Every book has a beginning, usually different for every writer, so I thought I’d share my process.
The idea for the next story usually swirls around in my head for a while – odd scenes, characters, dialogue or even images I’ve stumbled across. When I sit down to start I always have some key points established.
I’m a plotter. Have tried pantsing it, but it doesn’t work for me. So the first thing I do when starting a new story is cover a school exercise book in plain paper and write my working title on the cover. I know, old-fashioned, but I find it much easier to have my notes on the desk beside me when I write.
I draw a mindmap with the first murder victim in the centre and the cast of characters scattered around them. The lines indicate relationships between characters and I’ll write a few words along the lines explaining their relationships, clues and red herrings.
I then note the key moments for each scene from start to finish. Just a couple of words like ‘murder 1’ or ‘dinner party’ to help jog my memory. Not to say it will finish like this but it gives me an idea of pacing and structure.
My next step is to write a synopsis – I’ve found it gets the key moments and conflicts in order. Then when I finally write The End it’s a relief to know the synopsis is drafted.
Writing! I switch to my computer, but my notes are always right beside me (I also jot down anything I need to remember for later as I go, like eye colour or favourite food). I write in MSWord and scene-by-scene.
I have a very strong internal editor, so I often write with my eyes closed to stop myself editing as I go. Word’s ability to auto-correct my bad typing helps with this.
I switch back to paper for editing, then time to start the process again and tell my next story.