Creation of a Novel

How do you do it?  Authors get asked that a lot.  Where do the ideas come from?  Where do you find the time?  One thing people often don't ask--that is ideally never asked if it's done well--is how a novel actually gets written, the pure mechanics of weaving together multiple storylines and characters, how it flows seamlessly.

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Here's a glimpse into my process, for a story that spans at least five books at the moment, and is currently tracking the lives of Shawn, Clarence, Amy, and Angus in modern day Scotland and America, and Niall, Christina, MacDougall, and the evil Simon Beaumont in14th century Scotland.

For various reasons, the scenes within this manuscript have ended up a little more 'scattered,' than in previous novels, rather than being fairly close to their final order.  Regardless, in previous novels, I've done a similar thing, where at some point, I find my brain doesn't function just skipping through the manuscript to read all of Niall's story in order.  In theory it should.  Just skip those parts in between, right?

In practice, it just doesn't, not for me.  So I pull the scenes out, and re-group them, as seen here.  The thick pile is the whole manuscript (or at least 218 pages of it.)  The smaller piles with sticky notes are various outlines of individuals' lives, time frames, and historical events of the years 1316 to 1318 and the individual storylines: Niall's story; What Simon is up to; Shawn, Amy, and Angus.  I'll spend part of today separating the whole book out into these individual stories, and spend the next week or so (or, let's be honest, my entire Christmas break at least) editing individual storlines. 

The goal is, during Christmas break, to finish reading and editing each one, and then weave them all back together.  Because nothing says Christmas Cheer like a Medieval Madman!

If you're a writer, how do you work with large manuscripts?  What helps you get a clearer picture of the whole story and multiple storylines?

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Comments

  1. I know what you mean about writing one of two parallel stories at a time. I couldn't do it, either, in Triton's Call, where the two plots are in the same time, but in different locations. It amazes me how seamlessly your stories knit together in the final product. Until I wrote my own, I never gave the process much thought. You do a great job describing the process. Thanks!

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  2. Thank you! I agree--I never thought about how authors put together these stories until I did it. You read a book and it seems like it really couldn't have gone any other way. Thank you!

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