I’m starting a new feature here on my blog. Every week you, yes you, are going to get the chance to ask me questions. Whatever you want to know. If you’ve ever wondered something about being a writer, about my books, or even about me, this is your chance to ask.
This week, we’re talking inspiration and ideas. Jeannie asked…
Each author seems to have a different perspective when it comes to inspiration or ideas for a standalone or series. Do you write off the top of your head, or as you go so to speak? When you get an idea for a story, do you prepare an outline and work from there. When you get your inspiration, do you just go with it or do you have to think about it for awhile? Have you decided to make a story a series after you have started book 1 or after your fans have requested a 2nd book or both?
I love these questions! It’s a great topic to start out.
So, the first part… I’m a plotter. There are two kinds of writers – plotters and pantsers. Plotters plot everything out in advance. Pantsers write by the seat of their pants. I’ve tried pantsing, but it just doesn’t work for me. I create the whole story before I even sit down to write. I have a notebook (yes, that picture is of my notebooks – and my ‘map’ of Winterville) for each series with tabs for each book and details about the series as a whole. I create maps of my fictional towns (I print out maps of real towns and write in my own street names). I also have an entire character planned from a picture to refer to while I write and a character interview I complete ahead of time. I’m a little anal, but it works for me!
For the story, I do create an outline. I’m not overly detailed with it, but I use a process to lay out what is going to happen throughout the book. If things change a little as I go, I’m not so overplanned that it won’t work. My plan is general so the story can go where it wants as I write, within limits!
When I get inspiration, I do end up sitting on it for a while, but only because I don’t have time to write everything when I think about it! The books I’m writing now (May 2016) are books I thought up years ago. I have ideas for stories that I’ve been sitting on for years. I have my schedule already planned out for 2016, 2017, and 2018. Any new ideas I have will come after that! It’s crazy, but it’s wonderful to never be at a loss for words!
So series vs. single title is something I struggled with a lot at first. My first book (which isn’t published) was a single title, but then I discovered series and how much I enjoyed them. I definitely listen to my readers about what they want though. I’ve been asked for more books in all three ongoing series I have and more are on the way!
Thanks so much, Jeannie, for your question! If you have a question, send me an email (mary (at) maryethompson (dot) com) with Q&A in the subject and I’ll answer your question right here on the blog!