Chapter 3 - Starting the process, where OCD takes over

So, right now you know I have an idea, an outline and I have two main characters. You might be interested to know what my plan for them is and how the process continues. Now it's time for me to tell you without hopefully giving too much away, this is going to be a fine balance to find!  

Here we go:

What would you do if the love of your life didn't know who you were? What if he forgot you? Forgot the first time you met, your first kiss, the day he proposed and the day you married?  What if six months after your perfect start it was all taken away in the blink of an eye?

So this is where we start,  if you ever read any of my work you will find I spend a lot of time dealing with "What if" which are two very plain words but put them together and their impact can be volcanic.  

In this story there are a lot of what if elements, it's like walking along a road and coming to a fork every mile or so with a choice that needs to be made and in order to do that my characters have to have support.  

I started in my rough outline with seven main supporting characters, since I started writing this cast has grown, and will continue to grow as I go.  

In order not to confuse myself as I'm currently working on three novels I have to keep my work well organised. In general I'm an organised person, possibly verging on OCD but in my defence my day job is to keep a group of unorganised people organised  and it spills over! 

When I'm writing,  I tend to work mostly on the computer, however, I do have a note book for each book I write just in case I need to jot something down when away from my PC.   I also have a spare note book which I jot down general reminders, lists, ideas in everyday life.  If I ever did one of those 'what's in my bag' videos you will always find a note book!

So for each book I write I have a file on my PC, which is filled with documents.  This is a list of the documents I usually have, depending on the book depends on the order of the documents.  

In this case, The Poppy Garden file has the following documents; 

1. Cast List - this is where I keep a list of my characters and if I have an actor in mind i have a picture of them with a brief line or two with key facts about this person and their role in the story.  The detail can range from Background info (Age, Birth Place, Job, Accent) to Every Day Rituals (How they take their tea).  The information will vary character to character and will be expanded on as I continue in the story.  It gives me a quick reference guide to refresh my memory and direction if I've been working on another project or if I've been unable to write for a few days or just if that character doesn't appear in the story as much as someone else. 

2. Synopsis - This is the outline I have for the story, its not the blurb you'd read on the back of the book to tantalise you it's more like the story told in a quick and dirty fashion from beginning to end.  It's my guide, or my rambling initial idea that just poured out of my head through my fingers and may not make total sense or follow exact time lines.  It's a document I go back to every now and then when writing to remind me of where I was going and what my initial thought process was. 

Now this is something I tend to do for every book I write, however when I'm working on a series, such as my Jonah Axe Novel's I might only have a paragraph outline telling me basic details because a lot of things are already established from previous books.  I don't always write the synopsis first either.  With the Poppy Garden it did happen first because this wasn't a book I was intending to write right now but life throws up little hiccoughs every now and then and I prefer to go with the flow.  I also have a file, naturally, of what I call Randoms, which is all the ideas that pop in to my head that may or may not one day turn in to a novel. 

3. The Poppy Garden Manifesto - this is unique to this story.  Part of the story involves creating a business plan to create The Poppy Garden so I had develop the business idea which I feel would work in real life as well as in my book. This lends some realism to the story and also gave me a greater connection with my characters in order for me to tell what I hope is a more honest and realistic story.  

4. Jacket Cover - this is where I start jotting ideas for the book jacket, the blurb on the cover which  entices you to buy and to turn the first page by the end of which I hope your hooked enough to turn to page 2! 

5.  Prologue - This is pretty self explanatory I write this out and keep it separate from my chapters and then go back and re edit it to fit in with the flow of the story.  Sometimes as the writing progresses the prologue changes to fit the story.  As I write chronologically the first thing I write usually is the prologue and then go in to chapters so often it's a starting point to be fleshed out once the bulk of the story is written.  

6. Draft Book - This is the main document where I write Chapter by Chapter.  This is my working copy of the novel.  I try to keep to a template format for books, if you are looking for one Createspace  and Smashwords have a great templates and advice on layout.  There's also a lot of books out there with advice on how to lay out your novel.  Or you can simply create your own based on the style of book your writing.  Take some time look at some hard copy or e copy books and learn from other writers. 
Initially, when I started writing many moons ago, I didn't follow a standard format I simple wrote in word or older word processing programmes page after page then if I ever got to the end which when I started out wasn't something that happened very often I would go back and tidy things up.  Now I tend to start with a template and stick as close to it as I can as it saves time for me when I'm editing. 

7. Rough Scene Ideas - this is a notes document,  Sometimes I imagine scenes out of order, or have great lines of dialogue which I don't want to forget.  So I note them down in a document which I can then copy and paste from at a later time when I'm ready for them in the draft document.  

So this is how many documents I have right now, as the process moves on I will then have editing copies, dedication, cover art and different formats for the platforms I use to publish which I will discuss when we get there!  

If you have any questions about my process for this or any of my other novels, or if you want to share you own create process please leave a message in the comments! 


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