Wednesday, October 5, 2011

My Pondering Process

A little over a week ago, I turned a book into my editor. There's nothing more satisfying than turning a manuscript in on time. I've had a hectic schedule this year trying to finish several novels, but now all at once I find I have finished the books I'd planned, and I'm in the pondering stage. 

Pondering is an important step in the writing process. You need to think about characters, plot points, and if the idea you've come up with is really a story you want to be married to for the duration.

Characters . . .
What's a story without three-dimensional, believable characters? You want a main character who will learn and grow as the story develops. And you want secondary characters who will balance with your main character. I'm going to work on another romantic suspense, so I also want a hero who will challenge my heroine. For my next novel, I'm leaning towards a reserved main character who is a picture book writer and illustrator. She's had tragedy in her life and suffered a breakdown. But as the book opens she's putting her life back together when another tragedy occurs that makes her doubt her sanity once again. And for the hero, I think I'll have another rancher. This time he'll be a widower who has a little girl. And I think his cantankerous mother will live with him. The villain? I know who it is, but I don't want to give anything away. I'm still fleshing out characters, but this is feeling good so far.

Plot points . . .
I used to think if I had the beginning and ending of my story I was good to go, but I have come to appreciate outlining more and more. Plus, with suspense, I like to map out where I want to add red-herrings and where and when I need them. I love suspense that makes you feel as though the bad guy has been caught and then out of the blue the real villain appears. For this new novel, I'm going to work the story around seven plot points that will build to the climax with each one feeding into the next. Think of it as a seven-step staircase. 

Is this the story I want to be married to?
To be truthful, I don't know right now. I'm going to write my plot points on my white board, toy around with the characters I think will help convey the theme I want for this novel, and if everything falls into place, I think it will be. But I'm not quite ready to say "I do."

See I'm still in the pondering process. Should be here for another week or so.

What do you do while pondering a story idea? Do you think of plot first or characters? Do you have plot points? Do you work with a theme? Please feel free to give me and other writers some pondering guidance.



  1. Oh, pondering is so good. I'm thinking of starting another project for Nano. These are great suggestions. Thanks Kathi! ;)

  2. Carolyn,

    Hmm, maybe I should do Nano this year. Might help me finish this new novel.

  3. Oh, I love a story with red herrings and unexpected villains.

    I just posting on plotting too -- I'm also in pondering mode. I think plot ideas come to me first... characters come to me much slower.

  4. Margo:
    For me it depends on the book. Sometimes plot comes first and sometimes I can't get a character out of my mind so I write a story around him/her. Writing sure makes life interesting.



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