Guest Post with Jocelyn Adams

The Birth of a Novel

One of the most daunting moments for an author—at least for this author—is to stare at an open document with the words “Chapter 1” across the top.

Holy, freakin’ yikes! 

What now?  How can I possibly begin to assemble the chaos in my head that is my idea into something that won’t make readers want to yawn and chuck it in the fireplace after the first paragraph?

That’s a damn good question, and it doesn’t have an easy answer, unfortunately.

I’ll do my best to explain how I do it, and the process begins long before I ever open that document.  Although I write some dark stuff, I’m not into torturing myself by staring endlessly at a blank page.  J 

The moment between waking up and getting up is my favorite time, the time when the house is quiet.  My body is relaxed, warm and snug in my bed.  My mind is ready to create. 

If I step back and allow it to happen, considering my idea for the book and where I could begin, scenes begin to play in my mind’s cinema.  Seriously … and no, I’m not crazy.  J  Well, maybe a little.

Characters interact, come to life in color, texture and personality.  Their unique voices form and begin to speak to me, to one another.  Potential conflicts rise and develop, along with the eventual solutions.  I get a true feel for who these people are by watching.  Often they become someone completely different than I originally thought they would.

I know what you’re thinking, how could that happen if it’s all happening inside my head?  That, I don’t have an answer for, it just happens.  As I watch, I’m throwing ideas at those characters.  What if …  If we did this, then …  How would you react if he/she did …

The scenes change.  The story develops scene by scene.  Not in detail, but in concept.  I often do this for days or weeks before I find the starting point, and continue doing it chapter by chapter even after I begin.

The key to that starting point is starting as close to the primary conflict as possible while still giving just enough space for a little backstory.  The first thing I learned about writing novels is that nine times out of ten I won’t get chapter 1 right on the first try.  I also learned to finish the story, then go back and write chapter 1.  Even if it takes fifty times, it will be what makes or breaks the novel with agents/publishers/readers.  It has to be right for your story to be told.

I like to begin with action—bang!—right in the thick of it.  Maybe not at the main conflict, but another smaller one that leads up to the big one and shows who the main characters are at heart.  It’s important to raise questions in the reader’s mind, ones they just HAVE to know the answers to.

That’s the magic to creating a compelling story.  Easy?  Not even close.  What was that my teachers used to say, that nothing worth doing ever is?  Agreed, and the trying is a whole lot of fun.

How do you like your books to begin?  Slow, easing you into the world and story?  Or wham-bam into the action?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

About Jocelyn Adams

Jocelyn Adams grew up on a cattle farm in Lakefield and has remained a resident of Southern Ontario her entire life, most recently in Muskoka. She has worked as a computer geek, a stable hand, a secretary, and spent most of her childhood buried up to the waist in an old car or tractor engine with her mechanically inclined dad. But mostly, she's a dreamer with a vivid imagination and a love for fantasy (and a closet romantic — shhh!). When she isn't shooting her compound bow in competition or writing, she hangs out with her husband and young daughter at their little house in the woods.

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Purchase Links:
Shadowborn: Amazon, Barnes & Noble
The Glass Man: Amazon, Barnes & Noble

Back of the Book:

Why me?
That’s the question Lila Gray asks every time yet another bad guy tries to destroy the earth, and she learns she’s the only one who can stop it. Once again, something’s on the prowl, leaving hundreds of comatose, soulless victims in its wake.
Couldn’t the deadliest assassins of the Otherworld go after someone else instead of the brand new Queen of the Seelie? One who still hasn’t adapted to her new role.
Lila would ask Liam Kane, King of the Unseelie, for advice, but something’s off with him, too. He’s holding back. In some way. About some thing. In fact, he refuses to tell her what’s going on.
The truth holds Lila back from the greatness of her role—the people she was born to lead—the man who she desperately loves—and the solution to the latest war raging around her.
To find the answers, she’ll need to fight through her own darkness and embark on a journey through her psyche.
If she doesn’t succeed, the Shadowborn will claim not only her world, but her soul.


1 comment :

  1. Thanks for letting me take over your blog today. :) It was fun.


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