Allie here. I’m busy putting the finishing touches on my Alaskan historical, and life has forced me to do a lot of writing in public places lately. Which means lots of people have stared at the two-inch-thick stack of papers in front of me and asked me what I’m doing. Which leads to the “I’m an author,” conversation, which leads to the inevitable, “Where do you get your ideas?” question.
I always give the same answer: “I don’t really know. I’m afraid if I thought about it too much I’d ruin the wonder of it.” It’s usually then that I get the “you’re one of those crazy artsy people, aren’t you?” looks, as if fiction should be more scientific. As if you could craft a magazine article entitled “How to Write a Novel in Ten Easy Steps.”
So I got to thinking....
Allie Pleiter’s How to Write a Novel in Ten Easy Steps:
1. Gather chocolate, coffee, a fussy laptop, and about 200 hours of uninterrupted peace. Start typing.
2. Dream up the woman every one of us would like to be. Then give her a few flaws so we still like her, because we can be a catty bunch and we’ll get mean if she’s perfect. Type until you break a nail. Get manicure before going on to Step 3.
3. Discover what she loves most, and then figure out a way to put it all in jeopardy. Replenish supply of chocolate and refuse any familial offers to consider decaf.
4. Dream up the man we all wish we married--mentally, physically, spiritually, and maybe even financially--and ensure he says the perfect thing at the right moment. Then mess him up a bit because every woman still holds to the fantasy that she can fix her man. At this point you will probably be typing faster, so keep your manicurist’s number handy.
5. Have a creative crisis. Throw manuscript across the room in fit of terror that your talent has somehow left the building and the book police will take away your future once they figure out the fraud you really are. Eat any chocolate you may have left.
6. Project aforementioned crisis onto your characters. Figure out the highest cost she’ll pay to reach her goal and then double it. Uncover the last thing in the world your hero wants to do and force him to do it--repeatedly. Make sure, however, to do all this between scenes of unspeakable tenderness and things so romantic they’d barely ever happen in real life.
7. Let your heroine and hero discover their love. Cry so hard your family members (and perhaps your pets) show concern for your perspective. Show spouse where the number of pizza delivery service is because doing something so mundane as feeding the family can’t compete with true love.
8. Have a family crisis. Every author worth her salt has one per book, often several. Really, how would we know what real life is if it didn’t keep sticking its nasty nose into our writing lives?
9. Type until every one of your nails is in hideous condition and the “e” is worn off your keyboard. Make your hero a better man because of your heroine’s love. Let your heroine be forever changed by the love of her man. Resolve their problems in ways that have you reaching for tissues every ten minutes.
10. Type “The End.” Consume much chocolate and more coffee, dance around the house in your sweatpants because who has time for laundry? Make sure your printer breaks just as you need to print it out--this is every author’s badge of honor.
11. Ha! You thought we could stop at ten? Start all over again, kiddos, now we need to revise.....
If you want to see how well this system works, check out my novella Bluegrass Easter in the March release, Easter Promises.