Missy Tippens, here. Welcome to my writing life! First off, I want to share some exciting news. This week, I made another sale to Love Inspired!! The book will be out in early 2012. :) To celebrate, today I’ll be giving away a book of the winner’s choice in a drawing—either one of my last two books or your choice of a Love Inspired book from e-harlequin. And don’t forget to comment to be entered in the Kindle giveaway! (See all contest rules on sidebar)
Okay, now on to a typical writing day in the Tippens household…
|Missy's Coffee Corner and favorite mug|
Once I feed my four-legged babies, I start the coffee: extra-bold with lots of Italian Sweet Cream and Splenda. Then I drink coffee and watch a little Good Morning America while making sure my two-legged kids are managing to get ready for school at a decent pace. Once they head out, I turn off the TV and settle in to write.
Well… so maybe I don’t quite get started yet. I usually have to check email so I won’t fret about whether or not there’s something important in my inbox. :) Then I get to work and go until lunchtime. I start back up again until late afternoon when I panic and realize I need to pick up my son in ten minutes and still haven’t had a shower! (By the way, he’s assured me he’d rather me show up with my grungy clothes and greasy, bed-head hair than to shower and be late. But I just can’t bring myself to do it.
) And no! No photos of me in this state. I'm only sharing a posed shot (although is's after a long day at the regional cross country tournament).
|Missy posing in her typical working spot.|
After picking up both kids, I usually continue to work while they do their homework. (Of course, if it’s cross country or tennis season, this all changes.) I quit around 5 or 6 when they start asking what we’re having for dinner—and I realize I don’t have anything thawed out. Frozen pizzas and spaghetti are staples around here! After dinner I often spend more time visiting blogs and answering email.
So now that you’ve seen a typical day, I’ll share a little of how I write a book. Of course, it’s varied from book to book as I try new methods and work to improve my weaknesses. When I start a proposal (3 chapters and a synopsis), I try to first come up with a one-liner. Something that would be a good elevator pitch for an editor. And I expand that into a blurb. Sounding a little like Randy Ingermanson’s Snowflake method?? :) Yep. I bought his software and work with it.
|Missy's favorite how-to books/DVD's|
Then I start character work. I’m not a spreadsheet person like Pam, but I’m the Queen of Charts. :) I use the Magic Conflict Chart from Carolyn Greene’s Prescription for Plotting notebook (combined with Deb Dixon’s GMC chart). I use some of the worksheets from Break Into Fiction (Love and Buckham). I do some of the work in Alicia Rasley’s The Story Within Guidebook. Then once I have a pretty good idea of who my characters are, I do some more worksheets in Prescription for Plotting. At some point, I also look at what the moral premise will be (using a worksheet I made after reading Stanley Williams’s The Moral Premise.)
This is about the time I’m dying to start writing. So I go ahead and dive in to write the 3 chapters. Once they’re done, I work using the Paradigm worksheet from the Greene notebook to come up with the major plot points. It’s a huge help in writing the synopsis. Of course, the synopsis is usually an agonizing two- or three-day project. I’m always so relieved when it’s finished!
|Oops! How did that get in here? Favorite how-to, uh, snack?|
Next, I print it all out and read through a few times, making changes on paper. Of course, then my critique partners have to read the work! And I make changes again.
Once a proposal sells, and I’ve made any changes to the proposal that have been requested, I jump in to write the book. I usually write about 2000 words a day, then the next morning, I re-read what I wrote the day before to get back into the story.
That all sounds pretty smooth and easy. But it’s not. I usually hit a wall at chapter 5. And then about halfway through, I panic, thinking I’ll never have enough scenes to fill the page count. (I think someone else said this same thing this week!) So at that point, I print and read what I have because I sometimes can’t remember!
Along the way, I print up a blank calendar (you can print one for any month/year in Works) and fill in what happens each day in the story to keep track. I also use a program called Writers Blocks to keep track of what happens in each scene. Of course, I just bought a Mac, so I can’t use it anymore. Will have to find something else visual—which really helps me.
My next project is to create a personal editing checklist to make sure I find all my typical problems and fix them before I turn the book in. (I’m sure my agent and editor will thank me!) :)
So, you plotters out there, do you do any of this? And if I haven’t scared off all you non-plotters, I’d love to hear a little about your writing methods!