Tag Archives: write a novel

The Beginning of my Writing Process

26 Jun

First, thank you so much for all of your fantastic birthday wishes! I can honestly say that my 23rd birthday was the best birthday I’ve had. It was a perfect day. (I mean, I had mousse cake AND coffee. What isn’t perfect about that?) My Amazon rankings even went up! So thank you for your support, encouragement, and friendship. A little smile can brighten a day, but kind words can brighten the darkest life. Your words illuminate my existence.

Cue the dramatic piano piece. (Or trumpets. I think trumpets might work for this.)

So a few things happened the past few days!

Steampunk Sparrow’s Book Blog reviewed Minutes Before Sunset. You can read it by clicking here, and you can check out the award-winning, paranormal romance on Amazon by clicking here. (But it looks like so many of you checked it out on Monday! In fact, AEC broke their record for their best day of sales on my birthday.)

Other than that, I heard from my formatter at AEC Stellar’s Publishing, Inc. the other day. She hopes to have everything done by next week, so it looks like Take Me Tomorrow is still releasing this July. Yip-eee!

That’s why I’m writing this today: below you’ll find an accurate description of the BEGINNING of my writing process. My entire writing process is rather complicated, but I can cover the beginning because I kept a lot of the original notes (something I don’t normally do.) Call me superstitious, but keeping notes once a book has changed feels like something that holds me back from allowing the novel to grow into something new. So I hope you have fun! (You might even see some sneak peeks.)

First Step: The Spark of Inspiration

This is VERY unusual for me. Most of my novels, including The Timely Death Trilogy and November Snow, are based off of dreams, but Take Me Tomorrow was inspired by a conversation my father and I had in a Starbucks one afternoon. I was 19, visiting home from college, and talking at a hundred miles per hour. (Now – that is usual.) We were talking about drugs (legal and illegal) when we debated about futuristic drugs. What would they be like? What could they do? And that conversation was the spark of Take Me Tomorrow – a story that is grounded in the future where a clairvoyant drug has been released and outlawed. (I’ll explain why my father and I were talking about drugs in step four)

Second Step: That Spark Turns into a Flame:

As an avid reader and writer, I spend enormous amounts of time in bookstores. In fact, I began spending so much time in my local Barnes & Noble that most of the workers joked about paying me because they saw me helping customers so often. One night, while brousing the bookshelves, I found this postcard. (I apologize about the quality, but the postcard is four years old, and it’s taped inside the notebook I share below.)

postcard

I was attached. It felt like mine before I ever even touched it. And it felt like Take Me Tomorrow. Here’s the funny part. At no point in the book will you see these characters or this scene. I can’t tell you if it actually even exists, but I can tell you that it resonated with me in a way that even I cannot explain. I bought that postcard and I found my notebook.

Third Step: Feeding that Little Flame:

tmtnotenookTo the right, you’ll see the real notebook I used to write ALL of my original Take Me Tomorrow notes in. You should know that I have to have specific notebooks for each novel. I can’t write about four different novels in one notebook. Again, call me paranoid, but I feel like it disrupts the energy of creativity if I’m writing in Take Me Tomorrow, flip one page, and I’m in another book all together.

Fourth Step: My Flame Becomes a Giant Fire

I have a confession about my first three steps. I go through them all of the time, dozens of times, and I normally stop right there. Why? Because I find out that I’ve been fanning the flame instead of allowing my passion to keep it running. But Take Me Tomorrow is obviously one of the exceptions. It made it to step four because I am passionate about the story and the topic. Why? This is the dark side of the flame. I am VERY passionate about drug use. I want to clarify that I am not talking about me taking drugs – illegal or legal. I am just talking about understanding drugs. This has to do with my past.

My mother was a drug addict. She died from an overdose when I was eleven years old. One day, I will share more about this. But ever since I was old enough to understand, I spent days researching drugs – especially LEGAL drugs – and how they affect people. Much of this research will be in Take Me Tomorrow, and that research is the gas on the flame. To me, finding passion in the story and in the research is vital to writing my novels. I can admit that I want to share so much about my past in regards to understanding drug use, especially how my mother became an addict in the first place, but it might take me a while before I open up about it on here. It’s a very personal topic to me. But that’s also why Take Me Tomorrow is so important to me.

Fifth Step: Taming the Growing Fire

This is the last step in the beginning of my writing process. Once I have enough research on the topics I want to write about and symbolize, I begin growing the story with characters, worlds, graphs, and more. These maps, graphs, and notes include character profiles, height graphs, a calendar, moving maps, scene maps, past timelines, family trees, and more. Just so you can laugh with me, I added one of my beautiful maps below. (What can I say? All of my artistic abilities reside in my writing. I cannot draw.) This map is taken directly from Chapter Five and Chapter Six. And you can read a sneak peek right below that: (the entire novel is told by Sophia Gray.)

breakin

“You coming with or not?” he asked.

Miles shook his head. “There’s a cop right there,” he said. “It’s too risky, even for me.”

Broden checked his arm’s splint. “Wait in the car, then,” he ordered blankly as if he had expected Miles’ reaction. “Run if anything happens.”

Miles didn’t budge. “You’re going by yourself?”

Broden shrugged. “I didn’t come this far to leave Noah standing there, now, did I?”

“I’ll go,” I volunteered before the boys could argue. Both of them gaped at me, and I repeated myself. “I drove you two here. I think I have the right to go to − wherever you’re going.”

“Sophia,” Miles sighed. “You don’t want to.”

Broden lifted his hand to Miles, “She can come if she wants.”

“What if you guys get caught?”

“Then, we’re all in trouble,” he pointed out, “whether she’s waiting in the car or not.”

Miles mumbled curses to himself. “I can’t believe this.”

“Believe it,” I stated, marching over and pulling the black beanie off his head. “Now, give me your jacket.”

I hope you enjoyed this! Please add Take Me Tomorrow to your Goodreads shelf, email me at shannonathompson@aol.com if you want to review it, and I will share your review right here on ShannonAThompson.com!

As always, with all my love, I hope I can inspire and help you in your writing journey by sharing my personal journey with you. Please share your writing process below! Is it different in the beginning than in the end? Do you make maps first or during the writing? Do you make character profiles?

~SAT

Writing Tips: Character Chart

31 May

Over the past two days, I’ve had the pleasure of receiving two more reviews of Minutes Before Sunset and one interview about the behind-the-scenes of the work. And I’m here to share it with you all before I begin my “Writing Tips” sessions.

On May 29, Nada Faris, author of Before Young Adult Fiction, Fame in the Adriatic, and ‘Artemis’ and other Moms wrote a five-star review on Goodreads: 

“…This story has twists and turns (even the prophecy changes). It has magical powers, romance, and some funny moments. As a young adult novel, it will satisfy its readers. All in all, the first book in A Timely Death series, was promising. It sets the stage for more conflict. Seconds Before Sunrise, Book 2 of the series, is scheduled for release in fall 2013.”

Read the rest of her review by clicking here.

The five signed copies of Minutes Before Sunset are in the mail for the winners! Congrats!

The five signed copies of Minutes Before Sunset are in the mail for the winners! Congrats!

On May 30, Tina Williams, host of A Reader’s Review, wrote an analysis of my recently released novel while also expanding it with an interview/guest post: (Click the links to read more.) 

Review: “…Minutes Before Sunset is an original and compulsive read. The tale is told in the first person, with chapters told from the perspective of Eric and Jessica. This is effective in terms of both advancing the plot and giving depth to the characters. I particularly enjoyed the maturity and selflessness of the hero and heroine, Eric and Jessica, and found their growing attraction and love for one another both believable and sweet. The novel ends in such a way that I am chomping at the bit to read the next installment. Minutes Before Sunset is a magical, if slightly dark tale, containing romance and adventure, which explores fate and free will and self-sacrifice. I recommend it to readers of both adult and young adult paranormal romance.”

Interview: “As a much younger child, I often suffered from nightmares and night terrors (I honestly couldn’t differentiate between reality and dreams) so my mother had me turn them into stories in order to cope. My latest young-adult paranormal romance, Minutes Before Sunset, is actually a result of the same thing, but it was a different series of dreams. I was in a very dark time in my life, and I had dreams of a boy visiting me at night—just to talk. He’d ask me about how I was feeling, what I was going to do next, and what my hopes were for the future. When I got through that dark time, the dreams were quite literally ripped away from my conscious, and I was distraught. Despite my happiness, I still wanted him as if he was a real person, so I created a story explaining his visits. And Minutes Before Sunset was born.”

Special thanks to both of these talented and lovely ladies. I am proud and grateful to have such great supporters like you all. 

In case anyone is curious, Minutes Before Sunset is available as a paperback on Barnes & Noble and Amazon as a preorder. It will be shipped to you on June 14, 2013. Click the links to be directed to the website. (And don’t forget to let me know if you review it! I will put your blog right here.)

Now. ::takes deep breath:: The writing tips! 

I’m a big fan of graphs and charts. Seriously. I graph everything. (I’m sure I’ll do more posts on this later–you will not believe the things I can find ways to graph.) But why do I like to graph and chart?

Whether or not I expect it, graphs and charts show something–a pattern or lack thereof–and I think this visual information can help more than a writer (or reader) might originally think. So I came across one the other day called The Character Chart, and I wanted to share it with you all. I would take a screen shot and post it, but the website asks users to “link only” and use only for personal use, and I want to respect that. 

However, I will say that it is a great chart. It’s basically a questionnaire for you to print out and get in-depth with your characters about who they are, what drives them, and who they will become. I particularly like this one because of the detail involved (like self-perception compared to reality.) This is not to say that all of these details are completely necessary to know, but I do say this: this list will challenge you, no matter how well you know a character (especially minor ones), and you might learn something about your character you haven’t expected. I think this list is great for those who are also looking to bring depth to their character (or even to create an entirely new person!)

I’ll definitely be returning to it. Again, I’d share more about it, (I’d even share my answers for Eric or Jessica in Minutes Before Sunset) but I want to respect his copyright properly, so all I can really say is check it out :] And let me know if you’d like to see more interactive websites like this. I’ll be sure to share them as they come.

~SAT

P.S I hope everyone is enjoying the arrival of summer. I sure am! And I wanted to share a piece of my lake fun with everyone: Have a great (and sunny) day!

I'm on a boat...wait...a raft.

I’m on a boat…wait…a raft.

Writing Tips: Different Perspectives

31 Mar

On March 17th post: News: Submissions Closing and Minutes Before Sunset Info one of my followers, rolark, asked “I’m trying out writing from more than one perspective right now (it’s my first time!), and was wondering if you had any advice?”

And I do!

As many of you know, November Snow is told from two perspectives (Daniel and Serena) while my upcoming paranormal-romance novel, Minutes Before Sunset will also be told this way (by Eric and Jessica.) I love using this technique for novel writing, because I enjoy first person, but I dislike how it restricts the storytelling to one character during particular scenes that may be told better by another.

So I use first person by two people—generally one male and one female. Why? Because I generally have a romance aspect to my stories, but I also think men and women can bring different viewpoints to the table. (But so can every character–this is a personal preference of mine.)

One of the coolest part of writing is when one of your fans creates something for you. This is fan art from a novel of mine on my previous Wattpad account. Sophia and Noah, my male and female protagonists.

I love it when fans creates something from my writings. This is fan art from a novel of mine on my previous Wattpad account. Sophia and Noah, my male and female protagonists.

Personally, this is what I do (although 3 comes first, but it’s the longest part), and I’ll be using November Snow as an example:

1. Consider Syntax.

Change it up. One character’s thoughts may drag on, so the sentences are longer or dragged out, while another may make lists or sporadic lengths of thoughts. Consider using italics, colons, and/or dashes for one character.

Ex/ Daniel is often exhausted, so I used shorter sentences to depict his energy state. Serena’s sentences are longer. This allows the voices to seem different in the basic way they think.

2. Pay Attention to Diction. 

One character may use very flowery language, while another may have less of a need to elaborate.

Ex/ Daniel is very patient, but also anxious (especially when walking around Vendona, considering the government is after his kind.) So I always have his eyes darting around. He’s constantly surveying his surroundings, paying attention to the little details, and often loses his thoughts to the physical world. His language, therefore, does the same thing.

Serena is rebellious. She’s tired of conforming to the rules and hiding, so she’s often taking risks she shouldn’t be taking. Because of this, I don’t pay attention to as many details when I wrote from her perspective. She no longer cares. Instead, she’s focused on changing, so I show more details about relationships, people, and the future within her language.

3. Now Perspective. 

Now, I’m about to use a gender stereotype to explain where I’m coming from, but it’s for an example. You’re welcome to swap them around for different effects.

Men may pay attention more to physical action than detail, while women may focus on the little details. For instance, a man may describe someone running, while a woman may mention the fact that the runner was in jeans. These little switches in descriptions between your perspectives will help create a realistic viewpoint in the sense that it’s subconsciously differing from one person to the other. The character doesn’t even consider it; it’s simply a part of how they look at the world.

One of my favorite exercises:

Write a chapter in which the two characters are talking. Let’s say this chapter is written from Daniel’s. Afterwards, whether I decide to use it or not, I’ll write it from Serena’s. Make sure the dialogue and the physical actions are the exact same, but compare the thought process. How did the scene change? What does this change mean?

As an example, two people can be talking and Person A could notice Person B is fidgeting. Person A may assume Person B is nervous, but, when you tell it from Person B’s perspective, you learn that they are distracted, not nervous. These little bits can truly morph the way characters interact. I always encourage this exercise, even if the writer isn’t planning on telling from another’s perspective.

This always helps me understand the consciousness of the characters, and I feel more confident when I move onto a new scene.

You can always post questions for quick answers on my Facebook Author Page! Joining also helps me out, and I really appreciate the support :]

You can always post questions for quick answers on my Facebook Author Page! Joining also helps me out, and I really appreciate the support :]

My hope is that this may help rolark and other writers who want to play with this technique, but I also want to encourage others to ask questions.

I will always do my best to answer! (And you will get credit for asking the question.)

Have a great day,

~SAT

April 2nd: Writing Tips: Make Maps (Interior) 

Writing Tips: Titling Your Novel

18 Feb

I’m so glad you all enjoyed my Events page. I’m really excited to show my timeline with you (and, to be honest, digging through my portfolio was such an encouraging adventure! I hope you are inspired to do the same. It’s a confidence booster. I hadn’t realized how much media I’d done until I spread the articles across my desk. Plus, I’d love to see what all you have done and are up to!)

Through you all, I received a few emails regarding one line in particular: December 4, 2006—Finished writing November Snow (originally titled It’s Only a Matter of Time.)

Many of you were interested in why the title changed, how it changed, or what the title reflects, and I think this is a great aspect to consider when studying your own piece of work. 

Originally, of course, my novel was titled It’s Only a Matter of Time. The reasoning for this is a funny thing: it’s the last line, and I didn’t have a title for it while I wrote it. I’m a strict believer in not deciding (for sure) on your title until the entire piece is written. I think it’s smart to have an idea, but, many times, a book changes as you write it. You may write an entire manuscript and realize your characters aren’t who you thought they would be. Maybe you have symbols you never even considered. Maybe your setting changed. Your ending may even change. Either way, writing is a journey and it changes, even if you have a plan. Think of writing like life: You may have a plan, but things happen, and your path changes.

This is what I had to consider when I realized my novel was being published. 

I knew It’s Only a Matter of Time wasn’t appropriate. It didn’t describe the tale, it didn’t relate to my characters, it didn’t describe the setting, and it didn’t summarize my overall message. So I set out to discover what DID describe all of these things.

As many of you know, November Snow ONLY takes place in November. It’s told from two perspectives, and it’s in a made-up land, Vendona, in 2089. November 2089 is ridiculous, and Vendona’s November is confusing, because the reader won’t even know what Vendona is until they pick up the book. I couldn’t use Serena’s November, because it ignores Daniel, and the same aspect happens when I looked at Daniel’s November. Plus, the novel isn’t centered around their lives, but how their lives are effected. So what about November’s Election? Doesn’t work. In my case, I’m American, and our elections are in November; readers would assume it’s a fictional tale about our government systems, and that wasn’t my audience.

So I looked at my symbols. I have plenty–but, ultimately, snow is the most powerful image. Snow hasn’t fallen in Vendona in twelve years, and the snowfall landed on a very detrimental date in the tale. However, during this particular November, the weather is cooling again, and the ostracized “bad-blooded” children realize it may fall again–and there may be another vital moment.

I don’t want to spoil my novel, so I won’t say what happens, but snow does fall again.

Through this, I realized the falling of snow, not only effects my characters, but ultimately symbolizes the effect on my reader.

November Snow was born.

I describe my process in the hopes that you all, whether you’ve already written a novel or not, can decide on the most effective and honest title for your piece. After all, you wouldn’t want to publish it and later regret what the title said. Think of it as poetry: a poem’s title is vital to understanding the symbolic meaning of the delicate words on the page. Without it, the descriptions may seem obscure or confusing. The poem, essentially, may not make sense at all.

Titles ARE important–and the right one is vital. Choose carefully and use your heart to do so. 

~SAT

Because I like sharing little bits of my life with you all: This is a picture of my older brother with his cat, Bella, and my cat, Bogart. Who knew we were so related?

Because I like sharing little bits of my life with you all: This is a picture of my older brother with his cat, Bella, and my cat, Bogart. Who knew we were so related?

 

 

Writing Tips: How I Form Dialogue into Writing:

26 Dec

I separate writing into steps, so work with me here, and read twice if you need to start over after the end. This is an excerpt from chapter thirteen in a writing of mine, so don’t read for content; read for basic instruction to help focus on one writing aspect at a time.

First: Dialogue

Personally, I like to write out my dialogue at once, using an abbreviation for who’s speaking, so I know who’s speaking when I come back. This way, I don’t have to worry about description, but I can simply concentrate on the art of conversation.

In this scene, my protagonist, Amea (A), is crying with her back to the door when Emmy (E) checks on her.

EX:

A—What?

E—It’s Emmy.” “Are you crying?”

A—No

E—Good

A—What are you doing here? Where’s Leena?

E—Still sleeping.” “I was in the garden. I don’t play much, but do you want to come with me?

Second: Conversational Description

This is where I separate the speech, so it sounds more realistic and/or add basic character descriptions.

EX:

“What?”

“It’s Emmy,” she said, and I slid the door open as I wiped my tears away. She frowned. “Are you crying?” she asked, and I shook my head. “Good.” (I cut this dialogue to make it sound younger, as Emmy is nine.) 

“What are you doing here? Where’s Leena?”

“Still sleeping.” Emmy shrugged “I was in the garden. I don’t play much, but—” She grinned with crooked teeth. “Want to come with me?”

Third: Further Description and Edit

This part is where I add the description, placing the basic scene and adding to the dialogue with scenic descriptions

EX:

I slammed my bedroom door and pressed my back against it, sobbing. Water curled down my fingers, and I clutched my face, falling to the ground. I laid my forehead on my shaky knees as my body shuddered, vibrating as knocking rocked my entrance. (All of this is added)

“What?”

“It’s Emmy,” she said, and I scooted forward, (added necessary movement) sliding the door open as I wiped my tears away. She frowned, pulling at the ends of her curly red hair (added childish action), and rocked back and forth. “Are you crying?” she asked, and I shook my head. “Good.”

I smiled. “What are you doing here? Where’s Leena?”

“Still sleeping.” Emmy shrugged, pointing down the hall. (added—hall for scene) “I was in the garden. I don’t play much, but—” She grinned with crooked teeth. “Want to come with me?”

Four: EDIT EDIT EDIT.

It is necessary, so take that beautiful red pen of yours and get to work :D

I hope this may separate your writing into bits in which you can concentrate on important aspects one at a time, rather than worry all at once.

Have fun and write endlessly,

 

~SAT

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