Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Christina Freeburn's Writing Process

Over the years, my process has changed. I used to be a solely seat-of-the-pants writer, which meant I sat at the computer knowing the heroines and hero, the basic plot, and an idea of who did it and told myself 'Start'. I did get books completed that way but spent a lot of time reworking them. I always had to go back to begin and do a total rewrite because the beginning never went with the editing as the whole plot shifted and twisted away from me.

I'm trying to 'write smarter' as I have a couple of books a year I need to get done so have started outlining. Now, not the high school kind of outline because ... well ... that seems like 'work' to my brain and then the creative portion doesn't want to cooperate. A few years ago, I started using a software program called The Snowflake Pro. I love it. It gives me a wonderful balance to the seat-of-the-pants style that encourages my creativity and an outline which helps me to focus.

When I find myself stuck at a point in my manuscript, I've learned it means there's something I got wrong. If I go back a few chapters, I'll find the problem and once fixed can move forward. Usually it's the fact that I had the hero or heroine behave in contrary to what I've established and need to either change the action or dialogue, or make the motivation clear.

The biggest help for me in taking writing seriously was how I talked about writing a book. Instead of saying "I dream of writing a book", I started saying "My goal is to write a book". It's funny, but once I used goal instead of dream, I found myself spending more time writing and working toward it. For the most part, dreams happen to us while goals are what we actively work to achieve.

Deciding to write a novel can seem daunting so break up the steps needed to complete your dream into mini-goals. When I was having trouble getting started on a recent book, I went back to this method and found the process easier and more doable. Even after writing a few books, I still at times wonder if I'm able to do it again. The first thing I do is decide what type of book I'm writing. Okay, that's easy right now as I'm writing romantic suspense.

Next, is the theme ... or heart ... of the book. What will be biggest struggle for my characters? Usually once I figure out the 'heart' pains (the romance conflict) the hero and heroine are either working through or clutching for dear life, the suspense part of the plot naturally comes from or weaves into the romance. After that comes the title, as I'm a 'title' girl and need to have one in order to start the book. The title sets the theme and mood for the story so I'll go through a couple before a find the right one. By the time I type Chapter One, I've already completed four steps and find those small 'victories' to give me a boost to go on to the next part.

Turning each chapter into its own separate goal also helps when I'm struggling. Even with an outline, it can seem like an endless task to get to the end of the novel but taking on each chapter as it comes makes the process easier and more doable. I know I can finish the chapter even if I doubt if I can finish the book.

I hope in the New Year everyone who has the dream of writing a book or a short story starts down their path to completing their goal. I can't wait to read your story!


Penny Arnold said...

Dear Chris,
Thank you for the wonderful insight you gave us on your "writing process". I especially love and found useful your thought's on dreams vs. goals! I think I will use that in my own goals/dream issues. Love Penny

Anonymous said...

Hi Chris, I enjoyed your input on how to write a story. Sometimes I am overwhelmed with my writing.
I hope to finish my first story by the beginning of next year..
I found your info very helpful. I love being your friend, too.
Debbie Crim

Anne Patrick said...

Congratulations Penny, Chris informed me you were the winner in her drawing!

I want to thank everyone who dropped by this month in support of Christine. I really enjoyed her posts and I'm sure you all did too.