Blood, Sweat and Tears

Writing is one of the hardest and the greatest roller-coaster rides I’ve ever experienced. Sometimes I wonder if it’s a blessing or a curse! Regardless, since writing is in my blood, I can’t not write. So as other authors do, I try to make it as stress-free as possible keeping up with my storyline.
Most times I take an idea and run with it, then try to make sense of pages I’ve written by the seat-of-my-pants. I discovered a few years ago that when life steps up to the plate, I needed more than my memory to actually finish a manuscript. I have written short stories straight through, edited and sent them off to a publisher. My first and a few other short stories were accepted with light editing. Like many authors submitted manuscripts, my others were rejected.
A novel isn’t that easy. There’s too much in the mixture. For me at least. If I know the scene, I can pop it out fairly quickly. That’s the fun part, when the words fill pages without too much blood, sweat and tears. That doesn’t happen too often.
Once an idea forms, I let it perk while my mind accepts characters and plot they’ve drilled inside my head.
I use 4X6 cards to jot down chapter information. Projected Title, Chapter, POV, Characters, Setting, Scene Goal, Scene Conflict, Scene Disaster, Sequel Ending Goal. Once the story begins to come together, I also fill in temporary chapter #’s at the top and page #’s at the very bottom. That way it’s easy to find in the manuscript, if I’ve updated at that point. Updating the cards is painstakingly time-consuming, but crucial if I’m to maintain the story’s organization. At any rate the page #’s and other pertinent information gives an approximate area so I don’t need to search forever to find a certain scene in the manuscript.
Not everything comes at once of course, but the card structure is movable and I can throw away cards at will and begin again when the story begins to jell. You can also play What If with the cards. Throw them down on the floor or table and mix them up. See if a scene will become more powerful elsewhere. Sometimes that procedure works, other times the cards are carefully put back in order. I also have a Whiteboard, but haven’t used it in a while. If you don’t have one, check it out to see if it would work for you.
The biggest thing I’ve learned is – When You Know Your Story – writing becomes easier. Of course I’m talking about the first draft. Simply getting it down. Editing is an entire other basket of eggs. 🙂
What’s your favorite way to write? Could you share what you do to make your writing easier?

A Smoky Mountain Wedding – Book Two, coming soon.
My books are available at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Kobo, Sony, Diesel, Apple and Smashwords.
You can find links on my website, here.

14 thoughts on “Blood, Sweat and Tears

  1. So far, with the current work in progress, nothing is easy. I’ve had books where I wrote 25 pages a day. With this one, I’m lucky if I can manage 3. Which is a problem when I need to be writing 10 to get it done on time.


  2. Usually I have to write the whole scene in my mind before I type it. Once I have the first chapter under control, I prepare an outline for the rest of the book. I always review and edit the last chapter before I allow myself to move to the next one. By the time I finish typing the story, there’s no major revision. Only line editing for typos and spelling are needed. It helps that I have great critique partners who could be excellent editors.


    • That’s kind of what I do. After the first 50 pages or less are drafted, then I can begin to add information to the cards. I had several Excel sheets, but failed to save and lost when my computer crashed a couple of years ago. Awesome critique partners are worth their weight in gold! 🙂


  3. I’m a mega-plotter. Index cards, white board and Excel are my friends. I’m also a linear writer – from once upon a time to they lived happily ever after, so I can’t write a scene out of order.


  4. Carol, you are so right about the writing being/coming more easily when you know your story. For me that takes close to the first 20-30% of working with the characters, even though I know the plot outlines and have done full character profiles. I use sticky notes, photos, note cards for structure and occasionally I even pull out my white board. Man, I’m still looking for more effective ways to write! I think that’s a life-long goal for me :). Wonderful post, thanks!


    • If we can ever find that “one” effective way to write we should bottle it and sell. I think the worst advice I received when I first began to write was, “Stick to your outline. Don’t try to write outside of it.” Well, my characters wanted one thing, I tried sticking to the outline. Took me three years and a lot of grief to finish. The best advice I’ve gotten was, “Find your Voice, Write from the Heart and Allow your Characters to Whisper in your Ear.” It’s a learning process. 🙂


  5. Everyone is so organized! I just fly. I get things going in my mind and then I start writing, but usually not until I have the story start down pat and all the back story in my head. Plus I know where it ends. Then the characters take over and I try to keep up with them. Then I go back through the story adding and tweaking. I’m thinking what is she doing when she’s saying this, what is she seeing, feeling, smelling, etc. Sometimes that’s the hardest part. I’ll go through my stories a dozen times before they ever see an editor. But I’ve never done a major revision. I just like to make certain that the story is told to its fullest. I think readers expect that.


  6. You’re so right about letting the characters take over. When I wrote A Smoky Mountain Christmas, Sandra Bullock and the characters she portrays stuck inside my head. It was like a movie playing inside my head. Sandra Bullock was my inspiration for Tina. I’m excited you have a new book coming out in November!


  7. There will never be one way to write a book unless human beings become automatons with uniform brains. Ain’t gonna happen. We are all individuals with our own idiosyncrasies, and those idiosyncrasies determine how we do just about everything.


    • Absolutely. Uniform brains would produce boring writing! I don’t want to read those books. Whenever and whatever we work toward to get the stories out, has to be comfortable for each of us.


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