Wednesday, May 16, 2018

My Story Process


By Debby Giusti

Our town holds a weekly Farmer’s Market and folks in the surrounding area bring their produce, farm fresh eggs, honey, baked goods and handmade items to sell. I snapped some photos last Saturday of the beautiful vegetables and wares all of which brought to mind the verse I chose for my writing soon after publication.

It was not you who chose me, it was I who chose you
to go forth and bear fruit.
John 15:16

As a fiction author, my fruit is my writing--the stories I create. In Seekerville, we discuss various aspects of the writing craft and techniques that improve production and make our characters more engaging and our plot more compelling. Today, let’s look at the process of pulling a story together.

When writers mention their story process, I often think of whether they’re a plotter or pantser, use Schrivener or follow one of the how-to techniques, like James Scott Bell’s Write Your Novel From the Middle.

In this blog post, I’m veering away from those traditional processes and revealing the stages I use to produce fruit and go from initial concept to completed manuscript.

As with anything, a story begins with an idea…

The Lightbulb Moment

Eureka! I get an idea. Often it’s visual, a picture in my mind’s eye, such as a still shot of an opening scene.

The Introductions

A character—either the hero or heroine—has tapped into my subconscious and plants that opening glimpse of a story. I need to get to know her better and find out what she’s trying to tell me. Some characters are forthright. Others refuse to divulge information. I woo those elusive characters with chocolate and long walks or by staring into space until they start to reveal themselves to me. 



Bookends

The opening, inciting incident draws the reader and the editor or agent into the story so I start the action with a BANG! Similarly, I need some idea of how the story will end. Not the resolution as much as the climax, the battle between my heroine and her nemesis/villain/antagonist. 

Backstory

What has happened in the hero or heroine’s life to bring him or her to that inciting incident? Who is this heroine and why is she in this particular situation? Am I interested in the character?   

The Big Three

I start to dig, needing to uncover the character’s goal, motivation and external conflict. What does she want/need, why does she want it and what’s stopping her? Like a woman using a grocery scale, I weigh the GMC to determine if it’s worth the time and energy needed to write the story. 



The Pearl of Great Price

The special treasure that also needs to be unearthed is the internal conflict, which, in my opinion, will make or break a story. What’s the character’s wound? What’s holding her back from living life to the full? What keeps her from being the person God created her to be? 

Begin to Write

I start with the inciting incident and introduce the love interest as soon as possible in the first or second scene. (Note:  If the love interest doesn’t appear until the second scene, I mention his or her name or allude to it in the initial scene. The love interest also needs a worthy GMC.) 

Set the Ball in Motion

The action in the first chapter propels the hero and heroine into the story. Chapter Two moves that story to a no-turning-back point that hooks the reader at the end of Chapter Three. 


Build the Framework

Like a carpenter, I build a fast frame on which to hang the various story elements. That’s my synopsis. In my opinion, the synopsis is an invaluable tool for the writer that shows how the story will fit together. The synopsis leads me through a series of steps that go from point A—the inciting incident at the onset of the story—to point Z—the resolution and/or epilogue. No matter how rough, I need that basic frame before I start to write the remainder of my story. 

Hit SEND!

I pray before emailing the first three chapters and synopsis to my editor and then breathe a huge sigh of relief. The most difficult part is done…or so I think. I usually give myself a day or two away from the story as reward for my hard work thus far. 

False Euphoria

I feel optimistic about the proposal and falsely believe the story will practically write itself. 

Proposal Accepted

My editor gives me the go-ahead. I pull out my AlphaSmart and start to write the next chapter. My euphoria plummets. Writing is hard work. I review the synopsis that I thought was so brilliant. I slowly type one word after another and question how I can call myself a writer.

My Trusty Timer

I grab my kitchen timer and set it for 30 minutes. The tick-tock-tick spurs me on. When the timer dings, I stand and stretch, get a drink of water and grab something to eat. I set the time for 30 more minutes and type more words.


 The Challenge

My daily goal is to fill an AlphaSmart file that will download into my computer as 25 pages of text. I break the writing into 30 minute segments, which means I need six, 30-minute writing sessions to create roughly 5,000 words a day.

Ride the Roller Coaster

Sometimes I have bursts of creativity when my fingers fly over the keyboard. At other times, I struggle to pull a phrase together. The scroll of the AlphaSmart screen becomes hypnotic and lulls me to sleep. I eat to stay awake. I brew tea and drink cup after cup. I chew gum, sometimes a pack a day. I stare out my window and wish I was anywhere but sitting in my house with my AlphaSmart.

Push to The End

I keep writing without editing or rereading until I type THE END.
The rough draft is done. I’m happy, but despair follows all too soon as I realize how rough the draft really is.

Rewrites

I set a two-week deadline to work though the story in three or four editing sweeps, tackling 50 to 75 pages a day. I don’t want picture perfect at this stage. Instead, I tidy up the biggest problems first, then do a second sweep to clean up more debris. By the third review, I begin to see the pages come to life and am optimistic about the story.


The Worst Ever

Around this time, I invariably go through a “This is the worst story I’ve ever written” phase. My husband and children remind me that I always hate the story, hate the plot, hate the writing, and most of all, hate the author.

Deep Edits

I roll up my sleeves and tackle the remaining problem areas. This rewrite requires patience and stamina. More gum, more tea, less sleep. No outside distractions allowed.

Total Immersion

I enter totally into the story. Live it, breathe it, eat it, sleep it, then pray and repeat the process.

Final Read

I read the story in web format or change the font to pick out typos and errors. Make more changes.

Print Hard Copy

Give to Beta Reader. Make changes. Read hard copy. Make more changes.

Final Checks

Review chapter numbering. Add scripture and dedication. Write Dear Reader Letter. Type cover letter to editor.

Pray! Gulp! Hit SEND!




I mentioned a few places where I pray, but in reality, I pray almost constantly as I’m writing a story. I start the day with The Writer’s Prayer and often stop to call on inspiration from the Holy Spirit when I’m struggling to get words on the page.

Let’s discuss your fruit and your writing process. Can you “see” your story before you start to write? Do you understand story and how the parts fit together? Do you invariably have holes in your plot? Do you struggle with sagging middles? Are you too verbose or do you leave out major turning points? Do you build a framework before you start to write? Do you write a synopsis early on or after your story is written?

Leave a comment to be entered in a drawing for the first two books in my Amish Protectors series, AMISH REFUGE and UNDERCOVER AMISH, along with a 2018 calendar/planner.



I’ve brought scrambled eggs, hash brown potatoes, cheese grits, bacon and biscuits for breakfast. The coffee is hot, so is the tea. Get some food and pour a cup of your favorite beverage as we delve into your story process.

Happy writing!

Wishing you abundant blessings,
Debby Giusti


Amish Rescue
By Debby Giusti

Hiding with the Amish

Englischer Sarah Miller escapes her captor by hiding in the buggy of an Amish carpenter. Joachim Burkholder is her only hope—and donning Plain clothing is the only way to keep safe and find her missing sister. But for Joachim, who’s just returning to the Amish, the forbidden Englischer is trouble. Trapping her kidnapper risks his life, but losing Sarah risks his heart.

Order HERE!

Watch for AMISH CHRISTMAS SECRETS, book 4 in the
series, coming October 2018.
































           


83 comments:

  1. Debbie, I thoroughly enjoyed learning about your process. I like the idea of taking 30 minute breaks, and will try to implement that.

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    1. Carla, the ding of the timer reminds me to take a break. Otherwise, I could sit for hours and never move, which isn't good for the body. Plus, I sometimes become dehydrated when I write so those water breaks are important.

      I hope the break idea works for you!

      Hugs!

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    2. Debby, I'm the same way about moving. I, too, can sit for hours if I'm not careful.

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    3. When I'm in the immersion phase, I sit for hours hardly moving, except my fingers over the keyboard. I'm totally into the story, as I mentioned in the blog. When I finally leave my computer, I sometimes wonder if I can walk...my body has adhered to my chair, my "mouse" arm aches up to my neck and I can hardly straighten my back. That can't be good! :)

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  2. Good morning, Seekerville! I'm pouring a second cup of coffee. Hope you'll join me today so we can talk about your writing process!

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  3. Debby, this is similar to what I do although mine is not so formalized. Maybe it would be if I were blogging about it. I tend to get my main character and setting at roughly the same time, and I tend to get a glimmer of my ending, so the real work for me is structuring the inside and working and reworking it until it's right. Easier with a sequel, especially if I'd laid the groundwork in the first book.
    Right now I'm working on my own discipline. Was fairly disciplined before I sold, but this is a whole new universe, answering to SOMEONE ELSE'S deadlines. Fortunately I have some experience from my journalism career, but this is way more important.
    Debby thanks as always for a great post.
    Kathy Bailey
    Working it in NH

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    1. KB, ironing out the plot and who the characters are takes a lot of time. I can easily spend a month forming the story, which is too long. I'm trying to speed up that part of the process...but, as I mentioned, often the characters don't readily reveal themselves or their story.

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    2. Debby, I also take a month or even more for the planning. It's crazy how long that can take me! Of course, I think part of that is fear. haha

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  4. More specifically...I write the first two or three chapters, just to get voice and a sense of who's who, and then I identify the issues they're going to be facing and hammer out an outline. Then I work in GMC for both main characters, for every scene. Let it set and go work on something else, come back and see things I need to shore up, do that, let it set again, make sure I've got the formatting right and unleash it on the general public, usually through a contest. Mine the contest feedback for anything I can use (TWO OUT OF THREE RULE) and rewrite part or all of it, then MAYBE approach a publisher or agent. It will change now that I['m contracted, but basically it's keep at it until I get it right. Debby says it better...
    Did my first round of edits for contracted book and it wasn't all that traumatic, just set aside a block of time and tackled it. God knew what He was doing, letting me sell only after I semi-retired, because I have the time for this. God always knows.
    KB

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    1. KB, I sold after my children were out of high school and in college. Thankfully! As you mentioned, God knew I wouldn't have had the time necessary for the writing if the children were still at home.

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    2. Kathy, once I sold my first book, I was thankful I hadn't sold earlier (because of small children). God knew the perfect timing.

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    3. I used contests a lot in my unpubbed days, KB, to determine if the story/synopsis and three chapters worked. Contests are a great tool for those heading toward publication, IMHO.

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  5. Replies
    1. Folks come to Seekerville a bit later these day! I'm heading to church. Will return in about an hour.

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    2. I have worked so much lately in between attending graduation ceremonies that I have barely been here. But school ends Tuesday and I will be done subbing for three months, so I will have plenty of time again in Seekerville!

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  6. Blogger hasn't eaten my comments for a while. Did you banish him to the dungeon? Do you even HAVE a dungeon?

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    1. No dungeon, but I'm glad blogger is being good!

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    2. You better whisper that of Mr. Blogger will hear and start eating comments again! :)

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  7. Debby, I loved this post!! It's so good to see someone who does things in a similar manner. Your process is very much like mine. It's also reassuring to see that even you have doubts too. Goodness, I always get to that part where I think it's the worst thing ever written in human history. I always need someone outside to look at it objectively. That's the point where I have my critique partners go over it. Which is where things get REAL (lots of things wrong with it, but it's fixable!). I always appreciate their input to make it better!

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    1. Glad I'm not alone, Missy! The family has reminded me so many times that I always go through that "Worst Book" phase so now I realize it's a part of my process...not a good part though!

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  8. Good morning, Debby, and thank you for the delicious breakfast.

    I love this post. I like to see how other writers go through their process. Mine seems to vary from book to book, though I'm starting to settle into a groove. And I'm working on another new story.

    One thing you said that really jumped out at me was under The Pearl of Great Price. You said: What keeps her from being the person God created her to be?

    That is an excellent question. I love that, especially as I'm thinking about this rather complicated woman who is currently roaming through my brain. Today, I will be asking her that question, though I doubt she'll be forthcoming. I'll have to woo her, ply her with chocolate, or who knows what else, since she's pregnant.

    Yes, this could be an interesting day. Thanks, Debby.

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    1. Let us know if she reveals anything, Mindy!

      When brainstorming PROTECTING HER CHILD, my critique partners suggested the widowed heroine should be pregnant. At first, I questioned their suggestion, but it provided so much motivation for the story. My heroine had to protect not only herself, but also her unborn child, which upped the stakes. I was grateful for their suggestion and happy that I accepted their advice. :)

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  9. Debby,
    Thank you for your post. I finished my very rough draft Monday. Last night I prayed, Lord I'm not sure how to edit. This morning I felt led to Seekerville. I know your post will help me. God does answer prayers.

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    1. Theresa, it sounds as if God wanted you to know about the three editing sweeps. I could spend days revising one sentence, which used to bog me down! Now, I push to do those fast fixes. Each time I return to a problem area, I see it more clearly and can make the necessary changes. If I get stuck in a particularly rough section, I'll leave it for more intense editing once I've done the three sweeps. I've been able to increase my writing pace because of that editing tip and hope it helps you as well!

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  10. I agree with Mindy... the Pearl of Great Price idea struck me as well. What a well thought process for book production... thank you so much for sharing it with us all today!

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    1. Ruthy, I always want to be like you and set a daily writing goal that ends up with clean pages! I've tried to follow your lead, but it doesn't work for me. After a number of attempts, I threw my hands in the air and sighed, saying, "I'm not Ruthy!" So I continue with my roller coaster process that can be a love/hate relationship at times. :)

      As Polonius says in Hamlet, "To thine own self be true."

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    2. I like you just the way you are, my friend! And your work shines... It absolutely sparkles with warmth and intrigue, just like it should.

      And you know I'm no stranger to the love/hate scenario, LOL! We do whatever it takes to create... and then we get out the polishing cloths!

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  11. What a fascinating, detailed article.... to one who is not an author but always an avid reader, all my life. It is so interesting to learn from the other side of the pages. Thanks!

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    1. CC, we love readers!!!

      You said it perfectly..."the other side of the pages!" Sometimes it's a battle to get the story written. LOL!

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  12. I enjoyed reading this. Hope you are doing well.

    Dad is in surgery again. Waiting to hear.

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    1. Praying for your dad, Wilani. Such a worry, I know. Sending hugs your way.

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  13. Love this post. "The Pearl of Great Price" is so spot on, for a reader to feel if the book is good read or not. This step by step is pretty awesome on giving us a bit of insight into the minds of our favorite authors! Thank you!!

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  14. Wow, thank you for sharing what authors go through to publish a book.Makes me appreciate authors even more.Your books sound great. I love books about the Amish.Thank you for the chance to win. rose blackard (at)gmail(dot) com

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    1. So glad you could stop by today, Rose! I love Amish stories too! Hugs!

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  15. EXCELLENT POST, Deb!!! And I'm relieved to know I am not the only author who HATES the chapter/scene/book I wrote when I'm done, thinking it's the worst ever!! :)

    But 5,000 words a day??? YIKES!! You are far more committed than I am, my friend!!

    HUGS!!
    Julie

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    1. I've written 5K a day...once or twice...when I was behind on my deadline. But to do it every day? I'm not sure I could, but I'm willing to try. :-)

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    2. Waving to Julie and Jan!

      When I'm writing 5,000 words/day, I'm on a tight deadline and need to get words on the page. I've exceeded that a couple times when the words were flowing. If I have more time, I'll do half a file or three-quarters of a file in a day and then finish it the following day and start the next file. The AlphaSmart doesn't show pages or give a word count so I gauge everything by having completed a file, which downloads to 25 pages of text or approximately 5,000 words.

      I'm sure both of you write a more fairly clean first draft. Mine is very, very rough.

      Julie, I wonder if all writers have that "Hate this Work" stage? We need to do a survey! :) I read a book once about writing and art. The author said an artist always sees the work as better in his mind, and what he produces always fall short. Interesting, but probably true.

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  16. I love this look into your writing process, Debby!

    I'm on my favorite part of my next story - getting the characters to speak to me. So your "Pearl of Great Price" resounded with me. I know one character's inner journey and it's well fleshed-out in my mind. But my other character is silent so far. I'll have to woo her with chocolate!

    Looking forward to your next book!

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    1. The problem with wooing a character with chocolate is that I always gain weight! :)

      One of my heroes was a problem. I couldn't get him to work. Then I realized I had given him the wrong name. Once I changed his name to something that better suited him, the hero came alive. Funny, huh?

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  17. Oh my. All I saw was pray, pray, pray! That's my mantra!

    Can you “see” your story before you start to write? .... yes, before I start, I see it ALL and it seems so easy. All I have to do is start typing. Then I start typing... uh oh...

    Do you understand story and how the parts fit together? ... Mostly, but I'm always learning

    Do you invariably have holes in your plot? Oh yeah...

    Do you struggle with sagging middles? Yep. I take a nap and try to forget about it!

    Are you too verbose or do you leave out major turning points? I write lean, but try to include the major turning points as much as I know about them.

    Do you build a framework before you start to write? ... Yes, loosely, but most of the time it changes as the story starts to come together.

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    1. I'm laughing, Pam! Love that your sagging middle puts you to sleep! That's what my Alpha does...I fall into a trace and suddenly I'm in la-la-land!

      As I mentioned in the blog, writing is hard work!!!

      Amen!

      Like you, the story looks easy at the beginning. Of course, it becomes very difficult soon thereafter. :)

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  18. It is always interesting to see how someone writes. I have an ide but when I was in school had the research paper done before I could do an outline because the outline never matched the paper if I did it first.

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    1. That's so true, Ann! Often the story veers away from the synopsis, but that's okay...as long as the story works.

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  19. First I have my "idea hitting me over the back of the head" moment (or what you call, your Eureka moment). Then is the scrambling stage in which I try to figure out how I can write this, things like POV, tense, characters, the type of romance I want to show- this stage depends on what idea I got that hit me over the head whether it was a plot or a character, everything else has to come together at this stage.

    Then is the brainstorming stage, in which I try to get all of the ideas together. As I brainstorm, scenes play out in my head (however as I start trying to write, those scenes end up being the hardest to get on paper because I have a hard time translating it from my head, movie version, into book format)

    Then comes the writing, for the first 20,000 or so words it's smooth sailing. About midway through I lose traction and have to force myself through the draft. Then I near the end and am basically marathoning the book.

    The next stages look something like this:

    Finish the draft.

    Feel elated.

    Rewrite
    Edit
    Rewrite
    Edit
    Bash my head against the wall
    Repeat

    Send story out to betas, let them read it, maybe throw in another rewrite. And somewhere in all of that editing, rewriting, having other people read it and proof it, I buy a cover and publish it.

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    1. You know your process, Nicki. Good for you! How many books to you have out?

      I didn't mention brainstorming, but I love to brainstorm and it can be so productive. Thanks for mentioning it in your comment!

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    2. I wish it was a little bit of an easier process :/ I've published two books, though I'm in the process of rewriting one of them (frowny face); I'm currently trying to publish a novella, and I've finished the first draft of another book, but I decided to stick around in the "feel elated" stage a little longer before I got to the "bashing my head on the wall" stage.

      The rest I'm still in the first draft stage.

      Brainstorming is invaluable!

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  20. Loved this look at your writing process, Debby! I also pray as I write, but then I "pantser" my way through the rest of the process. I'm hoping to develop into a plotter someday. The first things I write are conversations between the hero/heroine, and even the supporting characters. After that, I write in layers/passes (I didn't know that until I saw those terms on Seekerville). I do that until it resembles a book :-) Thanks for such an interesting post!

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    1. How interesting, Laura, that you write in passes or layers. Someone I know, I think Terri Reed, writes her whole book in dialogue first and then goes back and adds the other parts of the story.

      I'm a plotter, but I give myself room to be a pantser as I work through the story on my AlphaSmart. Have you thought of doing a fairly loose synopsis or overview of your story at the onset?

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    2. Debby, I'm giving that a try, because I'm writing the second and third books of two different series right now. But it's slow going. Like you said, writing is hard work. Yet I can't think of anything else I'd rather do.

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    3. Laura, Hallee Bridgeman writes that way. She does a really fast draft that's mostly dialogue. Then she goes back in layering everything else. If you haven't read her post, be sure to go to the archive and look her up.

      In fact, here's a link to her post: http://seekervillearchives.blogspot.com/2015/12/writing-in-layers.html

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  21. It interesting the process a writer goes through to make a story great.

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    1. Thanks, Kim, for stopping by the blog today!

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  22. Thanks Debby for sharing your writing process in such a detailed way. I’m so encouraged - because I can definitely relate! There’s such magic in that first glimmer of an idea - and such angst in the middle chapters and that middle stage of clean up edits. And the lows of ‘worst story ever!’ to ‘best I’ve done!’ (well, not too much of that!) before the elation of reaching THE END, when she’s polished to her prettiest, and hitting SEND. And the prayers. Thank God He answers prayers!

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    1. Glad you can relate, Carolyn! And so grateful for answered prayers. :) For me, writing is a roller coaster ride, for sure!

      Hugs!

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  23. I love your process! I love the range of emotions that accompany writing a novel...

    And I LOVE the idea of changing the font on your ms for a final read through to catch typos! Brilliant! I am so going to do this!

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    1. Glad to provide a tip that might help you, Erica! Hugs!

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  24. Debby, I really enjoyed reading about your process if writing a book from start to finish and how you manage your daily writing. I will have to use this to get some tips for myself.

    I already have Undercover Amish but would love to win Amish Rescue.

    Finally have a free evening after many nights of working at the book store. Getting ready to head out of town. Tomorrow I work in the morning, then we are driving to Denver for my nephew's high school graduation on Friday.

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  25. Sandy, congrats to your nephew. How nice that you can be there. This is always such a busy time of year.

    Hope my process provides some tips you can use in your own writing.

    Hugs!

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  26. Hi Debby, I'm glad some of us are still up! Thank you for a peek behind the curtain at your process. I remember when Alphasmarts first came out and I couldn't afford one even then. I have "Cold Turkey" on my computer though when I want to really concentrate. The book I just sold was the first one I wrote the synopsis for before I wrote the book. Coincidence? Lol, I don't think so...although the other three books I wrote that didn't sell I'd always used GMC as well. But I get the idea first, then the characters, and usually a couple of scenes in my head like a movie. I tend to see the story unfold in my head like a movie and get those strong scenes down first and write towards them or back to them, like James Scott Bell's book Write From The Middle. And I put Bubble comments in beside things I want to research or change, and change font colours to type in notes as I go in the first draft. I use Dragon Speak when I want to get large chunks down because I broke my left elbow and wrist last year and really needed to get that book done. Then I used ProWritingAid editing software to clean it up. I highly recommend both programs, although ProWritingAid is just an annual licence that you'll need to renew. Dragon Speak is a God Send if you're in the situation I was in, or if you just want to up your word count. It's easy once you've got the learning curve done. And it gives your wrists a rest for anyone with carpal tunnel issues. And if I'm recovering from a migraine I can dictate too. :)

    I'm also very visual so I'm old school and when I'm "pre-writing" like I am now for books 2 and 3 I've got white boards from Walmart that fold in two. I've got character photos, setting pics, maps etc. on them - the kind of stuff you do on Pinterest but I like it set up on a dining chair so I can just glance over at it. I print out bits of dialogue or quotes etc on it like a vision board. Keeps my head in the story and after I've taken my breaks (I tell Siri to set a 25 min timer and I type as fast as I can and take a 5 min stretch break) it gets me back in sync. I write from 10 to 4 as those are my most productive hours. So, that's my process so far. :) I have your books Debby so don't worry about putting my name in the draw!

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    1. Laurie, thanks for sharing your process!! I'll be sure to check out those folding white boards. What a great idea!

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    2. Laurie, thanks for sharing your process and for mentioning DragonSpeak and ProWritingAid. I'm not sure I could dictate a story. Are you visual or auditory? I can see where it would save your hand and arm though. I could use that as well. Thanks, Laurie, for your support!!!

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  27. Super late stopping in, but wanted to say I LOVED this post, Debby!! It's fascinating reading about the processes my favorite authors use, and it reminds me that even multi-published, award-winning, very successful Authors (like YOU!!) still have struggles as you write your story. But I love that you pray as you go along, and I'm sure that helps!

    Thank you for this wonderful glimpse into your writing. You are such an amazing Author and an inspiration.
    Hugs, Patti Jo

    P.S. I'm loving AMISH RESCUE and will be posting a review soon! :)

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    1. Patti Jo, you were up late like me! :) I actually didn't go to bed until about 2 am. I have a feeling I'll need some caffeine soon. :)

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    2. Patti Jo, you're always so encouraging. Thank you, dear friend. My writing style is love it/hate it/love it! :)

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  28. Hi Debby,

    I'm a day late, but I'm so glad I stopped by. This is definitely a keeper post. Thanks.

    We went to KY over the weekend for Mother's Day and drove by a Farmers' Market. I miss those so much. Where I live now, there are little produce stands scattered around, but it's not the same.

    Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Jackie, I'm glad you had a chance for a trip back to KY!

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    2. So glad you could travel back to KY! Such a beautiful state. I always love going there. Our Farmer's Market isn't large but it's a fun stop and I always come home with produce and fresh baked goods. YUM!

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  29. Wow, what great advice. Thank you very much. Nice to know those who have published still struggle. Would Love to read your Amish suspense.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by Seekerville, Tammie! I think all writers struggle. Well, maybe a few don't but I think most of us have those times when we don't think the story works! :)

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  30. Hi Debby:

    This is a really good way to go about writing a story. I've copied it into my Scrivener Research file for instant reference no matter which project I am working on. I also have an AlphaSmart which has a wonderful keyboard but with the tiny screen my short term memory is over taxed! Can you really remember what you wrote a full page ago?

    An idea: I would move up some of your 'final checks'. I like to add the scripture first and have it reflect the moral premise. This way there is fusion from the start. I then tend to focus my prayers thru the lens of the MP and scripture selected. This makes me feel like my story knows I'm praying for it.

    I also like the write the last chapter first and make it a 'stand-up and cheer' powerhouse to sell the next book. This last chapter also acts as a shining city on a hill should I ever hit a sagging middle. I just look up, see the light, and think: oh, if I can only reach that city! I think doing this would even help pantsers as it gives their free-style wanderings a bright target to aim for.

    Talking about pantsers and plotters and plot-driven and character driven stories, you may have introduced a third writing dichotomy when you wrote that you work 30 minutes and then get something to eat. That may be more than nine meals a day. I hope you're a 'grazer' and not a 'wolfer'. :) Plotter, character-driven, grazer.


    That brings up another point. You wrote: "Like a woman using a grocery scale, I weigh the GMC to determine if it’s worth the time and energy needed to write the story."

    How do you overcome the temptation to put your finger on the scale when it involves a story of your heart?

    Some more points: I like to write a few sample questions that will be raised in each chapter to keep the reader turning pages. That is I want to think in terms of raising questions instead of just telling the reader things. Lots of declarative info can be structured as questions in the reader's mind which become AE's to have answered.

    Lastly, I like to list some secrets that the major characters have. There's nothing like a whisper to get the room's attention.

    Just some very late in the party ideas!

    Vince

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    1. Vince, I love your process and suggestions! You're right about choosing a scripture at the onset. I'm going to put that Vince-tip into practice. Also like the idea of posing questions for each scene/chapter. BTW, I often think of your RPP when I'm writing my stories.

      About weighing the GMC, if it isn't weighty enough, then I tweak the GMC until it better fits the story and character. Early on, I had to do that a number of times. Perhaps I started writing too soon...before I could "see" the entire story. Whenever I hit a bump in the writing road, I always review my GMC. Often the internal conflict is the problem. I haven't gone back to the initial wound. Sometimes we mention an internal conflict, such as the heroine doesn't feel worthy of love, but we need to identify the first time she felt that way. What happened? It's a turning point in her life and should play into the story. So my advice, always find that first incident that made the heroine have that flawed self-image.

      I love secrets too! In Countdown to Death each character, even the secondary ones, had a secret. The story was fun to write. Hmmm? Must add more secrets to my next book...

      Thanks, Vince! I always enjoy your comments!

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  31. So interesting, Debby! I've never heard of the AlphaSmart. :)

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    1. HI Julie, the AlphaSmart is a small word processor, first developed for special needs children. It's durable, lightweight, works on 3 AA batteries and has few editing functions. Writers started using them to get words written without that internal editor causing problems. I've had mine for years and rely on it for writing a fast first draft.

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  32. Thanks for this post, Debby! I'm not a writer, but I so enjoy reading the Seekerville posts and getting to know some of you better. It's fun reading the comments and seeing everyone's reactions. Keep up the great work!

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    1. Thanks for being with us in Seekerville, Winnie! I hope you realize that we LOVE readers!!! Your opinions and insights are helpful to us and we always appreciate your support!

      Hugs!

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  33. Thanks for sharing your writing process. You are apparently very good at sticking to your schedule. I am looking forward to the final two books in this series.
    Blessings!
    Connie
    cps1950(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. The deadline keeps me focused, Connie! Plus, I get into the stories and want to find out how the hero and heroine get together. I've got the framework, but sometimes I don't know all the little details until I begin to write.

      Hugs!

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  34. So agree with the constant need for prayer every step of the way, Debby. Thanks for reminding us all to start every writing day in the presence of the Holy Spirit, praying for inspiration and direction.

    Donna Wichelman

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