Saturday, September 20, 2014

Sunday Musings: September 21 2014

Here let me show you

I joined the internet, oh about, twenty-two years ago. Chat rooms where from listserv addresses and you had to dial-in to connect. A real pain if someone picked up the other line and disconnected you. About nineteen years ago I discovered yahoogroups and a whole new avenue of connecting, this time with writers.

I believe there comes a time when everyone experiences a moment of "ah ha" and the mental light bulb goes off in surprise. For me it was these yahoogroups, I thought I knew how to write a story. Hey, I had been writing them for years. Now, heck, I'm still learning, but I'm no longer "ah ha" surprised. Granted, I have other "ah ha" moments, but those I'll save for a different musing.

Like that lead-in to this week's musing? Here we go:

What part of the writing process surprised you the most?


I think the revision process has surprised me the most.  Sure, I moan and groan about doing it but once I really hit my groove?  It’s as if I’m taking a chisel and chipping away the rough edges of my writing to reveal the diamond hidden underneath.  Love when that happens! 

You kind of have me on this one.  I've been writing so long, since preschool, that the whole process simply grew along with me.  I think the greatest surprise was my experience with the editing process.  I'd heard horror stories, but instead I have encountered talented individuals whose thoughtful work and comments have polished and improved each manuscript.  The requested author input is also a pleasant surprise.  When I first entered the realm of a published author, the writer had no say about cover artwork or anything else that went on the cover.

MEG AMOR, author

Aloha Chris and everyone! :-)

What surprised me the most was how wonderful it was to have 'The Muses' turn up and take over. Or one of my characters to go 'rogue' on me and realize I'd just hit the vein of gold because of it.

It used to terrify me when I first started though. I'd think. OMGod they're gone. I'll be stuck, nothing else will come... argh... gah... and other appropriate panic responses.

Once I learnt to trust it. I knew that another piece would come when it was ready and not to worry. And it always does. It made writing so much more fun than my previous book which I nearly had to hold a gun to my head to finish, because I MADE myself write when I didn't have any juice.

Now, I write when the Muses are here. They fly in periodically from The Bahamas, raid my booze cabinet, make themselves at home and I take dictation. Then they jet off again and leave me to the fun bit - editing. :-) I actually LOVE to edit. And I love editors too.

It's such a great process. You watch a nugget of a gem get cut and polished. All the rough edges gone, and it shines. Gorgeous. A good editor is worth their weight in gold!!!

Thanks and aloha

DAWN KNOX, author

It always amazes me that a story - even a whole book can start from something very tiny, such as a comment, an overheard conversation or an unusual phrase. I'd never heard of a 'thin place' but once it was explained to me, my imagination went into overdrive and 'Daffodil and the Thin Place' was born. Even more amazing is that stories just pop into my head from nowhere!

Sometimes an idea completely unrelated to whatever I'm thinking about appears in my mind and becomes the basis of a story. It doesn't seem to be anything I have any control over, so I'm always surprised when it happens.

Two things took me by surprise when I began to write fiction. One was how the characters which I created (by giving them particular personalities including strengths and weaknesses) took on a life of their own as I wrote - indeed I began to think of them as real persons. The other was just how much research goes into an authentic setting for a story. Sometimes the amount of reading I’ve done, say of a learned tome on the development of refrigerated transport and storage ends up as one small paragraph or speech in the story. I remember a rule of thumb quoted at me in a former life when I had to prepare presentations - one hour of preparation for every minute you intend to speak. It’s like that with writing only even more extreme.

I continue to be surprised by the amount of historical research necessary to recreate the past to the best of my ability in my novels. I read and read and read until something sparks an idea for a novel. For example, I read about James II, King of England's flight to France. Most of the noblemen had sworn an oath of allegiance to him and many refused to swear a second oath to his daughter Mary and son-in-law William of Orange. What, I asked myself, would be the effect on the children of two noblemen who followed James to France instead of making the oath?

 The need to research meticulously continues to surprise me. This week while working on my new novel, Monday's Child, the sequel to Sunday's Child, I researched Regency engagement rings, snuff boxes and Brussels lace.

Of course, I doubt any historical novelist can get every tiny detail right but I try my hardest.

Well, nothing about the process itself, really. As part of the process, and I consider this an integral part of the process, it is the amount of marketing/public relations activity and establishing your own "brand" that is the big surprise. Quite often I think this is more important than the process, especially when being published by small publishing houses. I've also heard that in larger publishing houses you're still pretty much on your own until your writing starts generating big bucks, then they will jump in and do a lot of that for you. I guess writing is no longer just writing, but a process. Oh well...


What truly surprised me--and you Pantsers will testify--is the 'messages' you receive from out of the blue, telling you what comes next in your writing. This, IN SPITE of thinking you know your own story! I was on 61,000 words last week, and the solution to the crisis came to me in a dream. No, it wasn't at all how I thought the plot would be resolved!

One time, I was on P80 of a romance, when these two little girls entered the book and COMPLETELY stole the plot out from under my romantic hero and heroine. It has to be re-written, but it will be a wonderful novel, because the muse came and opened my eyes.
I love it when that happens.

J.Q. ROSE, author

 Here is my "take" on the process--Thanks.

When writers talk about "the process" my understanding is they mean the method they use to create their manuscript from the beginning of the first chapter through to the end of the last chapter. Part of the way to accomplish this is to sit in the seat and write! Oh yes, the ideas come while I'm in the shower or taking a walk or in the middle of the night when those darn characters are talking to me. But the actual ms does not take shape until I put fingers to the keyboard and words on the screen. I discovered my process to accomplish this is to set aside time right after lunch to write. Knowing that I planned to write everyday at that time gave me a sense of confidence to attack the next part of the story and immerse myself into it. Now that confidence was a welcome surprise! When the chapter(s) or hour or two hours I set aside are done, I don't feel guilty for leaving the laptop to do other things in my day. Do you have a time devoted to working on your manuscript? Does it help you with the writing process?

I've been writing for quite a while, so I can't remember what was initially surprising for me. Though one thing that I've recently discovered that I find surprising is just how many options there are in a story. Especially for novels, at any one point, you can branch off into so many different directions, choose to follow different characters, make different obstacles, etc. I used to plan my stories and sort of box myself into events that had to happen a certain way. But there are so many more things that could have happened. It's up to us as writers to choose what story we want to follow. Of course, some stories and characters are much better than others, but the sheer number of things you can write about is overwhelming sometimes. So that's what surprised me and continues to surprise me, because it's not that when I set out to tell a story, that it has to go a certain way, but every little part of it could have been otherwise, and so it's up to us to choose the right story for us to tell that's important to us.


The revision process is what surprised me the most. It's amazing how many times I can go through a manuscript and find parts that need fine tuning. Overall, it's a process that I find enjoyable. It's great to be able to produce that final, perfect piece of writing. What an awesome feeling!

I think what surprises me the most about the writing process are the emotions I feel when a scene begins to unfold. Those times when I have that 'aha' moment and I know exactly what's going to happen next. Or the times when my characters become 'real' to me. I never expect to get so caught up in writing a story, but it happens every time.

Dear reader, thank you again for joining us and we’d love to hear from you. Keep smiling and have a fun week. Never stop believing. See you next Sunday…nothing better than being cozy in bed with some Musings.

If you have a question or comment you’d like us to muse upon, do not hesitate to contact me Christine Steeves-Speakman  at

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