Working on the Double S novels gave me a chance to immerse myself and my characters in a new setting, decidedly Western, some mountains, a lush valley... But cowboys aren't generally the gun-carriers they used to be, so while they have a gorgeous, pistol-packing ex-cop housekeeper on the ranch... the guys aren't using bullets on a regular basis.
But as a writer, you can... and this might give you the impetus you need to keep your threads woven throughout the story.
My first stories wandered. I thought that was pure genius. I thought that was the cat's meow. I thought I would take the literary world by storm with my totally telling/wandering story approach to this biz.
SO WHEN THAT DIDN'T WORK.... (laughing!) I took the advice of some very smart people (it is good to surround yourself with VSMs and I'll tell you why: Because most folks surround themselves with people at their level or below... because that makes them feel good. To learn to humble yourself and surround yourself with the successful folks is to your advantage. They obviously have done something right and more often, they've done dozens of things right... and emulating them is not only smart... it can be profitable!
I make bullet lists for every book I'm working on, and I keep it open on the computer so I can quickly refer to it, chapter by chapter to make sure the emotion of the story, the moment, the character is true to form. This is a huge and simple help to me. Simple because I'm not taking time to learn new skills and new programs because new programs come out about every two or three years, and I'm quite happy with the ones I know well.
And huge because it brings the grit of the story to me visually. Remember, I'm not a craft book person, I like quick, visual aids to keep me on track... And every writer needs to find their own way to sustain productivity and creativity in such a crazy, fun business!
Here's an example for "Home on the Range", releasing in FIVE DAYS but you can pre-order it RIGHT HERE!!!!
Glancing at those words, I can visualize the major and some minor elements of the story. The emotions are clear here, so I can glance at this and know if I met those emotions in the finished chapter... did I keep the characters true to form? Kelly Bridgewater asked a couple of weeks ago how to learn to "be Barbie" and not play with Barbie... Kelly, that was such a great question, and this is a help to me. By seeing these words, I can remember why Elsa feels the way she does, and why she's sequestered herself in a hobbit house in the woods. I can see Cheyenne's face as she tries to hard to win her mother's love in a hopeless battle because mother-love should never have to be earned.. it should be a given.
And the dog and bird is to remind me to NOT FORGET them!!! If she leaves her toadstool shack house, who's caring for the macaw and the faithful dog? (On my real list I put "Hoyl" and "Achilles" the animal's names, but here I thought it would be clearer to use what rather than who...)
Here's the list for "Back in the Saddle":
- Horse (Yesterday's News on my real list)
- Ranch dogs (Kita and Bee Bee on my real list)
Here's a good reason why this helped me with these two books. Last spring we talked about how to make a story stand out in a series... and this series has several similar key elements in each book. Rugged, handsome cowboys, horses, the exact same family ranch, the exact same family, the exact same town... so I had to make sure that I diversified the stories to be individual and distinct. Looking at the bullet lists gives you a quick idea of how that worked, because while so much of the series is the same... the bullet lists present a very different dynamic for the reader, right?
I know there are lots of more intricate ways of doing things out there... but I like simple. I'm a simple woman who loves to write, and keeping things simple helps my productivity. And I'm a big believer that a writer's very best friend... and the key to success in a volatile and changing marketplace... is productivity. And the best way to do that is to write, to sit down in that chair and get the 1k/day done. Remember: 1K/Day is 365,000 words in a year.
That's FOUR BOOKS.
There's really no secret to productivity. None at all. It's simply to sit down... and do it! And the bullet lists help me make each day count!
Hey, we've got this G-O-R-G-E-O-U-S book releasing in 5 days, but you can win it here today...
I've got THREE copies to give away, and I'd love to draw your name out of Stripey's cat dish! And if you win, I'd love your review on Amazon or B&N or Christian Book dot Com... those reviews matter to readers who are browsing...
And if you'd like to join my newsletter list, let me know in the comments... but be sure I can either find your e-mail or send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Coffee's ready and we've got carrot cake to celebrate our NINTH BIRTHDAY for the early birds... Let's talk romance, cowboys, faith and writing, and let's see if bulleting the story's points can work for you! Remember, our birthday bash goes ALL MONTH LONG, no days off, so make sure you stop by regularly.... And huge thank yous for being with us today!
Multi-published, bestselling author Ruth Logan Herne is having the time of her life whether she's writing sweet books or selling pumpkins or teaching small children life-long manners... You can join in the fun with her on facebook (friend Ruth Logan Herne) or on Twitter @RuthLoganHerne or stop by her website to see what's going on! She's also over at Yankee Belle Cafe today with a wonderful Cheesy Biscuit recipe that the cowboys of the Double S Ranch love, love, love!