My Writing Process
So How Does My Writing Process Work?
Um. Now that IS a good question.
Every author is different but I suspect that I am not so different from other romance authors in that it takes time for the best ideas to rattle around inside my brain before they emerge fully formed with a cast list and images of locations and scenes all slotted into place.
Most of the time my romance story ideas come from a situation I have experienced or read about or seen in a movie, and then my mind plays around with characters and their backstories and plays the
‘What-If’ game until I have an idea which could work.
For example. In my Harlequin Kiss book, Trouble on her Doorstep, the idea came from popping into a small tea room and cake shop when I was in north London one day. It was small, family run, charming and packed full of a wide range of customers. And there was a huge range of tea which I adore and delicious homemade cakes and scones.
Now I have to confess that I am a total tea addict and have a long standing interest in tea which started on a holiday to India. This research was fun!
So I played the ‘What-if’ game. What if the heroine of this book was a tea importer who has opened a tea room and cake shop in London with her best friend who is the star baker? What kind of person would she be? What does she want in life -besides the tea of course?
Then we have the most indulgent treat – coming up with the hero who is worthy of my heroine and give him a powerful character arc which his relationship with my lovely tea fanatic will instigate.
The follow up book – The Secret Ingredient – is all about her best friend who is the baker in the tea shop.
Did I mention that I love food and drink and could not last a day without tea?
What happens next when I have the bones of an idea?
I am a scientist and academic by trade and a shameless Geek Extraordinaire. Swot and proud.
So it will come as no surprise to you that I like to use tables and checklists and question sheets to plan my story.
Who are these people? Why are they at the end of their tether when the story starts? How have they come to this place in their lives and what baggage are they carrying because of that?
I have to know how I want the hero and heroine to change over the course of this story as a result of their relationship, so that the emotional story structure makes sense and tracks through in a consistent way.
Some of my heroines have more baggage than Victoria Beckham on a trip to a Paris fashion show but by the end it will work out.
When I submit my proposal to my editor I know the characters and their situation pretty well and what kind of rocks I am going to throw at my hero and heroine to stop them from being together before they can earn their happy ever after.
I made the mistake of showing one of my proposals to an author friend once. She ran away in terror. That is why every author is unique and has their own process.
I think of these outlines and character arc charts as being equivalent to an architect’s plan. They set the foundations and floor plan for the story world and lays out where the walls are going to be. Four walls and a roof.
But every home owner knows that the real fun comes when you get inside and start the real work on making that basic shell of a building into a home.
And the characters DO surprise me and come up with emotional conflicts which move the storyline away from my original plan, but actually make it stronger because I am digger deeper as I work and they start talking to me.
How does my work differ from others in its genre?
I write contemporary romance with a quirky, witty twist which is heavy on dialogue and banter and light on the sex scenes between characters I care about.
Why Do I Write What I Do?
Because I want to write the kind of books I liked to read.
I want to be entertained and amused and have a positive empowering emotional experience through the pages of a book, or learn new information which will help me to build my career.
Writing fiction is a privilege and we are all part of a tough economic situation where discretionary spending is tight. Plus, there are so many multimedia ways that we can be entertained these days that choosing to read for pleasure can be a low priority.
If a reader invests her hard earned money for one of my books in any format, fiction or non-fiction, then I want that reader to put down the book/e-Book reader with a smile on her face.
What I’m Working On at the Moment
Right now I am working on something seriously so new and exciting and different that it is scary.
Non-Fiction Guides for Writers.
When I decided to self-publish my own work, I spent a lot of time finding out about the whole process of self-publishing so I could decide whether it was best for me.
Months of reading and research morphed into a series of eBooks which cover a wide range of topics about self-publishing, including my latest release – Your 30 Day Book Launch Plan. I know that many writers feel overwhelmed by everything that they have to do when they decide to self-publish their work, so this is a detailed step-by-step plan with weekly checklists which I know works because I have tested it.
Thank you again Liz for offering me the opportunity to share my writing process! I hope that you found it interesting.
Nina Harrington is the award-winning author of 19 romance novels which have sold over 1.2 million copies worldwide in 23 languages. You can find out more at: http://ninaharrington.com/