I chatted with Ruth (Thank you so much for hosting me!) about what topics her readers most preferred, and she mentioned that posts about an author’s writing process are often interesting. I know that I love to take a peek at how other authors go about writing their books, so that sounded like a fun topic to me.
I’ll be honest, my process continues to evolve even now. I am in the middle of writing my fourth and fifth books, and I have yet to use the same exact method twice. In particular, I have been playing with storyboarding as part of how I write.
The first book I published, Blue Violet, I wrote entirely without storyboarding or outlining. In fact, I didn’t even write it in sequence. I had a very specific scene in my head of a falcon watching over a family who were about to be attacked. Little did that family know that the falcon was a friend of theirs who could morph (only one of her many powers). And little did the falcon morpher know that a member of that family was destined to become her te’sorthene (a fated love). That scene was the first I wrote for the book. It’s not even at the beginning of the story – it’s actually smack in the middle. Everything else grew from there. I wrote scenes out of sequence as I figured out how my heroine got there and where the book went from that point. Writing in random scenes also helped with I got hung up on things, struggled with transitions, or hit writer’s block, or get really excited about a particular scene. That method really worked for me.
With my next book, Hyacinth– a follow on to Blue Violet and the second book in the Svatura series – I was a tad more organized. I didn’t outline exactly, although I had a more defined beginning, middle, and end in mind. I would write scene ideas down in Microsoft OneNote and cross them off as I completed them. I still skipped around when I wrote the scenes, rather than writing the book from beginning to end. I will admit that it helped that I was building off of the first book. Each book in the series focuses on a different main character and a different romance, but the overarching concepts were already in place when I wrote Hyacinth, and that made things easier.
I only just released the third book in the Svatura series, Crimson Dahlia. This one I did some major storyboarding on. I found an awesome software called Scrivener. It has a feature that looks like different colored notecards on a cork board. I LOVE this software. I was able to storyboard in a detailed way, but adjust the scenes as I wrote (individual details or sequencing in the storyline). I could still skip around when I was writing the scenes – which I already knew worked for me – but then I knew where/how those random scenes would fit together. However, during editing, my beta readers pointed out that I had added some extraneous scenes that didn’t move the story forward and even bogged it down. Soooo… maybe I relied too heavily on the storyboarding. I ended up shrinking those scenes down or scratching them altogether.
I have three projects currently ongoing. I am one of six writers contributing to “Here, Kitty Kitty,” an anthology of paranormal romance stories featuring exotic cat shapeshifters. It’s scheduled for release October 6th. I’m also working on the first book in a new series called the Shadowcat Nation. “Hannah’s Fate”, my story in the anthology, is a lead in to this new mountain lion shapeshifter series. And, of course, I’m in full gear working on “Black Orchid” which will be the fourth and final book of the Svatura series. I’m aiming at a February 2014 release for that.
I have already done the full storyboards for all three of these projects, and I still write in random scenes rather than from beginning to end. The storyboarding helps me keep organized and the skipping scenes habit helps me get past writer’s block. But on top of that, I’m already storyboarding books further out in time. Since I write in series I find it helps me to make sure I’m alluding to upcoming events and setting up for new plot twists appropriately.
Based on my own experience, I absolutely recommend storyboarding as a writing technique. Just make sure you are flexible in how you apply it as you write. And only use it if it fits your own personal writing style.