Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Good morning, Seekerville! I’ve been a long-time collector of story ideas. Have folders and binders stuffed with clippings, articles and notes. So I’m set for life, right?
How I wish!
In my beginning writing days, I’d excitedly pounce on a fabulous “idea.” Unfortunately, those were the too-many-to-count times I’d write two or three sparkling chapters only to discover the story wasn’t progressing. Then disappointed, frustrated and clueless about how to fix it, I’d set it aside and wander off until I found the next “great idea” and pounce again.
Due to a day job, there’s limited and often unpredictable time available to write, so it was necessary--through trial and error--to learn what I need to do to lay a foundation that will carry the story beyond a few opening chapters. I’m still learning, but here’s what is currently working for me.
I’m one of those writers to whom a full-blown story concept does NOT come overnight. Ideas, yes. A fully developed foundation you can construct the story house on, no.
I start far away from my computer, pen in hand and an unlined 9” x 12” newsprint pad on my lap (the kind of scribble pads you buy for your kids at the grocery or discount stores). There’s something about those blank, unlined pages and the way the ink flows smoothly onto them that frees my imagination from the Inner Critic’s mental handcuffs.
While I can’t tell you exactly which comes first (the chicken or the egg thing), I jot down potential situations, characters, log-lines, premises, GMC, verses, scenes and dialogue that have been bouncing around in my head. Page after page. Circling ideas. Drawing arrows. Posing questions. Cramming stuff into the margins. Gradually, prayerfully, I gravitate to ideas which generate related ideas and begin solidifying and connecting with each other.
When the core “seed” idea evolves to where it captures my interest--and hopefully the interest of my READERS--then I home in on each facet I’ve uncovered and brainstorm those to a greater extent. I pinpoint (in just a few lines each) the basic story concept, premise, opening line, and GMC--what my characters want most, why they want it, and why can’t they have it! I document it in my Netbook or AlphaSmart (still as far away from my desk as I can get), then print it out for a 1- to-2-inch wide, slant-D binder so I can access it for quick reference even when I’m not near a computer.
In snatches of time I’m also:
- Collecting “art fact sheet” images that my editor will need for cover ideas.
- Doing in-person or on-line research to flesh out an idea.
- Brainstorming character backgrounds and scenes that will reflect the premise I’ve tentatively established. This helps me avoid “episodic writing”–-where you go from chapter to chapter with fabulously clever, action-packed, or romantic scenes that, unfortunately, don’t move the story forward, strengthen the conflict or reflect what the story is essentially about.
Scene storming also helps me judge if I have enough ideas related to the premise to sustain an entire book and ensures I’ve thought through the major turning points. (My books usually have about 3 scenes per chapter--approximately 60 scenes per book--but I don’t brainstorm ALL 60 before I start writing.) Some writers are gifted at creating and retaining prep work in their heads, but if I don’t write stuff down, well, the ideas evaporate with almost embarrassing swiftness.
It’s at round 4-6 weeks into this process (while also doing revisions, edits and such on the next releasing book)--that I’m chomping at the bit to launch into that first chapter. Because of my day job, I do my writing early in the morning, 90-120 minutes. While it doesn’t always work out, my goal is to write 1,000 words a day, six days a week--usually taking Sunday’s off (not because I’m legalistic but because I’m TIRED--Monday morning rolls around all too quickly). Sometimes that means 500 words in the a.m. and 500 in the p.m. if other things outside my control have crowded into my morning writing time.
One thing I’ve found invaluable is an Excel spreadsheet to record my daily word count--and pinpoint a reason if I didn’t reach my goal. It’s a great way to evaluate at the end of a book how I used my time, to determine where I “lost ground” to unanticipated day job demands, edits, galleys, art fact sheets, proposal writing, blogs, non-writing-related commitments--and computer meltdowns. I can also see where I could have better applied myself and can improve next time.
When I’ve completed 3-4 chapters, I ask a Seeker pal or two to read them. A proposal usually consists of 3 chapters (or around 50 pages) and a synopsis, so opening chapters are critical. Is the story situation compelling and the conflict strong enough to sustain a whole book? Are the characters likable? Did the reader want to keep turning the pages?
One thing I’ve learned is how important a synopsis is. An editor or agent might love your opening chapters, but if the synopsis--the core of your story structure--appears weak, that’s not good news. I’ve struggled to write a lucid, untangled synopsis FOREVER. Finally finding a method that works for me has taken away the dread of writing one. I even find myself often referring to it to keep me on track.
My synopsis method in a nutshell: At the top of the page I place (in bullet points of a line or two each) the concept, the premise, verse, and themes. This serves as a reminder of what the story is ABOUT as I write the synopsis. Then I introduce the heroine’s background, GMC, and the situation she’s in at the opening of the story. A paragraph or three. Same thing for the hero. Then I launch into the this-happens-and-then-that-happens business. Separating “back story” from the body of the current story adds clarity for my agent and editor, as well as ease of writing it for me.
As I’m constructing the story in my mind and in the synopsis, I’m also documenting:
- A timeline chart for each character. This is where I comparatively keep track of the hero/heroine’s background events. (When were they born? When did he enter the military and what was she doing at that same time? When did her folks divorce?)
- A calendar that encompasses the time period of the story. On it I designate which scenes happen on which days. Did they argue in the park a week ago? Or two weeks ago? (The timeline and calendar docs are subject to change as the story evolves.)
Here are a few more insights into how I write.
- I keep an MS Word document “clips holder” for each story. That’s where I save a scene or dialogue that I’ve decided, for whatever reason, to remove from my manuscript. I may insert it elsewhere later--or in another book altogether.
- I set my trusty timer for each writing session so I don’t keep interrupting myself checking the clock. (Can’t miss the day job or those appointments!)
- I keep a small notebook by my computer where I jot down reminders of things to confirm or research, or things that must be woven into or deleted/modified from earlier scenes.
- I sometimes sketch maps of a town or setting so I can keep in mind the relationship between places from scene to scene (or book to book if writing a series).
- I print out the manuscript several times to red-line while reading it aloud. This not only helps with proofreading, but also to check on story flow/pacing, sentence rhythm, and dialogue.
- My writing sessions go better if I find time the previous evening to pull out my newsprint pad, let my mind wander for a few minutes, and briefly sketch out the next scene so I don’t waste time the following morning.

- By the time I draft the first third of the book, I’m panicking--certain I can’t possibly have enough ideas to sustain the rest of the story. By the time I get the second third drafted I’m panicking again--this time because how on earth can I get EVERYTHING in there that needs to be in there and still stay under the maximum required word count? There’s nothing quite like Writer Paranoia, is there?
- When I complete the first draft (about 4 months), that’s when the FUN begins. Seriously! This is my favorite part! I review my reminder notes and synopsis, then read through the whole manuscript and red-line again before launching into the joy of cutting “deadwood,” fleshing out, layering, enriching and polishing. I also use a checklist to weed out that pesky passive phrasing and repetitive words.
So that’s how I write, more or less! I’m not as super-detailed as some of the genuine plotsters or as freewheeling as the pansters. I’m probably something in between–-a planster--which provides enough structure to keep me on target, but allows me the creative freedom I crave as well.
If you have any questions or thoughts about what I’ve shared, please leave a comment! And if you’re interested in being entered in a drawing for a copy of my upcoming release, “Second Chance Courtship,” please note that, too!
ROLL OF DRUMS AND TRUMPET FANFARE! If you have a COMPLETED manuscript and would like to be entered in a drawing to receive a critique of your book proposal by a top industry professional, this may be your lucky day!

NATASHA KERN, literary agent extraordinaire (and agent of Seekers Julie, Mary, Myra, Missy & Glynna) has generously offered to critique the winner’s proposal for a book-length contemporary or historical romance, women's fiction or suspense.
Natasha’s critique will include comments on plot, character, pacing, hooks, voice and other elements of a novel. The proposal should consist of:
- first 3 chapters (up to 50 double-spaced pages)
- synopsis (4-5 single-spaced pages)
If you want to be entered in the drawing, please e-mail the Seekerville e-address with “Natasha Critique” in the subject line and, in the body of the e-mail, include:
- your name
- e-mail addy
- title of the manuscript
- genre (contemporary romance, historical romance, women’s fiction, or suspense)
- first paragraph
Deadline is Thursday, October 28 at midnight PDT. The winner will be contacted as to where and how the proposal should be submitted. Please check The Natasha Kern Literary Agency website if you want to know more about Natasha!

Glynna Kaye’s Steeple Hill Love Inspired “Dreaming of Home” is a 2010 “Carol Award” and “Maggie Award” finalist, as well as a first place winner of the “Booksellers Best” and “Beacon” awards. Her next books (also set in Canyon Springs, Arizona) are “Second Chance Courtship” releasing February 2011, and “At Home In His Heart” debuting August 2011!


  1. Can't believe I am first! Unless I am typing as someone else is typing.

    I appreciated your process. I also appreciate all of you who work day jobs as well as write.

    Loved Dreaming of Home and appreciate all the hard work and "writer's paranoia" that went into it. Can't wait for your next books. Please put me in your drawing.

    Peace, Julie

  2. Glynna, you've packed some amazing advice into this post. Thank you so much! I'm so grateful for everything I'm learning here at Seekerville. And your pictures reminded me to finally clean my office, and that it also wouldn't hurt to get a motivational Snoopy mug. How awesome is that?! :)

    Thanks again!


  3. Glynna, we work very similarly! Only you articulate the process MUCH better than I. LOLOL! Great post.


  4. Good morning Glynna Kaye and all!

    Each time I read how a Seeker writes, I glean marvelous ideas. This is absolutely a keeper. Thanks so much.

    (Plus I need a visual of the Snoopy mug. Love him!)

    Please enter may at maythek9spy dot com. Thanks for the opportunity to win one of your books!!

    And, what a prize from Ms. Kern too! Would love to submit but K9 spies don't fit the categories... It's all good though. :) May's time will come!

    On the art file you mentioned... Would you please elaborate a bit more?

    Thanks too for speaking about "paranoia". I can so relate!

  5. Wow, Glynna, that's a lot of work to writing. You seem really organized. I read Dreaming of Home and loved it. Looking forward to reading Second Chance Courtship. Put me in the drawing for that. Thanks for giving away a copy.

  6. What a great glimpse into the writing life of a woman who has a day job! I'm always curious how people write and work outside the home. You are my hero!

  7. Oh my goodness, I MISSED Seekerville yesterday, crazzzzzy day at work and then gone last night, but I'm HERE!!!!

    And so happy to be here!

    Glynna, what a fun glimpse into your very nice, normal life.

    I'm leaving now to bomb my office, first with bug bombs, then possibly D-Con, then maybe, just maybe, dynamite.

    And I'm NOT KIDDING.

    But enough about me.

    I love this glimpse into your writing life, your style and your schedule. It gives me plenty of ammunition to pick on you behind the scenes. Thank you for that, dear.

    And getting NATASHA to offer her services today????

    Oh my stars, that's just over-the-top wonderfulness, chica! THANK YOU from everyone in Seekerville who has a chance at this, oh my goodness, I'd have been jumping through hula-hoop sized hoops to have Natasha glimpse Ruthy-stuff back in the day.

    Thanks, Natasha!

    I love the Snoopy mug. I need a Snoopy mug. Gotta find one, I had one a LONG time ago. It's maaahhhvelous, darlink!


    Oh mylanta, girlfriend, you posted without food???? That's okay, I've got your back (it will make up for my absence yesterday... WHAT??? NO ONE NOTICED???? Brats, the lot o'youse!)

    Breakfast pizza today, we haven't done that in forever, and trays of Danish in cheese, pineapple, apple and cherry coming your way from Ruthy's Sweets, a delectable bakery with down home-cookin' delights.

    Coffee. I hope most o'youse have power back after that storm ransacked the mid-section of the USA yesterday, but I've got a great bunch of coffee right here. Flavored creamers or good ol' farm fresh milk (4%, seriously, why would ANYONE put something less than that in their coffee????)

    Glynna, I can't wait to see who wins this critique from Natasha Kern.

    Oh my stars. Awesome.

  8. Mornin' Julie! Yeah, squashing it all in between the day job gets pretty wild and woolly sometimes--I conservatively mentioned only two rounds of paranoia so as not to scare off anyone as yet unpublished. :)

    So happy you enjoyed "Dreaming of Home!" It's fun to continue writing about Canyon Springs, Arizona. I'm printing out "At Home in His Heart" (August 2011) as I type this and will ship it off TOdAY!

  9. Someone who creates like I do!!

    Yay, GK.

    And thank you Natasha for your generous offer!

  10. Another great post and look into the writing life of a Seeker.

    Thanks for sharing, Glynna. You packed in a lot of wonderful information and ideas.


  11. Dana -- glad you found my post helpful. I'm ALWAYS on the look out for ideas that will help me write better, faster, so I'm really enjoying the Seeker posts this month on "How I Write" also!

    The office photo you're seeing is the BEFORE and AFTER I turn in my manuscript! You'd die laughing if you could see ir RIGHT NOW. I tried to get a photo of the diaster area to post, but it kept goofing up the formatting on everything else and kept getting deleted when I tried to move it around. Finally had to give up as I had a book to finish! :)

    I'll try to post it another time just so you all don't fall for the tall tale that I'm a neat and tidy writer. NOT!

  12. /takes deep breath and writes email/

    Man - this is the one I would love to win.

    Though there's lots of other fabulous prizes as well. Glynna - I got my book yesterday! Um... the screenwriting one about conflict? I forget and it's early ;). Oh - and I grew up in Glendale so I squealed slightly at the return address ;).

    This one is getting starred in Google reader so I can return to it - in part for that pesky synopsis writing.

    Thanks again for the insight!

    carol at carolmoncado dot com

  13. Cheryl! What do you mean we work similarly??? You do all the preliminary work and write the draft IN A WEEK. I do the preliminary work and it takes me FIVE MONTHS!

  14. Oh yes!

    Thank you, Ms. Kern, for the fabulous offer!

    /wrings hands trying to decide if the four words of the first sentence is enough for a 'first paragraph' or if she should include the next bit too and then remembers the file she took it from isn't the latest revision. EEKS! and runs to a different file before breathing a sigh of relief that she didn't send it yet/

  15. KC -- Art Fact Sheets (AFS) are documents required by Steeple Hill (and I assume for all Harlequin lines) for each book. The author has to submit the completed form right about the time the book is contracted (which means before the book is completely written if contracted on proposal).

    The AFS has questions about the story's themes and inspiration for the title, and asks for a short story synopsis (maybe 3-5 paragraphs).

    Then there are sections to complete on the hero & heroine (and children if applicable) -- basics like race/ethnicity, hair & eye color, outstanding traits, and then other internal character descriptions that might affect a cover or the writing of a back cover blurb.

    They are also CURRENTLY asking for (this changes periodically) three scene ideas -- 2 with people in them and one a landscape alone. So the author completes 3 mini-questionnaires on each: story location, intersting visual elements, seaon or special holiday season in the story, etc.

    THEN they ask that you submit any photos that illustrate your ideas of the above. So early on, when I'm still even just dreaming up the story & preparing the proposal, I begin to collect photos in a Word doc of my hero/heroine/kids/pets and photos that will convey the landscape, background, and objects in or mood of the cover ideas I'm proposing.

    Did that answer your question, KC?

  16. Glynna, thanks for sharing your story process. I'm currently working to learn to lay that foundation because, like you, I only get snatches of writing time. Often I'm amazed that I get any writing done at all. I was just sharing with my critique partner yesterday that I need to do better in that area.

    I enjoyed your book, Dreaming of Home, so I know your process works. Keep pushing!

    I have a question about the Natasha Kern drawing. If I enter my first paragraph is only one sentence long, so is there another qualifier for the first paragraph such as a word count? Or do I just submit the one line for my first paragraph?

    Thanks ladies for inviting my to your birthday bash this month. I've enjoyed being a part of this blog (in my small way).

    Well, I'm off to work now. I'll catch y'all later this evening.

  17. Patsy -- With only a few hours to write each day, I have to be fairly organized, although not infrequently I'm chasing around for an elusive scrap of paper I wrote an idea on. You know the idea that will make or break the story--AND WHERE IS IT??? :)

  18. Sherrinda - well, now you know! SCARY isn't it? I'm SO looking forward to just a few days' break from rise & shine at 4 a.m.!!!

  19. Loves 2 Read Romance - LauraOctober 27, 2010 at 8:01 AM

    Thank you for sharing with us Glynna. I haven't started writing but it sounds like a lot of your brainstorming techniques might help me get started. Since I haven't started writing I don't need to be entered into the critique contest but go ahead and put me down for the others.

    fantum2004 AT sbcglobal DOT net

  20. Mornin' Ruthy! But "a glimpse into a nice NORMAL life"?? Get real, lady! Or do you mean it's "normal" because like YOU I'm an early bird, writing in the pre-dawn hours? :)

    Yes, isn't Natasha's generous offer fabulous! I'd sent her the link to our birthday party, just to let her know what we're up to, and that wonderful woman offered the critique as one of our prizes!

    Thanks for bringing food, Ruthy! Where was Helen this morning to start the coffee??

  21. Tina -- this proves it. Twins separated at birth. :)

  22. Good morning, Kirsten! Glad you could glean a few new ideas!

  23. Glynna,

    Thanks for a look inside your writing life. I work full time too but I'm not a morning person, so I have to work my writing time into my evenings and weekends.

    I loved Dreaming of Home so I can't wait for your new release.

    I'll pass on the critique (but how cool is THAT prize)but count me in on the book drawing.

    RRossZediker at yahoo dot com

  24. Hi CarolM! Ah, a Glendale gal! Have you gotten used to the humidity in your current locale?

    Wow! That book made good time! That's one I periodically read, not always all the way through each time, but as a refresher.

  25. CarolM - If your first paragraph is only 4 words, I think you can slip in the 2nd one. :)

  26. Diana -- if your first paragraph is only one line, go ahead and put in the 2nd one. We're basically asking for the first paragraph so Natasha can confirm when she receives the winning proposal that it matches what we told her the winning proposal was going to be.

  27. Ooops. Sorry Dianna. Fingers slipped and I misspelled your name.

  28. Laura -- You're not writing yet? No excuses! :) There's a wealth of info in the Seeker archives for just about any topic you need to know about!

  29. Hi, Rose! I think you have to, if possible, write at a time that's most conducive to your inner biorhythms. Camy Tang writes LATE LATE LATE and into the wee hours. Another friend works full-time and he writes after 10 p.m., when the kids are all in bed. I'm, personally, not worth much when it comes to writing creativeness in the evenings.

  30. Thanks for sharing some great ideas. I like the idea of having a calendar for the characters to help with working on timing.

    I'm not ready for it, but good luck to all entering for Natasha. What a wonderful chance!

  31. Hi, Julia! That calendar is invaluable! When I'm diligently writing away, things are constantly changing and I don't want my hero saying "when we kissed last week" when it was YESTERDAY! So before it "goes to press" I take my calendar and review it against the reference in the manuscript just to double-check.

  32. Wow, it is such a privilege to be in the company of so many talented writers! God has blessed you with creative minds and sits back rejoicing as you use them to glorify Him in your writing:)
    Blessings to all of you!

  33. Morning Glynna,

    What a great and organized plan you have and I do know it works because you are amazing. I also know what a horrendous load you have at your day job and it totally inspires me when I read your stories that you write inspite of the small amount of time you have.

    They are wonderful and now I can see why. Thanks for sharing.

    Thanks to Natasha also for looking at a proposal. Wow. Like Ruthy, I would have died for one of those.

    I know you have a breather this week. Have fun.

  34. Thank you, Charlotte!! It's amazing, as I know I couldn't be doing what I'm doing if God wasn't right in there doing it with me!

  35. Oh Mylanta - to quote someone else ;).

    It just hit me Glynna how early it is where you are! And you've been responding for a while! EEK!

    I am so not an early bird!

    Yes - I can deal with the humidity; it's the allergies that get me. Of course that's what I get for moving out of the 'city' and to a house that is surrounded on 3 sides [more or less] by farmland. Our subdivision even has a small farm that it's sort of surrounded - we have cows! I can hear them moo late at night! Then I'm 4 smallish vacant lots from a hayfield.


    But I do love it ;).

    Thank you again!

  36. Sandra -- I should have dragged you up to my "work nook" last week when you were here for lunch. Then you'd see for yourself just how "organized" I am. LOL!

  37. WOW, Glynna ... I've always greatly admired the fact that you write in addition to a full-time job (like a number of other Seekers!), but my respect level has gone through the roof seeing what you jam-pack into a day, girl!! Whew!

    LOVE the line: "There’s nothing quite like Writer Paranoia, is there?"

    No, not unless it's a root canal! :)

    OR being so emotionally grafted to your stories that edits FEEL like six root canals ... right, Natasha???

    And speaking of Natasha, this critique is a HUGE deal, coveted by aspiring writers all over the world, so say your prayers and leave your comments for a chance of a lifetime with one of the top agents in the biz.


  38. CarolM - UGH. Allergies. But, oh, that sweet-smelling hay! And all the GREEN! My eyes often hunger for that midwesten specialty! I love to hear cattle at night -- used to sit out on my Texas grandma's front porch in the dark and listen to them. (And NO, Mary Connealy, it wasn't during that weaning-the-calves ruckus time. It was quiet. Peaceful. Soothing.)

  39. AND DON'T FORGET! If you have a COMPLETED manuscript and want to be entered in the drawing for a Natasha critique of your proposal, you need to submit the info we've outlined at the bottom of my post to our email address by midnight Pacific Daylight time on Thursday, October 28. That's TOMORROW!

  40. Oh my goodness. Is that really your desk. I can't believe it is so clean.

  41. Ah, good morning Julie-Queen-of-Paranoia! Dr. Phil would say that in spite of Mega Paranoia we're receiving gratification at some level or we wouldn't keep writing these books and doing this to ourselves. :)

  42. Rebekah -- haven't you ever heard "don't believe everything you see?" :)

  43. Wowser! This is a terrific prize! Very cool. And very generous of Natasha.

    Glynna, it was such a joy to meet you at ACFW. And I'm glad you found a writing friend in your hometown. :)

    You do a lot more upfront work than I do, at least with the pen/pencil.

    I'm really enjoying seeing the writing process for each of teh seekers and I'm going to be sad when birthday month ends. :(

  44. DIANNA -- depending on how many enter, we may draw 3-5 entries, then let Natasha pick one based on the 1st paragraph.

  45. Erica -- It was great to meet you, too! And what a "coincidence" (heavenly?) that Georgiana who sat down beside you at our table lives in MY town! And you were friends! Small world, isn't it? Our schedules haven't let us get together yet, but we've emailed a few times. So nice to know there's another ACFWers close by!

  46. Just packed up "At Home In His Heart." YAY! I'm out of bubble wrap, so had to pack the Express Mail box with plastic Wal-Mart bags to keep the manuscript from bouncing all around and getting beat up. (Hope my editor is a recycler.) Do you think they have Wal-Mart in New York City? Or will she save them as collector's items?

  47. Glynna, I love the synopsis help. I absolutely dislike writing them and I can't say they are getting any easier, but you've just made it sound doable!

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!

  48. Oh, and hey everybody! If you happen to see a copy of the December issue of "RT Book Reviews" take a peek at page 49 -- photos from the ACFW conference! Including ones of me and Camy Tang! RT has plans for an article of mini-interviews of ACFW goers in an upcoming issue.

  49. Renee -- it really helps me to get that character background and GMC down FIRST about the hero & heroine. Previously I'd try to weave it into the current story and the whole thing would get confusing and bogged down. It's not EASY now, but relatively speaking it is!So I actually can get some enjoyment out of the process.

  50. Glynna,

    Thanks for giving us a glimpse into your writing life. It makes me think I should be doing more prep work before I start writing, but we work differently, don't we?

    Would you explain the difference in Premise and Concept?

    I really like your synopsis format. Makes things simple.

    I'd like to be entered in the drawing for your book.


    fictionfan1 [at] me [dot] com

  51. Wow, a critique from Natasha?

    This is the best prize ever. Cool.

    Glynna, I love and am overwhelmed by your process. Such order.

    I love this: that frees my imagination from the Inner Critic’s mental handcuffs

    That is a cool concept. I jot notes on paper when I'm somewhere away from my computer. But I almost never touch paper when I'm writing. I like the idea of writing giving you some freedom.

    Of course I can rarely READ my atrocious handwriting, so that's a downside.

  52. Glynna, I love your method - it seems to give us pantsters a way to be free - and yet have a foundation at the same time!!

    Yes, I would love to win a copy of your book!


  53. Also......I have GOT to go clean my desk off. Before I'm killed in an avalanche.........

  54. Vickie-- I think of premise as what the story at it's CORE is about. For instance, "selfishness leads to loneliness, but selflessness leads to love."

    Then I think of the concept as kind of that "pitch line" that tells how that premise plays out in reality. For instance, "An arrogant young Duke must face the truth about himself when he refuses to give up his dream to (whatever)in order to win the heart of a selfless peasant girl."

    Not the greatest examples, but hopefully that gives you an idea.

  55. This was so fun to read! It's nice to know that not everyone has their entire story all plotted out ahead of time.


  56. I don't get the whole concept at first either. I usually see the opening scene with an idea of where it's going. Then I brainstorm, start listing scene ideas and finally start writing. I don't have the whole outline at that point, but I know where it's going.

    Enjoyed the peek at your brainstorming process!

  57. Mornin', Mary! I have to be somewhat organized, write things down, as I don't have time throughout the work day to think a single personal thought, let alone mull over story ideas. Usually work thru lunch as well.

    Oh, and thanks for deciding to clean your desk. Ruthy and I were going to talk to you about that.

  58. I had a great "chicken vs. egg" comment, but am not up to the philsophical debate. However, I'm am always happy to meet someone who is half-plotter and half-pantster. I feel I fit there.

    As I won your last book, Glynna, I shouldn't include my name for this drawing. However, I'm still always up for the Kindle (and will definitely complete the stuff for the Natasha critique).


  59. Edwina -- yeah, the "planster" method seems to be what works best for me. Thinking through things up front, but not so much that it ruins the creative process, the surprises. You still get that magic in a scene where things happen or pop out of a character's mouth that you had NO IDEA was coming!

  60. Hi, Holly! I love to read about how other writers write! We all do it differently. It just sometimes takes us awhile to figure out what the best way is for us.

  61. Debbie -- sounds like our methods are very similar!

  62. Ah, another planster! But don't worry, Walt, Vince will take up the debate for you when he arrives -- right Vince? Vince?

    Yes, and DO get your entry sent to us! Natasha has such insights into the core of stories, the "parable" that's told.

  63. By the way, the personalized snoopy mug comes from "Current." You'll need to cut & paste this into your browser. My sister got the mug for me.

  64. Glynna, I am more plotter than pantster, but depend on both methods at times.

  65. Glynna, I love the Snoopy cup and appreciate the helpful hints--especially when dealing with a synopsis! Thanks for another great post on how you authors accomplish so much and create such compelling stories! reneeasmith61 [at] yahoo [dot] com

  66. Loved this glimpse into your writing live -- particularly how to sandwich writing in along with a full-time job since that's what I am trying to do. And the bit about the newsprint pad and the way the ink flows on the blank page!!!! I LOVE newsprint pads. I can write anything on a newsprint pad! Sigh, just thinking about it makes me blissful.

  67. Hi, Glenna! I thoroughly enjoyed Dreaming of Home! Great story!

    Please enter me in the drawing.

    I'm a percolating panster. I let the story percolate at various stages of the book. Sometimes this requires taking notes and other times I sit and fly with my writing.

    I do keep various documents for character names and a bit about each one. That way the ex-girlfriend isn't Jan in one scene and Tracy in another. :D I also write up a general synopsis that I refer to, but don't necessarily stick strictly to it. My synopsis will have to be tweaked at the end of writing the manuscript. There are several other docs I keep, as well, to keep me on track. I won't list them all, but one does include a "trash pile" of deleted scenes.

    I would love to write hand notes, but my hands don't cooperate long enough at one time with a pen, so I live with my laptop attached at the hip. :D

    If I do too much planning, I get tired before the writing begins and the story never gets done. So, I figure it out as I go and sometimes I have to go back and make tweaks to accomodate for something that popped into my head part way through the manuscript.

    I do try to get each stage down before moving on to the next...especially the first third of the book. It has to be right before I'll move on.

    I'm sure there's more I could share, but I'll spare you the book. :D


    lr. mullin at live. com

  68. Thanks for stopping by, Renee Ann! Glad the post gave you some new ideas!

  69. YAY, Kav! Another newsprint fan! Ideas can just flow, ALL over it. unrestricted by confining lines!

  70. /gulp/

    Okay. The email is sent in.

    /wrings hands hoping her opening two paragraphs [cuz the first one was 4 words] is good enough if there's a multiple draw AND she's lucky enough to be in it AND then Ms. Kern picks/

    This is enough to give a girl an ulcer.

    Of course, I also picked up Petticoat Ranch from the library and started it a bit ago [it's amazing how many pages you can read in 15 minutes when you get the large print version because no one has a hold on it...] /wonders how long a Julie-fic would be in large print and decides it would probably work for weight lifting/

  71. Linette -- Percolating. I like that way of putting it! I think I like to throw out ideas on the newsprint pad because it gets me AWAY from the computer that I live with in writing AND the day job. Of course, then you end up having to type them up for reference so you don't lose them, but at least it gets me away from the keyboard. :)

    Like you mentioned about getting tired if you do TOO MUCH planning -I have a friend who followed closely an agent's recommended "method" of writing. He did it exactly like it was outlined---then was so sick of the story by the time he finished that he never wrote it. So if you're not a deeply devoted plotster you have do to be careful of that!

  72. The post office calls! My third in the Canyon Springs setting will soon be on it's way!

  73. Great post, Glynna!! And I loved the photos. Although I'm with Ruthy--feeling the need to just bomb my work area and start over. :)

    Thanks for sharing your work methods! And thanks to Natasha for her generous gift to our birthday celebration!

  74. Loved reading your process, Glynna. I'm totally impressed how much you cram into in a small writing window! Your desk is proof of how organized you are.

    Thanks to Natasha for offering a critique on a proposal!! Just a fabulous opportunity for someone here in Seekerville!

    I brought chili and cornbread for lunch.


  75. Glynna:

    Sorry I'm late with the coffee. The pot's on for everybody's second round. There's also tea for those of us who prefer it.

    Today is going much better than yesterday. Woke at 4:30 a.m. to wind and rain storm. Got up and turned on a light. Seconds later everything went out. Had no power until nearly noon.

    Enjoyed meeting you in Indy and reading your first book. Look forward to the next one.


    I can relate. Especially to when you mention "Circling ideas. Drawing arrows. Posing questions. Cramming stuff into margins."

    I begin much like you describe, stuffing a folder with bits and pieces that must be fleshed out and organized. Then I fill out a character chart for the main characters and do a bare bones outine.

    It takes me forever to get the first chapter done. But after that I develop a routine. Difference is I no longer have a day job.


  76. Glynna, I am so impressed with how neat your desk is! Wow.

  77. Wow, Glynna, LOVED this glimpse into your writing world!

    I have tried so many different methods and "systems" for getting the books written. In the end, you just have to go with what works best for YOU. Looks like you've found it!

    What I've learned over the years is that no matter how much planning and plotting I do ahead of time, once I sit down to write, the story takes on a life of its own. It's like I never even made those notes, because the characters are telling me I was SOOOO wrong about them, about their backgrounds, about their goals and conflicts and motivations.

    And then . . . Natasha gets hold of the story and shows me what it's REALLY about.

    Seriously, if you have a qualifying ms., ENTER THE DRAWING! Natasha's offer is a goldmine. You could learn more in one critique from her than you would in a lifetime of writing conferences!

  78. I'm deeply suspicious of Glynna's tidy desk.

    I think she downloaded it off Google Images.

  79. Aside from what Mary said, I think your office looks like a cozy place to work Glynna. :) And the snoopy cup is too cute. I have enjoyed finding out how you all write and discovered I don't do it like any of you! I am not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing...considering you are published. :)

    Alas, I am not ready to submit. I am still editing my MS. But BEST WISHES to everyone is trying. :D


  80. :D Glynna, I borrowed that from one of my mentors, Jeanette Littleton. She edits more than she writes, but that's how she described her style. I loved the term percolating because it defined my method so well. I let my imagination run wild and when I get fixated on something I run with it. I've done this with Beth's sequel. Though I haven't started writing Tiffany's story, yet, I have all the ideas percolating and just waiting to escape on paper! :D


  81. Cookies.

    I'm on the fly and leaving chocolate chip pecan cookies for everyone.

    And home-made vanilla ice cream. Try making your own ice cream sandwiches.


  82. Hi Glynna:

    Wow! Here’s what I wrote in a review of “Dreaming of Home” when the book first came out:

    “Dreaming of Home” also makes excellence use of conflict. The tension in the book grows out of the story internally as if it were a snowball rolling down hill. The pressure builds, little by little, and so naturally, that the story is like something happing in real life.

    I have written a more extensive review on my own blog that is intended for writers.
    “Dreaming of Home” is really worth delving into and looking under the hood. But for fans, it’s a wonderful five star delight!

    Now that I get to see how that material actually got ‘under the hood’ – it all makes sense! You spent months getting the story to flow so naturally.

    Your post is very helpful.

    BTW: I’m always prepared for a complicated philosophical debate. : )

    I’d like to make this point: if you plot the story and write a synopsis in advance, even if you pantser every word of each individual chapter, you’re a plotter. No one expects a plotter to plot every word in the story. The plot is the general idea and the words of the manuscript are the actual instantiation of that idea. Plotters of the world please stop making excuses! Plotters are people, too. They have nothing to be ashamed of. Think: Plotter Pride! A Planster is really a Plotter who is only half-way out of the closet! : )

    Also, I believe that the more an author pantsers, the more revisions the editor is going to call for (if the editor is plot or story oriented). A series of brilliant, individually pantsered chapters can lack luster when viewed as a whole. It’s a little like those exercises where 12 gifted authors write one chapter each to create a book for charity. Each chapter is great but the book – who knows? The finished product all depends on luck!

    Now I love Pantsers. They’re wonderful people – it’s just that I would like to see Plotters get the same warm degree of understanding, appreciation and acceptance that Pantsers enjoy. With a little love, we can all get along! : )

    And yes, I’d love to win your next book!


    vmres (at) swbell (dot) net

  83. Glynna,
    Love your detailed. So effective. Can't wait for your next book to hit the bookstores!

    Yes, I'm envious of your tidy office. Also appreciate all your files and the info you amass before you begin to write. The more you know, the more you have to pull from when you write.

    I agree about the importance of a synopsis. All the twists and turns of a story seem to fall into place when I write the synopsis. And like you, I'm beginning to enjoy writing them more than in the past. Perhaps because I realize how necessary they are to ensure all the pieces fit.

    Thanks for a great blog today. As many others have mentioned, you're amazing...full time job and a writing career! :)

  84. Wow, Glynna! Thanks for sharing that. I find that sometimes I love working on the computer (like now), but other times I am perfectly happy with pen and paper. I do whatever keeps the words coming.

    And I must thank you - Seekerville has found a way to trump itself again. With only four days left in the birthday bash you bring out the best prize :)

    Eva Maria Hamilton at gmail dot com

  85. What a great post, Glynna! I started reading it while the kids were getting ready for school and finally had the chance to finish. Just shows what kind of day it's been! :-)

    I love the way your writing process sounds -- a mix of free flowing and structure. I'm discovering that I'm in that boat myself -- I want to plot and get a synopsis, but don't plot to the point of writing scenes on index cards and such. But a blank notepad is right up my alley!

    Please don't enter me for the critique. Now that I'm writing for MG/YA instead of adults I had to take Natasha off my list of dream agent possibilities. But what a great opportunity for a lucky Seeker friend!


  86. Glynna,

    Oh my! You sound so organized. I'm going to grab a bunch of your good ideas and run with them!

    Thanks for letting us have a glimpse into your process.

    And what a generous offer from an obviously very busy agent! Thank you, Natasha!

    Off to get my entry ready!

    sbmason at sympatico dot ca

  87. After reading all that, I'll leave the writing to you and the reading for me! Seriously, I appreciate all the work writers put in to make a book. You all are so under-appreciated! Consider this my HUGE thank you!
    desertrose5173 at gmail dot com

  88. After reading your post, Glynna, I know that I'm a planster, too. I first write a timeline for the story in longhand. I like to write the synopsis next, but its interesting to see how the characters take over and how far the finished product deviates from the original. I get more satisfaction from the editing process than from creating the story. Thanks for the advice. Enjoyed looking at your office. You're far more organized than I am. Put me in for the drawing for your latest novel, please. What a generous offer from Natasha Kern!

  89. Glynna, thanks for providing such a detailed look at your writing process. It's helpful to see how another part-time writer utilizes her time, and how another writer, in general, approaches the task of completing a novel.

    My process is still developing as far as laying a story foundation, and it not nearly as put together as yours. I picked up some gems here I might try, though.

    Rose, I write at night after my children are in bed and my kitchen is clean. Cleaning the kitchen clears my head, and I'm able to bang out the words. I also have to leave myself some breadcrumbs from the night before though, so that I know where I left off and where I want to go.

    Vince, you crack me up. Plantsers are only half-way out the closet? I think of the writing process as a spectrum, from those who plot/plan every chapter and scene over to those who sit down with a blank page and see what happens. The plantsers are somewhere in the middle, some veering more toward the plotters and others veering more toward completely free-flowing freedom. I'd bet the majority of authors are plantsers, just falling at different points.

    Please enter me for your book, Glynna. Oh, I wish I were ready for Natasha. Next time...


  90. Glynna! I love your writing area! Do you really work there or just use it for show, LOL!!

    I stand in awe of your organization. I'm going to *borrow* the tips about working on your synopsis and sketching out a map of the setting.

    Your patience is salutable. You wait 4-6 weeks for your ideas to come together ber writing the first word?? Girlfriend, you are a rock!!

    Love the photos. Especially the mug.

    May the process be with you always and serve you faithfully!!!

  91. What a great post, Glynna. Will be chewing on your very helpful tips for a long time to come.
    I love to write outlines and ideas on tablet paper, too. My dear crit partner brought me back one of those wonderful ACFW folders from the conference, and I plotted out a new wip in one afternoon on that lovely thing. My husband gave me a promising idea in 15 minutes after I labored for two days with random and mundane plots. What a catch! :)

    And such great contests going on here. Kindles and Natasha Kern. Speaking of, what is the email address to which we send our entry? Forgive if this has been asked already.

    mahereenie at yahoo dot com

  92. Thanks for stoppin' by, Missy! I'll post a photo in one of my future blogs to let you see how it looks when I'm down to deadline time! A WHOLE nother story! :)

  93. Janet -- chili & cornbread sounds GREAT! Cooling down here with November already on the horizon so those "comfort" foods are hard to turn down!

  94. Glad to see you made it, Helen! When the power goes out it reminds me how grateful I am for computers. Can you imagine handwriting entire books like Austen and Dickens, etc., had to do?

  95. Melanie -- DON'T be impressed! If you could see it now, in the aftermath of the past week's push to meet my deadline, the only thing you'd be impressed by is the fact that I managed to come out of it ALIVE! :)

  96. Myra -- I'm like you, I've tried SO MANY different methods through the years. Learned that a full-fledge panster I can't be or I have to rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. On the other hand, I'm not a full-fledged plotster with scenes detailed. I used to only write a synopsis when the book was DONE. But necessity is the mother of invention they say, and if you want to sell an unfinished book on proposal you HAVE to write a synopsis. So I'm learning!

  97. Casey -- I think writing styles & methods are akin to snowflakes--no two alike, or so we've been told!

    I'd encourage anyone who's not making as much progress in their writing the way they'd like to be, to try a new method. See what works for YOU! Try different times of day. Try plotting. Try Panster. Try Planster. Create your own perfect blend that's uniquely you!

  98. Linette -- sounds like your percolating method is a good fit for you!

  99. I think your timeline and calendar are so interesting! It's great to read about a writer's process. I'd like to be in the drawing for your book too.

    Mary M

  100. Hi, Vince! Thanks for your glowing review of "Dreaming of Home!" I'm not a natural born plotter. It's really hard for me. But, as you mention, after years of trying to "panster" with little or no success and far too many "do overs" or incompletes, I knew I HAD to figure out a better way. Even though it's still hard, I find I'm learning to enjoy creating a high-level "map" that keeps me going in the right direction. It's really improved my productivity and I anticipate that as I gain more experience with it, the method will work better and better for me.

  101. Thank you Glynna for the insight into your way of writing. You gave us a lot of tips.

    I would love to be entered to win a copy of “Second Chance Courtship,” Thank you for the chance.

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.


  102. Glynna,
    Thanks for sharing this glimpse into your writing world.
    WOW - you are so well-planned!
    I love meeting you at ACFW, and now to 'see' your writing habits - cool!
    I have sooooo far to go before I get remotely close to that. Wow!

    I'm off to work on that first paragraph for that critique from the FABULOUS Natasha.

  103. Hi, Debby! Now that I'm HAVING to write a synopsis before "the end," I'm finding it's a great high-level tool to keep me on track.

  104. Hi Eva Maria! I know there are still authors who write entire manuscript in longhand, but while I can't do that (I revise as I go along) backing away from the computer and picking up a pen can often get me "unstuck" when I get bogged down with which way to go on a character or what should happen next.

  105. Leigh -- glad you enjoyed the post. I love to read how other writers write, which is why I never can resist picking up a Janet Evanovich, Stephen King, Maeve Binchy or another author's book that opens the lid on the process they use to create their fictional worlds.

  106. Thanks for stopping by Susan Anne! I'm always on the lookout for new organizing ideas that are SIMPLE. If they're to complicated, too rigid, I won't stick with them. I have the soul of an artist--photography, drawing, painting through the years as time allowed. I'm not naturally neat (I've always been Oscar to my sister's Felix), but I periodically have to clear the desk of clutter when it starts taking much too long to lay my hands on what I need! :)

  107. Welcome Linda! Brave woman, you are, to venture into the den of a pack of crazy writers!

  108. Pat -- I love the revision & polishing stage, too! That's when everything really comes together, when the characterization deepens and the story comes alive. My goal now is to learn how to write the first draft FASTER so that I'll have more time on the back end to do more of that.

  109. Mary M -- In addition to marking on my calendar which days certain scenes take place, I also make notes of what time the sun rises and sets in the setting of my story for the season the story is set in.

    For instance, in Arizona (unless you're on the Navajo reservation), your characters will be experiencing REAL EARLY dawn and EARLY sunset because Arizona doesn't go on daylight saving time like much of the country. I also jot down the phases of the moon so I won't have a full moon scene and a week later STILL have a full moon scene!

  110. Patricia -- I'm happy you found a few tidbits you might be able to use from my post! It really is all about finding that "sweet spot." And it's a little different for every writer. I'm not quite there yet, but I'm getting closer and closer with each book I write.

  111. Thanks, Audra! (I'll email you a photo of what my office looks like NOW--having just printed out the manuscript and shipped it off this morning! It's NOT a pretty sight!)

  112. Hi, Cindy W! thanks for stopping by! Wish I could have spent the whole day chatting with everyone--maybe SOME DAY!! :)

  113. Pepper -- my "methods" have evolved thru trial, error and DESPERATION. With so little time to write, I have to write things down and TRY to keep them gathered in one place as best I can. Thus the 3-hole binders & little spiral notebook to capture "on the fly" reminders.

  114. Kathleen -- those were cute folders, weren't they!? Sounds like it really inspired you, too! Don't you love it when all of a sudden the story leaps to life??

    You can find the Seeker e-mail on one of the links below the Island design at the top of the blog -- "contact us" will get you where you want to go!

  115. Glynna,

    Loved hearing how you write. You presented some good ideas as well. Great snoopy mug by the way! :)

    Jodie Wolfe

    Sure would love the chance for having an agent peruse my novel, but alas it still is in prgress.

  116. Another post filled with more information than my wee wittle mind can get through in one read.

    Thanks Glynna.

    Now I wonder if I shouldn't put my office back together. Who knows I might actually get more writing done. If I'm ever there.

    Right now my office is wherever I carry my laptop and black bag, or at our business office. So putting the manuscript together gets to be a little disorganized.

    I have stacks of notebooks by my bed that I move and restack depending on the story I'm working on. I have to move them or I trip on them getting into bed.

    And writing in my room isn't really great anyway, cause hubby complains about the light.

    I also have the corner of the couch. Which is okay if everyone is in bed and not watching the tube.

    oh well

    I sent in my email and have crossed my fingers for a critique with Natasha. How awesome.

    thanks again for the insight and the chance

    Tina Pinson

  117. Jodie -- keep on writing and before you know it, you'll have that manuscript completed! It took me FOREVER to finish my first one, but it seems to get a little easier with each one.

  118. Tina P - There are some real advantages to having a traveling office! I bought my first netbook last spring and really appreciated not being chained to the DESK. Sometimes it's nice to find a change of scenery. Gets you out of a rut!

  119. Wow, Glynna! You have such a clean desk. Right now I'm not sure I can even find mine. Love having the peek at your creative process, but I think the unlined paper would drive me bonkers. I like writing on graph paper, but will take regular college ruled if I must ;)

  120. Wow! It sounds like you are super organized! Thank you for sharing all of that valuable "how-to" advice. I'm certain that parts of it will be useful for each person reading it. I especially enjoyed the part about your notebook. I thought I was horribly old fashioned to keep an ideas notebook. It is a thick, sprial notebook with lined pages, and I grab it to start making notes whenever an idea comes to me. Sometimes I dream the stories and want to jot them down before the dream fades away. Sometimes the ideas come from elsewhere. I thought I was behind the times to keep this paper version of the beginnings of all of my stories, but now I am so thankful to have it. My laptop was recently stolen along with all of my manuscripts. No, I wasn't smart enough to faithfully back-up everything on my flash drive. Who ever thinks their house will be robbed? So, besides the few things which did make it onto the flash drive, the rest will have to start back from scratch with the help of my friend, the notebook.

  121. I was encouraged to hear the I'm not the only one with that 1/3 principle going on. Thank you!

  122. Hi, Georgiana! Good to see you again! Graph paper? I wouldn't get ANY brainstorming done one graph paper as I was a design major in college and I'd probably start sketching floor plans and elevations. :)

  123. Tahnee -- How heartbreaking to have your stories stolen! A writer's fear, for sure. Fire, too. I've been putting my writing files on flash drives and entrusting them to the care of my parents "just in case." How fortunate you still had your hardcopy notes. I guess I'm "old fashioned," too, because I still love to brainstorm longhand. :)

  124. Carla -- you mean I'm not alone?? Whew! :)