Please join me in welcoming Gloria Clover to Other Worlds this morning! I hope you enjoy her post today about her writing process!
Just One Way to Write a Novel
Throughout my years of writing, I have been asked many times, “So how exactly does a person write a novel?” Of course my answers vary depending on time restraints and my perceived interest of the person asking the question … and the truth. How I write a novel has changed in thirty years.
Once I would have began with “spark” that certain thing (character, dialogue quip, what-if question) that played in the author’s head and wouldn’t let go until a story had formed.
Now I have a futuristic series that I’m building around individual islands in an archipelago that was colonized by members of ancient civilizations and then kept separate from the rest of the world. So I have a new starting point: the map of the Archipelago of Solumnus. I pick an island. I pick a civilization. I pick something that that civilization was known for (book 1, Rome, entertainment/games) and then I apply it to something our current society can relate to (sports/movies/entertainment). That particular activity gets warped into the island deception (playing instead of working; escapism mentality to survive a hard world).
Because I write from a Christian world view in my very made-up speculative world, I next consider what physical element or earthly disaster I’m going to tie to a characteristic or facet of God. In book 2 (Greece, stoicism, materialism) titled The Fire Starter, the earth element chosen was fire and the tie to God was His proclamation that He is a jealous God and a Consuming Fire. I also play with that imagery in the plot (a forest fire and laser guns), the back story (a fire storm that wiped out much of the island), dialogue (Amaryllis’ favorite expression, “Burn it.”), and, of course, the theme.
Once I know the ancient civilization, the island deception, the earth element and characteristic of God to focus on, I consider the people, the main character, the island back story and the main character’s back story and personality. The type of person who would live and rule (in whatever sense that turns out to be) on that particular island. Jym Fontayne, the Commander of the Dharani Army in book 3 has been reared in the belief of Determinism and the assurance that everyone has his/her place and purpose. He needs to get his world back to how it should be. (Ancient civilization: India; island deception: Caste System; imagery: ice/snow; book title: From the Frozen Depths).
And once I have the main island character considered (not locked down), I turn to the second main character (I write is romance with a side of fantasy and adventure), the one sent by the King to reclaim his lost lands, is always the opposite gender and will become the love interest as well as the spiritual advisor of the main character. And, of course, they need to be as opposite or contrary to the main character as possible because the trick to writing romance is not having two people fall in love, but having two people wildly in love with each other stay apart for 90,000 words.
And, then, once setting and characters are settled in, I start to consider the story plot—what the characters will do for those 90,000 words. And even my plotting has changed with the size of the book I now write. With these bigger books, I try to plot five (instead of three) major plot points. These are action scenes, not reflective, and rarely is the main thrust romantic or spiritual, though those elements need to be woven into the story action just as seamlessly as the character goals and motivations. But never have I met a person who wanted me to go into that much detail of how a novel gets written.
So, if you haven’t walked away from me by this point, I’ll give a sheepish shrug and say, “Well, that’s how I write a novel, but everyone does it differently.”
About the Author
Gloria Clover writes the Children of the King series for By the Vine Press. The first five novels in the series are available. She’s also published a short devotion book called Who We Are in Christ A to Z which is 26 alphabetized devotions on, you guessed it, who we are in Christ. Her contemporary romances have been published by Barbour Books.
Short link to the box set of Children of the King, books 1-5: https://amzn.to/2G3yE8c