Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Process of Writing a Novel by Elizabeth Seckman



Today Elizabeth Seckman is taking over as part of her Healing summer blog tour. Check out her blog here. I absolutely love reading up on Liz and what she's doing, so go check it out, you will not be disappointed. Liz recently released the second book in her Coulter men series, Healing Summer, and as part of her blog tour, she decided to stop here! (I'm so excited!)

 I’m sure you have all figured out by now that I’m absolutely obsessed with the process of writing a novel. I think it’s because I’m hoping that someone can tell me, “No, no, no, if you just do it like this you’ll write a perfect novel on the first go round!” Admittedly, I’d probably tell such a person to stick it in their tax file (you know, where the sun don’t shine…) and keep writing just the way I like. In the meantime I love listening to other authors talk about how they craft novels, and this is what Liz said when I asked her about how she crafts her novels.


My writing process is probably much like most other writers. It starts with an idea, which I allow to grow on its own. I don’t usually write anything at this point. I just ponder on it while mowing the lawn or doing the dishes. Once it starts to jell into something that resembles a plot, I write down a quick synopsis: the story in a nutshell. 

Then I make a timeline. I want the story to start here and end there. I decide what I want the characters to learn…you know that theme teachers hounded us to find in stories? Well, I like to decide early on what that will be.  

So, now I know what my story is about and I have an outline. I’m almost ready to write.
For each new story, I get a spiral notebook, a folder, and a coupon holder. In the notebook, I make notes and ideas for scenes…maybe bits of conversation. In the folder, I keep research and other tidbits that might be useful later. In the coupon holder, I keep note cards with character sketches and details (I got this tip from a fellow blogger and it’s genius!). No more forgetting a minor characters name, viola…at my finger-tips!

Now I write. The first draft is done without edits. I go straight through. Beginning to end. At times, an idea I think would work great in an earlier chapter will strike… I’ll scribble that in my notebook…”need to add back story for twist in chapter ten in chapter two”, or something like that, but I don’t go back. It’s the forward progress rule. All things move forward. 

Then I’m done, all but the twists. Add those and I’m really done.

I put it away and go on to another manuscript.

After about three months, or when I’m certain the story is good and cold, I read back over it. Not to edit, but to read. What parts of the story are good…what has to go. Here is where I cut and chop and get the plot the way I want it. I squeeze in my red herrings, my foreshadowing, and other literary mumbo jumbo I hope makes me look smart.

Then I put it away again.

Once it’s again cooled, I start to edit. This time, in my notebook I write a summary of each chapter and make a note of anything that needs researched or fact checked.

Then when I think it makes sense. I send it to readers. Not Betas. Readers. You know those non-writer types who just read for fun? I want to check the plot before I worry about the style. Do readers like the characters enough to care what happens to them? Are the plot lines believable or are they trite? I ask readers to note all the places they stop reading and why. I only want them to put it down because their kitchen caught on fire.

Once I have their feedback. I tweak the story. 

Then I send it to my Betas. Then I edit it again. And again and again.


I admit, this is the process I strive for, but I find I still do ninja edits, you know where you go back in during the hands off phase and tweak things. Thanks to Liz for coming over to talk about her process! Healing Summer is now available here and here, and don’t forget to check out Elizabeth at her blog and on facebook. Thanks again for stopping by!

Healing Summer

Maybe Love, Not Time, Heals All Wounds
Ditched at the altar…biopsied for cancer…Mollie Hinkle is having a bona fide bitch of a summer. When life sucks so hard it takes your breath away, what's a girl to do? Pack a bag, grab a few friends, and leave the past and the worry in the rear view mirror. What wounds can’t be healed by a drive across the Heartland, where quarter flips at cross roads determine the route and the future? All roads lead to Craig, the second son and bad boy of the haughty Coulter line. Has fate brought her to the miniscule Montana town to find happily ever after or will it just break her heart?
“Healing Summer” is the second book in the Coulter Men Series.








Found here on Amazon and Goodreads  

Healing Summer Blog Tour 

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39 comments:

  1. Elizabeth is hardcore! I cannot leave anything for three months - I have a hard enough time leaving things for three days!

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    1. I have to leave it. If it's too familiar, I totally miss all its flaws!

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    2. I know, Elizabeth is absolutely hardcore. I have to jump through all kinds of hoops to trick myself into leaving a manuscript alone for three hours let alone three months!

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    3. Really? I guess it helps that I have several working at the same time. It's like cleaning house. Clean a room, move onto another knowing full well the kids are tearing it up and you'll be back tomorrow to tidy it up again.

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    4. Ha! Those are *exactly* the hoops I have to use. By having a whole pile of projects going, I can just barely manage to set one aside for a while. How funny.

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    5. Distraction...works on toddlers and writers!

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  2. That's a good process. When I am finished with my story, I'll have to look for readers first.

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    1. I think it's good to know if the plot works before I start attacking style and such.

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    2. Readers are the best. I love sending my stuff out into the world, though it can be daunting. Good luck.

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  3. Replies
    1. No problem! Thanks for coming. I love to talk about how people put their novels together. It makes me feel hopeful that I'm not as crazy as I think I am.

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  4. Kyra and I are in the same boat. Congrats to you, Elizabeth for having a process that works for you and for getting your book out there.

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    1. I know, Elizabeth is very disciplined in that vein, but I think it really helps a novel. At least it really helps me when I can manage it.

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    2. I might have a plan for manuscripts, now I need a plan for blogging, marketing, and keeping my house cleaned!

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  5. very organized & methodical! love that!
    i am similar, but lack a theme until later. i'm contrary like that! hated finding & writing themes. then i realize i need one and usually see it without trying too hard =)

    nice post ladies!

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    1. Themes are sort of strange for me. I never, ever, ever set out with a theme in mind. When I get to the end, there is ALWAYS some major theme, usually something big from my life, just hanging on the laundry line waiting for the world to see.

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    2. I guess I need to know the "what is it about" early because I'm still a kid who always wants to know "why".

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  6. holy cow, who would have that you are a neat freak when it comes to writing? i love it!! but um...can you do my lawn and dishes to, while i write...that might work better for me.

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    1. No doubt. Maybe I should start a business, I could be the writing faerie. I'll clean house while people write... too bad I'm hundreds of miles from almost all my writer buddies.

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    2. You're hired Rena!!!! I could use a house cleaning faerie!

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    3. Do I really seem like a neat freak? I always thought I was scattered because I can't do it right in a first, or second, or third, or fourth...um you get my point...time around.

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  7. A very thorough process. I just kind of wing it myself. Outline, start to finish, then write, write, write. Out it goes to the CPs. No betas for me. Only CPs will do. I need experienced writers. Then revise, revise, revise to a shiny polished story! Not too different. Except I'm not nearly as patient as you are. Guess I could learn a lot from you.

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    1. Your way seems to be working just fine! Don't fix what isn't broken.

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    2. I agree with Elizabeth! Don't fix what isn't broken.

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  8. Elizabeth, I'm totally envious of your organized way of writing! I also sooo want to be a writer that can refrain from editing a story until it's finished! But, we both know that will never happen, lol. You rock! :)

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    1. Me organized? Chick I know for a fact that your first draft looks like my third!

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    2. Thanks for stopping by Celeste!

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  9. I always go backwards and forwards, I can't help myself. If I'm excited about a scene, I'll write it. Elizabeth's method probably gets the novel written quicker than mine though. I did have to write a list of dead people today because I killed off the same person three times d'oh!

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    1. LOL...that's too funny. I kept changing a girl's hair color. The betas thought I was writing about triplets. As for going back and forth, if I go back, I get writer's block. I look at the mess and it overwhelms me and I can't shut off that little voice in my head that whispers, "you sorta suck."

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    2. EEEK! You killed the same person three times! that is fantastic. It reminds me of those low budget movies where they keep reusing the same extras, so you have a scene where they're all dead, and then in the next scene they're fighting for the other army. My favorite!

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  10. A coupon holder! What a great idea!

    And another Liz! Hooray!

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    1. It is a regal name, huh Liz?!!

      And yes, the coupon holder is GREAT!! I think I got that from Jess Stork, but as soon as I say that, I might be wrong and then I've offended someone.

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    2. It's funny that the coupon holder is getting so much air time, I totally went shopping for one today (nerd with a new organization tool, i'm in heaven).

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    3. LMAO I am sure whoever won't be offended. I've bought tons of thick notebooks for books before, but they're all half empty. I am a HUGE fan of index cards. I also punch a hole in the end and stick them on a ring, so I know this coupon holder thing might work better.

      I am the Liz with the Zombies, btw. Rena is the Liz with the Dragons. :D

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  11. LOVE the coupon holder idea.

    " It’s the forward progress rule. All things move forward. " Such great advice - advice I need to have stuck to my computer screen!

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    1. Glad I could be of help Daisy. I'm flattered to be stick note worthy!!!

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    2. It is fantastic advice, and thanks for stopping by Daisy!

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  12. You definitely plot out your novels quite well Liz. No wonder you do such nice work.

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