In my first post, I went over a little bit on my writing process and the genres I write and for this post I want to expand a little more.
For me it all starts with the character. Sometimes I just listen to a song or a watch a person walk by in the grocery story and BOOM a character appears. The thing about every character is that they are fuzzy and to be quite honest, I have no idea the name or plot or anything about it. All I know is that there is this character in my head that needs a story. But for every story, the mood of the song or whatever triggered this character to appear will literally set the mood of the genre I will write in. It’s like every character is in the middle of flying things and I need to create the setting before moving forward:
For every fantasy book that I start, regardless of how much it pains me, I start with the world instead of my beloved character.
I start with a little checklist:
- Politics and country: Is this a monarchy? Who rules the countries? How many countries? How many rulers?
- Magic systems: Does every country have a different magic system? What are the limitations? Is this something they will be persecuted for, or is it revered?
- Currency and balance: Is it peaceful among countries? What are imbalances between countries or magic systems? Who is the most powerful country and why?
Once that is set and done, I move on to Main Characters:
- Where do my main characters live at? Why there? What would they do if they lived differently?
- What is her or his limitation?
- Who are their friends?
- What are their strengths and weaknesses? (In this part, I shamelessly use the zodiac signs to look for traits! Sorry not sorry)
For paranormal is not that is a little bit easier, but I find it more linear that fantasy. Paranormal Romance to me is not the same as Urban Fantasy, but that is a debate for another occasion.
I set my paranormal books either in a city or an academy and for this genre, I start with:
Creatures. (What are they? Witches? Demons? Werewolves? Vampires? Angels?)
And I go back to the same thing as magic systems: limitations and persecution or reverence.
Where do my Main characters fall into? Typically, in here, I already know if it’s going to be a forbidden romance/enemies to lovers or friends to lovers kind of book.
This is the most difficult genre for me and the most regarding as well. At least for me.
When I write a contemporary romance novel, for me, the most important thing is the character evolution. I still want a good plot, but typically the plot is going to be within their character evolution and redemption (Typically is rebirth plot whereas Fantasy/Paranormal I typically aim for quest, voyage and return plots).
The setting is real life and even though it is escapism, the issues I have my characters go through hold a meaning to me. I try to be as realistic as possible and that is the reason it is a little more difficult for me. With fantasy and paranormal I can bend some rules because I am the one creating them. Contemporary is real life and I want to do justice for each character.
For contemporary, I go more in depth than the other two genres. For example, I go into mental health, triggers, initial issues and where I want my character to end up (mentally that is) at the end of the novel.
Technically, the other two genres go through the same, but for contemporary there is no battle against kingdoms or covens. The battle my characters have to face throughout the entire book is the one within themselves.
The next parts, regardless of the genre I am writing, tend to be fairly similar throughout:
Here is where my main character comes into action. For me, the incident event is the pivotal moment in a story why the main character is the MAIN character. In this part I go back and ask: What happens to the character that is going to drive the story? I write romance so I bring other main characters and ask: why are they not together? What is keeping them apart? I find that fantasy for me at least is easier to come up with answers and at the same time is harder for me to condense all the things that are separating them in one book.
After I have all my questions, I move on to outline chapter by chapter. I was a pantser by heart, but I learned to be a plotter and a pantser. I still let my imagination run wild, but I find myself more structured when I have an outline.
What do I mean by that? If I am writing a 95k book, I try to aim for 2300 words per chapter. So in my word document I literally type Chapter 1- 41 and Epilogue.
Once that is set and done, I write one to three sentences below the heading of each chapter. It is a baseline and is only the things I know I need to address in that chapter to move the story. How I get there doesn’t matter, I just need those 3 sentences to happen.
Believe it or not, this part is super hard for me. I will always give my main characters a happy ending. The main problem is does it fall flat or is it well rounded? And will the reader feel satisfaction?
I always try to wrap every issue that my character faces throughout the story and the ending itself is more like the wrap up of the character arc. For example, even though romance is a huge part of my book, the characters have found their way back or to each other a few chapters before the last chapter. The last chapter is them being content with everything they have accomplished together and by themselves. The epilogue will give the reader and myself a glimpse of how the characters are doing in the future.
Once that is done, I write THE END. I reward myself with iced coffee, a piece of cake and ice cream.
I tend to edit while I write my first draft and typically is fairly clean as far as there are not that many plot holes, since I had already addressed them before.
I read my book one more time and add more description of scenes I want to tighten out and after that I use ProWritingAid for my grammar horrors.
Once the grammar is checked, I send it to my beta readers and wait for their feedback. I realized that by following this steps I write with purpose and the story gets completed faster. (I started with an idea back at the end of February and I just finished the draft last week! This book took me a little longer and it was mainly because it was super personal and it was a darker tone than what I usually write.)
And that is all!
As always, I leave you with a quote:
“A piece of writing is only worth doing if you’re a different person at the end of the process than you were at the beginning.” By Brian Morton.
Alexandra Garcia is an aspiring YA/NA Fantasy, Contemporary and Paranormal Romance author. She currently lives in Texas with her 2 pups: Jett and Maggie. She is currently writing her 4th WIP (Work in Progress) and just like all her novels she is a constant work in progress.
You can find her here:
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