Why I’ll Never Write Another Book…

…the same way I wrote Unseen Motives.

Okay, got you on the title, didn’t I? Sorry, but I couldn’t resist. (For the record, I detest titles that begin with something like “10 Things You Must Do to…” or “Thirty-three Fascinating Photos of Haunted Places, #16 will shock you.)

But I digress…

I hope (and plan) to write several books. However, I recently finished the first rewrite of Unseen Motives. This book has been a long time coming and still needs more work, but I’m shooting for a publication date in September.

You might say Unseen Motives is my first book.  It’s the first idea I took from start to completion of the first draft. I got the idea for the story several years ago. I began writing it more times than I care to remember, only to set it aside, but somehow I couldn’t let the idea go. I knew I had to write it. (The Stranger was the first book published, but I didn’t start writing it until after I completed the first draft of Unseen Motives.)

After many years of “wanting” to write Unseen Motives, I began my first serious attempt in April 2014 during Camp NaNoWriMo. I set a goal of 25K words and easily reached it. I wrote another 20K during the July 2014 Camp NaNo. In November 2014, I decided to do the full NaNoWriMo. I revised and rewrote, and finally finished the first draft in April 2015, intending to put it aside for a month and begin edits.

I knew the draft needed a lot of work, so the procrastination set in. July…November…February…April. During this time, I wrote The Stranger as well as The Blue Moon Murders (featured in Unshod). In May, I knew the time had come. I’d put it off too long. The rewrite took longer than anticipated, but during the revision process, I learned a lot about writing a book.

  • Outline—I  “pansted” my way through most of this one, although I knew how where I wanted the story to go. I’m not much on an extremely detailed outlines, but a brief rundown/layout is helpful. A simple outline helps a writer stick to the storyline, but still gives room for unexpected twists and allows characters to take on a life of their own. In Unseen Motives, I had one character whom I intended to be a bad guy. I learned early on he wouldn’t allow it. By making that slight change, I got the idea for a second story, which has ultimately led to the idea for a third story in the series.
  • Write Tight—free writing is perfectly okay, particularly for those who feel the constant need to edit as they write. One of the reasons I put off writing for so long is my internal editor wanted to get everything right the first time. However, it doesn’t hurt to go back every 15-20K words and review to make certain your story flows and there aren’t too many blatant errors. By doing this, the finished first draft won’t require as much editing.
  • Have a set schedule/daily word count goal—I’ve learned CampNaNo and NaNoWriMo isn’t for me, but by participating it taught me I can set a word goal and stick to it.
  • Take a break—if you’re stuck, take a break. Get up, take a walk, listen to music, read, garden, or whatever it takes to clear your mind. And, if you don’t meet your daily word count, don’t beat yourself up. Circumstances arise for which we have no control. And there are some days when we just need to walk away completely. An occasional day off is perfectly okay and in fact, I recommend it. If God rested one in seven days, why shouldn’t we?

Over the next few weeks, I’ll share more about Unseen Motives, such as meet the characters, scenes and settings, and the book cover reveal. (You can see a brief teaser on the homepage sliders.) Closer to release day, I’ll share the full story of the book’s beginning. Hint—it has to do with a full moon!

  • I can’t wait to read it. And I agree with all your bullet points, too. Particularly the outlining one. I don’t do a detailed outline either. I like being able to be flexible and go in interesting directions that develop as happy accidents. But I think a basic roadmap is a necessity; without it, my books would be rambling messes. Best wishes, Joan.

    • Soon, Staci, soon! I agree an outline is helpful, but not one so strict as to not allow the story to breath. Some day I might show you the rambling mess this draft was. You just wouldn’t believe it. 🙂

      • It couldn’t be any worse than some of mine…

  • YAY! I’ll be in line to purchase Unseen Motives when it releases, Joan! Congrats on setting a deadline for publication.

    Your bullet points are excellent, too. I pants to a good deal when I write, but I do think having some sort of outline is a huge plus. My first NaNo experience taught me the value of planning ahead. NaNo also taught me to write without my internal editor interfering. I admit, for the most part I still write that way, but sometimes I just want to get the word count in and I’ll fall into NaNo mode in order to do that. Then I go back and clean up.

    BTW, got a chuckle out of your references to headlines 🙂

    • Thanks, Mae! I hope you’ll like the book. I agree, NaNo was helpful in writing without that internal editor. And really, which ever way we write, edits are still necessary. Glad you got a laugh about the headlines. I’ve been intrigued by many of those, click on the site, and waste a lot of time!

  • Joan, excellent post and an exciting one! I’m soon too pick up my dust-covered memoir draft and begin a rewrite. All this down time since January has given me the opportunity to think about what I need to do and how I want the story told. You motivate me with your fiction writing and your resolve to complete your projects. Loved the bullet points!

    • Sherrey, I’m happy for you and I look forward to your memoir! Glad I was able to motivate you, you have done the same for me.

  • Michele Jones

    Fantastic. I know that feeling when you finish something you have been working on for quite some time c

    • It is a good feeling. Going through the second edit now and it’s moving along a lot quicker.