So there I was, happily working away on my current writing project when I overhear my son talking to his Minecraft friends. I will never understand the appeal of Minecraft but, hey, he’s building things and I suppose there are worse games he could love.
Anyway, he says; “Let’s build the castle of three kings!”
My fingers hesitated over the keyboard.
Castle of three kings? That’s a great title. It leaves so many questions in the air, makes me want to know what’s going on.
Why are there three kings?
How did they come to this shared castle agreement?
That night, I thank my son for the idea he’s given me. He looks a little bewildered and asks; “What idea?”
“The castle of three kings. I’m going to write a book using that title. There are just too many possibilities and I need to know where it goes.”
My son is delighted by this and insists that there needs to be a boy named Kevin in it. Apparently he likes the name Kevin and gives me the stink-eye that says he wishes that were his real name.
Alas, he’s stuck with what I’ve given him, but I can certainly have a character named Kevin in the book.
That night, as I lay drifting off to sleep, the story begins to unfold for me. I see the castle with its three towers, each of equal height looming over a large courtyard. I see crypts and cobwebs and a woman wielding magic over a stone. I see the curse that keeps these people here, and Kevin as he is unwittingly thrust into their story.
The next morning I tell my husband about it, who is unceasingly supportive and patient even though I know most of this doesn’t make sense yet.
But I don’t write.
I keep working on my current project, letting the castle and its kings simmer in the back of my mind. During this time – which lasts months – I learn more about this curse and what it means. I see the social structure within this world and all the obstacles Kevin must face when he gets there.
Finally, I write the first half of an outline. Not a full outline, just the first few chapters. I’ll learn more about where the book needs to go after I start working.
I set the outline aside and continue with my current project. But when I pull up my calendar, I put a start date of March 1st. Work continues on the current project, but at night as I sleep I’m still playing with Kevin, learning his quirks and his ambitions.
When March 1st arrives, I review the outline and finally start writing. I had a couple of false starts in February, trying to find the tone and voice of the character, but here is where I begin the rough draft.
In the past, rough drafts have taken me six to eight months to complete. Now I’m hoping to have a completed draft of Castle of Three Kings by June 1st. At which point, the novel will be set aside for several weeks and I will work on another project before starting the editing process.
Second drafts are where I feel like a real author. First drafts are a bit like pulling teeth these days, but once they’re done and I know the ultimate shape of the story, I can get to work.
Between the third and fourth drafts I start hunting for places to submit the novel, but that’s not a set number. I’ve done as many as 8 drafts before and, while I can’t say it was enjoyable, it was necessary and I learned a lot about the craft through it.
I think a lot of authors will agree with me in saying that I never quite feel done with a novel. There’s always something I can improve on, but there comes a point where I have to step back and let go. But each novel is different and I’m still learning how to get a feel for when that moment is.
Check out what my fellow authors have to say about their personal writing process in this month’s Round Robin Discussion…
Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
A.J. Maguire https://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/ (YOU ARE HERE)
Marci Baun http://www.marcibaun.com/blog/
Connie Vines http://mizging.blogspot.com/
Anne de Gruchy https://annedegruchy.co.uk/category/blog/
Helena Fairfax http://www.helenafairfax.com/blog
Margaret Fieland http://margaretfieland.wordpress.com
Dr. Bob Rich https://wp.me/p3Xihq-1dm
Fiona McGier http://www.fionamcgier.com/
Rhobin L Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com