After more than year of working almost non-stop on Novel #2, I decided to take a little break after completing the third draft. I needed time to work on my query letter and synopsis, so it felt right to put it aside and simply let it breathe.

Too bad my novel didn’t get the memo.

Instead of leaving my brain for a little vacation, my characters and story decided to set up a permanent camp. There is no rest for characters dying to tell their story and a world that can’t wait to be imagined.

I learned a long time ago to never ignore those little voices or creative surges, so I pulled out my trusty novel notebook this week. It has all my notes, sources of inspiration, and outlines from Novel #2 and now it will house all my scribblings for the sequel.

The brainstorming has begun as I piece together a working storyline. The trick is making sure the story picks up where the first book left off, yet is strong enough to stand on its own.  I’ve always had a basic framework for two sequels in that I know happens and how they will end. What remains fuzzy is how my characters will reach those end points. I need to figure out details and fun plot twists!

I began by re-organzing my notebook to ensure the first half will always be for Book 1 in the series. I moved all magazine clippings, images, and outline drafts to make room for whatever I collect for Book 2. Furthermore, I added tabs to separate one book from the other.  For a brief moment I considered moving to a separate spiral, but then I realized some of the inspirations from Book 1 are still in play and I need them to stay close.

Next, I started compiling all the random notes I’ve kept over the last year concerning Book 2. They are hiding on two hard drives, a notepad app on my phone, and throughout my original handwritten notes for Book 1. I’ll be rewriting every single notation so they’re all grouped together in one place. Call me old fashioned, but I like to write my initial notes by hand when starting a novel. It makes me slow down and think carefully about what needs to happen in the story.

I’ll be honest in admitting that the brainstorm stage is my absolute favorite part of the novel writing process. I get a little buzz from from making things up without any limitations. While the work is sometimes grueling, I love the surprises that come as I dig deeper into my fantasy world.

The process has only just begun and there is much to do:

  • Construct a detailed outline (with room for changes)
  • Create a playlist
  • Create inspiration collages (images and text that relate to the story and themes)
  • Fill pages with free write notes
  • Create new character profiles
  • Research (places, historical references, mythology)

There’s at least a couple of months of work on this list, but I’m giddy just thinking about it. This is going to be fun!

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What’s your favorite thing this week?

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c.b.w. 2013

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