andrew – Andy
    Thomas – Tom, Tommy
    Anthony – Tony
    Frank – Frankie
    Victoria – Vicki (but I wasn’t named Victoria, just plain Vicki)
    One side sounds stronger than the other even though they might both apply to the same individual. Though if you knew a very strong willed Tony, Andy, Vicki, then you think of it as a strong name – grin.
    By the way, I loved this topic. I also think the writing process inherently changes as you write and develop your craft. As well editors also have pet peeves and hound you to do certain things. I know I hounded my mom, sister and several friends when I edited their articles and genealogy book. They did agree that not committing my pet peeve sins did improve the flow. Ahem….
    As for series…I like stand alones and series. In many ways 3 – 6 books in a series tend to be a good length. The world is created, the characters remain fresh and wonderful and the author doesn’t start going, well…ummmm, what… Unfortunately some authors do a 20 book series and the books become very uneven in quality and/or they totally run out of umph by the end.
    Spinoffs from a previous series works (in my mind) IF there is a logical reason to go in that direction and use those minor characters to become main characters in their own right.
    That is an interesting question itself – how do you create a new series as a spinoff? As in how to do the set up to make it logical.
    I’ve loved all the Wenchly reader comments as well on this topic. (I always enjoy the Wenchly reader comments but everyone has asked so many intriguing questions on this topic that I hadn’t thought of.)

    Reply
  121. Thanks, Quantum. I have played with using other voices — in the Mac program there are lots of choices. I’ve put some of my other writer friends onto using the computer to read back, and each time I talk them through the process, I try out a few other voices, but I
    m picky and I reject some on the grounds of their “personality”. I think what I like about Alex is his complete lack of personality — it’s so basic and “no-nonsense.’
    Alex’s mispronunciations are more in things like saying Ashen DON instead of Ashend’n, and spelling E M M instead of saying Emm, and odd little things like that. Doesn’t bother me. When I’m listening, I’m also reading my text, and correcting any little typos as we go. I’m a good speller, but a rotten typist.

    Reply
  122. Thanks, Quantum. I have played with using other voices — in the Mac program there are lots of choices. I’ve put some of my other writer friends onto using the computer to read back, and each time I talk them through the process, I try out a few other voices, but I
    m picky and I reject some on the grounds of their “personality”. I think what I like about Alex is his complete lack of personality — it’s so basic and “no-nonsense.’
    Alex’s mispronunciations are more in things like saying Ashen DON instead of Ashend’n, and spelling E M M instead of saying Emm, and odd little things like that. Doesn’t bother me. When I’m listening, I’m also reading my text, and correcting any little typos as we go. I’m a good speller, but a rotten typist.

    Reply
  123. Thanks, Quantum. I have played with using other voices — in the Mac program there are lots of choices. I’ve put some of my other writer friends onto using the computer to read back, and each time I talk them through the process, I try out a few other voices, but I
    m picky and I reject some on the grounds of their “personality”. I think what I like about Alex is his complete lack of personality — it’s so basic and “no-nonsense.’
    Alex’s mispronunciations are more in things like saying Ashen DON instead of Ashend’n, and spelling E M M instead of saying Emm, and odd little things like that. Doesn’t bother me. When I’m listening, I’m also reading my text, and correcting any little typos as we go. I’m a good speller, but a rotten typist.

    Reply
  124. Thanks, Quantum. I have played with using other voices — in the Mac program there are lots of choices. I’ve put some of my other writer friends onto using the computer to read back, and each time I talk them through the process, I try out a few other voices, but I
    m picky and I reject some on the grounds of their “personality”. I think what I like about Alex is his complete lack of personality — it’s so basic and “no-nonsense.’
    Alex’s mispronunciations are more in things like saying Ashen DON instead of Ashend’n, and spelling E M M instead of saying Emm, and odd little things like that. Doesn’t bother me. When I’m listening, I’m also reading my text, and correcting any little typos as we go. I’m a good speller, but a rotten typist.

    Reply
  125. Thanks, Quantum. I have played with using other voices — in the Mac program there are lots of choices. I’ve put some of my other writer friends onto using the computer to read back, and each time I talk them through the process, I try out a few other voices, but I
    m picky and I reject some on the grounds of their “personality”. I think what I like about Alex is his complete lack of personality — it’s so basic and “no-nonsense.’
    Alex’s mispronunciations are more in things like saying Ashen DON instead of Ashend’n, and spelling E M M instead of saying Emm, and odd little things like that. Doesn’t bother me. When I’m listening, I’m also reading my text, and correcting any little typos as we go. I’m a good speller, but a rotten typist.

    Reply
  126. Thanks Michelle. You’re so right about a lot of people having multiple outlets for their creativity. I believe we all have creative instincts, but that not all are encouraged, and that some are actively squashed when we’re kids.
    As for series, yes, I think that’s how I discovered them too. I do love it when I discover a new-to-me author with a whole series to glom.

    Reply
  127. Thanks Michelle. You’re so right about a lot of people having multiple outlets for their creativity. I believe we all have creative instincts, but that not all are encouraged, and that some are actively squashed when we’re kids.
    As for series, yes, I think that’s how I discovered them too. I do love it when I discover a new-to-me author with a whole series to glom.

    Reply
  128. Thanks Michelle. You’re so right about a lot of people having multiple outlets for their creativity. I believe we all have creative instincts, but that not all are encouraged, and that some are actively squashed when we’re kids.
    As for series, yes, I think that’s how I discovered them too. I do love it when I discover a new-to-me author with a whole series to glom.

    Reply
  129. Thanks Michelle. You’re so right about a lot of people having multiple outlets for their creativity. I believe we all have creative instincts, but that not all are encouraged, and that some are actively squashed when we’re kids.
    As for series, yes, I think that’s how I discovered them too. I do love it when I discover a new-to-me author with a whole series to glom.

    Reply
  130. Thanks Michelle. You’re so right about a lot of people having multiple outlets for their creativity. I believe we all have creative instincts, but that not all are encouraged, and that some are actively squashed when we’re kids.
    As for series, yes, I think that’s how I discovered them too. I do love it when I discover a new-to-me author with a whole series to glom.

    Reply
  131. Vicki, before I became a word wench I was a regular wenchly reader and one of the reasons I kept coming back to this blog was because of the quality of the discussions in the comment stream. We’re very blessed in our readers and commenters.
    Thanks for that comment about the different names. You’re right, each name throws up different echoes in a person’s mind. I remember the first time it happened to me, I was writing my second book (Tallie’s Knight), and the heroine was Serena, and she was . . . wooden, or at least not the person I’d imagined my heroine to be. She was smooth, unflappable, and a little bit superior. I didn’t like her and I was struggling with her. So then I cast around for different names, and came up with Tallie and instantly this heroine sprang to mind who was warm-hearted, impulsive, and vulnerable and with a whole backstory– nothing like Serena’s — and the story was off and running.

    Reply
  132. Vicki, before I became a word wench I was a regular wenchly reader and one of the reasons I kept coming back to this blog was because of the quality of the discussions in the comment stream. We’re very blessed in our readers and commenters.
    Thanks for that comment about the different names. You’re right, each name throws up different echoes in a person’s mind. I remember the first time it happened to me, I was writing my second book (Tallie’s Knight), and the heroine was Serena, and she was . . . wooden, or at least not the person I’d imagined my heroine to be. She was smooth, unflappable, and a little bit superior. I didn’t like her and I was struggling with her. So then I cast around for different names, and came up with Tallie and instantly this heroine sprang to mind who was warm-hearted, impulsive, and vulnerable and with a whole backstory– nothing like Serena’s — and the story was off and running.

    Reply
  133. Vicki, before I became a word wench I was a regular wenchly reader and one of the reasons I kept coming back to this blog was because of the quality of the discussions in the comment stream. We’re very blessed in our readers and commenters.
    Thanks for that comment about the different names. You’re right, each name throws up different echoes in a person’s mind. I remember the first time it happened to me, I was writing my second book (Tallie’s Knight), and the heroine was Serena, and she was . . . wooden, or at least not the person I’d imagined my heroine to be. She was smooth, unflappable, and a little bit superior. I didn’t like her and I was struggling with her. So then I cast around for different names, and came up with Tallie and instantly this heroine sprang to mind who was warm-hearted, impulsive, and vulnerable and with a whole backstory– nothing like Serena’s — and the story was off and running.

    Reply
  134. Vicki, before I became a word wench I was a regular wenchly reader and one of the reasons I kept coming back to this blog was because of the quality of the discussions in the comment stream. We’re very blessed in our readers and commenters.
    Thanks for that comment about the different names. You’re right, each name throws up different echoes in a person’s mind. I remember the first time it happened to me, I was writing my second book (Tallie’s Knight), and the heroine was Serena, and she was . . . wooden, or at least not the person I’d imagined my heroine to be. She was smooth, unflappable, and a little bit superior. I didn’t like her and I was struggling with her. So then I cast around for different names, and came up with Tallie and instantly this heroine sprang to mind who was warm-hearted, impulsive, and vulnerable and with a whole backstory– nothing like Serena’s — and the story was off and running.

    Reply
  135. Vicki, before I became a word wench I was a regular wenchly reader and one of the reasons I kept coming back to this blog was because of the quality of the discussions in the comment stream. We’re very blessed in our readers and commenters.
    Thanks for that comment about the different names. You’re right, each name throws up different echoes in a person’s mind. I remember the first time it happened to me, I was writing my second book (Tallie’s Knight), and the heroine was Serena, and she was . . . wooden, or at least not the person I’d imagined my heroine to be. She was smooth, unflappable, and a little bit superior. I didn’t like her and I was struggling with her. So then I cast around for different names, and came up with Tallie and instantly this heroine sprang to mind who was warm-hearted, impulsive, and vulnerable and with a whole backstory– nothing like Serena’s — and the story was off and running.

    Reply
  136. I’m dealing with series and spin-offs in a separate comment.
    In my first book the hero’s friend, Francis, threw a larger shadow that a secondary character should, and was an obvious choice for the next books, but my editor at that house didn’t like series, so that was that. I got lots of emails from people asking for his stories.
    These days, when the series has to be proposed in advance, it’s trickier. I need to work out a set up and a cast of characters. What usually happens is that I’ll dream up a strong scene — literally dream — a lot of my strongest scenes have come to me in a dream-like state, either drifting off to sleep or just waking up. With Autumn Bride, for instance, the scene was the one where Abby climbs through the window and finds Lady Beatrice in dire straits.
    So then I have a strong scene, and I poke around in it for possibilities. Who is this girl, why is she climbing through a window, who’s the old lady, how did she get in that state, and what’s going to happen next? And so on. In that book Daisy was a character who sprang to life — she was supposed to me a very minor character, but she said and did things and I thought, I can’t leave her like that, walking away. And she became my fourth heroine.
    It doesn’t always work out as planned, though. Because characters really only emerge in the writing, I’ve sometimes ended up having to change their story or even change the character. In the series that starts with the Autumn Bride, I planned to try a 4 heroes for 4 girls idea, but by the time I got to The Spring Bride, I knew Jane needed a different sort of hero, one who’d bring out the hitherto unrealized strength in her. So I never used Ash. And readers have pointed this out. I do have a Christmas novella in mind for him, but we’ll see what my publisher has to say about that.

    Reply
  137. I’m dealing with series and spin-offs in a separate comment.
    In my first book the hero’s friend, Francis, threw a larger shadow that a secondary character should, and was an obvious choice for the next books, but my editor at that house didn’t like series, so that was that. I got lots of emails from people asking for his stories.
    These days, when the series has to be proposed in advance, it’s trickier. I need to work out a set up and a cast of characters. What usually happens is that I’ll dream up a strong scene — literally dream — a lot of my strongest scenes have come to me in a dream-like state, either drifting off to sleep or just waking up. With Autumn Bride, for instance, the scene was the one where Abby climbs through the window and finds Lady Beatrice in dire straits.
    So then I have a strong scene, and I poke around in it for possibilities. Who is this girl, why is she climbing through a window, who’s the old lady, how did she get in that state, and what’s going to happen next? And so on. In that book Daisy was a character who sprang to life — she was supposed to me a very minor character, but she said and did things and I thought, I can’t leave her like that, walking away. And she became my fourth heroine.
    It doesn’t always work out as planned, though. Because characters really only emerge in the writing, I’ve sometimes ended up having to change their story or even change the character. In the series that starts with the Autumn Bride, I planned to try a 4 heroes for 4 girls idea, but by the time I got to The Spring Bride, I knew Jane needed a different sort of hero, one who’d bring out the hitherto unrealized strength in her. So I never used Ash. And readers have pointed this out. I do have a Christmas novella in mind for him, but we’ll see what my publisher has to say about that.

    Reply
  138. I’m dealing with series and spin-offs in a separate comment.
    In my first book the hero’s friend, Francis, threw a larger shadow that a secondary character should, and was an obvious choice for the next books, but my editor at that house didn’t like series, so that was that. I got lots of emails from people asking for his stories.
    These days, when the series has to be proposed in advance, it’s trickier. I need to work out a set up and a cast of characters. What usually happens is that I’ll dream up a strong scene — literally dream — a lot of my strongest scenes have come to me in a dream-like state, either drifting off to sleep or just waking up. With Autumn Bride, for instance, the scene was the one where Abby climbs through the window and finds Lady Beatrice in dire straits.
    So then I have a strong scene, and I poke around in it for possibilities. Who is this girl, why is she climbing through a window, who’s the old lady, how did she get in that state, and what’s going to happen next? And so on. In that book Daisy was a character who sprang to life — she was supposed to me a very minor character, but she said and did things and I thought, I can’t leave her like that, walking away. And she became my fourth heroine.
    It doesn’t always work out as planned, though. Because characters really only emerge in the writing, I’ve sometimes ended up having to change their story or even change the character. In the series that starts with the Autumn Bride, I planned to try a 4 heroes for 4 girls idea, but by the time I got to The Spring Bride, I knew Jane needed a different sort of hero, one who’d bring out the hitherto unrealized strength in her. So I never used Ash. And readers have pointed this out. I do have a Christmas novella in mind for him, but we’ll see what my publisher has to say about that.

    Reply
  139. I’m dealing with series and spin-offs in a separate comment.
    In my first book the hero’s friend, Francis, threw a larger shadow that a secondary character should, and was an obvious choice for the next books, but my editor at that house didn’t like series, so that was that. I got lots of emails from people asking for his stories.
    These days, when the series has to be proposed in advance, it’s trickier. I need to work out a set up and a cast of characters. What usually happens is that I’ll dream up a strong scene — literally dream — a lot of my strongest scenes have come to me in a dream-like state, either drifting off to sleep or just waking up. With Autumn Bride, for instance, the scene was the one where Abby climbs through the window and finds Lady Beatrice in dire straits.
    So then I have a strong scene, and I poke around in it for possibilities. Who is this girl, why is she climbing through a window, who’s the old lady, how did she get in that state, and what’s going to happen next? And so on. In that book Daisy was a character who sprang to life — she was supposed to me a very minor character, but she said and did things and I thought, I can’t leave her like that, walking away. And she became my fourth heroine.
    It doesn’t always work out as planned, though. Because characters really only emerge in the writing, I’ve sometimes ended up having to change their story or even change the character. In the series that starts with the Autumn Bride, I planned to try a 4 heroes for 4 girls idea, but by the time I got to The Spring Bride, I knew Jane needed a different sort of hero, one who’d bring out the hitherto unrealized strength in her. So I never used Ash. And readers have pointed this out. I do have a Christmas novella in mind for him, but we’ll see what my publisher has to say about that.

    Reply
  140. I’m dealing with series and spin-offs in a separate comment.
    In my first book the hero’s friend, Francis, threw a larger shadow that a secondary character should, and was an obvious choice for the next books, but my editor at that house didn’t like series, so that was that. I got lots of emails from people asking for his stories.
    These days, when the series has to be proposed in advance, it’s trickier. I need to work out a set up and a cast of characters. What usually happens is that I’ll dream up a strong scene — literally dream — a lot of my strongest scenes have come to me in a dream-like state, either drifting off to sleep or just waking up. With Autumn Bride, for instance, the scene was the one where Abby climbs through the window and finds Lady Beatrice in dire straits.
    So then I have a strong scene, and I poke around in it for possibilities. Who is this girl, why is she climbing through a window, who’s the old lady, how did she get in that state, and what’s going to happen next? And so on. In that book Daisy was a character who sprang to life — she was supposed to me a very minor character, but she said and did things and I thought, I can’t leave her like that, walking away. And she became my fourth heroine.
    It doesn’t always work out as planned, though. Because characters really only emerge in the writing, I’ve sometimes ended up having to change their story or even change the character. In the series that starts with the Autumn Bride, I planned to try a 4 heroes for 4 girls idea, but by the time I got to The Spring Bride, I knew Jane needed a different sort of hero, one who’d bring out the hitherto unrealized strength in her. So I never used Ash. And readers have pointed this out. I do have a Christmas novella in mind for him, but we’ll see what my publisher has to say about that.

    Reply
  141. Thanks for a fascinating post, Anne. It’s always enjoyable to this reader to learn what goes on behind the scenes.
    May I ask how we can submit a question to the Wenches for consideration? (I seem to recall seeing a post to that effect in the past but no longer recall if I submitted my query.)

    Reply
  142. Thanks for a fascinating post, Anne. It’s always enjoyable to this reader to learn what goes on behind the scenes.
    May I ask how we can submit a question to the Wenches for consideration? (I seem to recall seeing a post to that effect in the past but no longer recall if I submitted my query.)

    Reply
  143. Thanks for a fascinating post, Anne. It’s always enjoyable to this reader to learn what goes on behind the scenes.
    May I ask how we can submit a question to the Wenches for consideration? (I seem to recall seeing a post to that effect in the past but no longer recall if I submitted my query.)

    Reply
  144. Thanks for a fascinating post, Anne. It’s always enjoyable to this reader to learn what goes on behind the scenes.
    May I ask how we can submit a question to the Wenches for consideration? (I seem to recall seeing a post to that effect in the past but no longer recall if I submitted my query.)

    Reply
  145. Thanks for a fascinating post, Anne. It’s always enjoyable to this reader to learn what goes on behind the scenes.
    May I ask how we can submit a question to the Wenches for consideration? (I seem to recall seeing a post to that effect in the past but no longer recall if I submitted my query.)

    Reply

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