On Novel: My Writing Process
Author JC Layne
You know that quote from a poem by Robert Burns that says, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry?” For me, this quote says it all!
The following diagram explains my writing process:
Usually, the story comes first and then the characters develop as I write. The story may begin as a passing thought or idea and then it grows; i.e. I knew a production studio could be a wonderful setting for character interaction. Don’t be surprised if some characters take on a bigger role than planned!
I start with a high level outline of the story line, jotting down ideas like major scenes, ideas or events that I want to happen in the story. I don’t use any specific structure when I write, I’ve found that everything flows better if the story organically develops. I’m very left-brained about things and if I have a strict outline, I feel like I have to force the story into that box. The result SUCKS!
My characters guide my story to where they want it to go. None of my books have ended up like I expected. Initially, I fought where the characters were taking me when writing Perfect Timing, but ultimately, they won out. That book and Missing a Beat turned out much darker than I intended. Parts were difficult to write, but I think the stories ended up better than my original ideas!
I like readers to know characters’ quirks, humor, their habits, etc. Most start with a blank slate, but for certain characters, I may have a strong idea of what they will look like. For instance, Mitch in my Back on Track series looks like a particular musician that I love.
I keep a list of all characters and their details. Physical attributes like hair color, eye color, height, etc. Then, other attributes like nervous habits, laugh, facial expressions. Finally, anything I’ve mentioned like parents’ names, birth dates, ages. I learned the hard way that not keeping track as I go causes a lot of wasted time to find details.
People ask if there are specific places or times when I write or if I have rituals or quirks. I write when the creative juices are flowing, whether that’s at lunch on my day job or in the evenings. Some days, I couldn’t write a sentence if I had to. I just walk away, rather than get frustrated. When I write, I do talk to my characters…and yes, they talk back. So, either I’m not very stable, or my characters are pains in the ass!
Advice for new writers:
- Don’t force anything, let your imagination work.
- If you’re blocked, walk away, then come back to it. Again, don’t force it.
- Just get it down on paper! Don’t leave it in your head. Getting something down is better than forgetting the idea. It doesn’t have to be good…it just has to be captured.
- Pay the money to have your work edited. Not just read through, but edited. You’ve put your heart and soul into it…let it be correct. Books that have typos and grammar issues detract from the story. There are some reasonably priced editors out there. (If you need an editor, please shoot me an email and I’ll give you my editor’s info.)
- Find a great cover artist! Covers are the first things the reader sees. (If you need a cover artist, shoot me an email and I’ll give you the info for mine.)
I am an indie author. I haven’t ventured into the world of publishing companies, sadly because I’ve heard so many horror stories. Perhaps one day I’ll give that a try, but right now, I’ll stay self-published. Whatever you choose, be true to yourself. This is your baby…don’t forget that.
Feel free to message me on Facebook or email me if you have questions. Good luck on your future venture! Kick ass!!!
J.C. Layne is a relatively new author with three books under her belt so far. A bit of an author conundrum, she has a very left-brained degree from the University of South Carolina and spends her days swimming around in numbers. But, her right brain demands to be heard…and now it is! For 12 years, J.C. has interviewed bands and written articles and CD reviews for various music publications. Her love and knowledge of music combined with her love of books led her to write fiction about hot rock stars and falling in love.
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*Thank you Jennifer, I really enjoyed reading your article. There are real diamonds for any author, aspiring or published.