image purchased from CanStock and on the background for the cover of 'Bound for the Hills'
The first sentence in Bound for the Hills was typed January 4th. "Wilhelmina Agatha Tremaine Butler listened with pretend concern to the driver of the wagon carrying her and her possessions to the cabin she had rented for three months." Willy was on a journey, which would change pretty much everything in her life. 110,000 words later, her story and the rough draft came to its conclusion on February 9th.
Writing a book, for me, goes best if I stay with it, which means it is sometimes a grind. There are reasons to stay with it, even when my back is screaming-- quit that. One reason is how easy it is to forget what was written even two days earlier-- let alone if it's longer. I never start a book without having thought quite a bit about who the characters are, where they are heading and where they will end up. I learn more as I write. I like to stay with the flow, leaving time between scenes to think what is going to add to this event, make it more real. There are days I enjoy writing and days I have to make myself.
Almost universally, when I finish a rough draft, I think the story is a classic, the best thing I have ever written. A week or two later, when I give it its first edit, I think it's horrible, how could I have ever thought it was good? Multiple edits later I will be back to thinking it's good. I don't put out anything I don't feel positive about.
With the rough draft done, comes the week to write the blurb, which will be sent with it to Amazon, CreateSpace, and D2D (which sends them to B&N, Kobo, etc). I have just spent many words telling a story and then must reduce it down to say a hundred to let a reader know what to expect. Even though I dislike writing blurbs, they do let me see if my story has an arc that will not only be believable but also exciting to readers.
Since I began publishing my books, I've been on an arc of my own for learning. Arc is a word I only recently heard in connection with writing, in an article on The Notebook where Nicholas Sparks, its author, said he believed that the reason it was hard to find a star for the film was the actors complained there wasn't an arc for the hero. The hero began where he was and more or less stayed there with the heroine the one making changes. He defended why that was true, and I think what he said made sense. A character does not need to change if they are already where they need to be.
In my case, I think I generally write arcs. My characters do go through changes. I have, however, thought of it as Joseph Campbell's-- [The Hero's Journey], which I believe is not just true of mythic tales, but also of a life insightfully lived. We enter something new through a gatekeeper experience of some sort. It is not always something we'd have chosen of our own accord; but once in it, we go through steps that have the potential to change us, deepen our understanding of life, teach us skills, and strengthen our knowledge of ourselves. The hero's journey then returns home but with us changed by the experiences. The journey could be schooling, an illness, relationships, a task, moving, loss, so many things, but it is found in life as well as mythologies.
In my books, the hero and heroine both have a journey, and yes, an arc. They come into the journey through something that takes them out of their world into a new one. Through what they experience, they change and there is, in the end, a satisfying sense that they have grown through it. This is the nature of romances, not so much novels. Novels don't need to be positive in the end. I write romances because I see enough negativity in the world without choosing it for my writing. I have to live with these characters and their experiences for months at the least. I want to feel good for that time.
This week I began choosing images and words for the book's trailer. Book trailers are to share the physical reality and beauty, as I see them, in my stories-- like a little movie of sorts. Some of my readers say they enjoy them. I think they are especially good after the reader finishes the book when all the images will mean more. I've never felt they sell books, but they are what I enjoy doing for mine.
Other than that, I've had a little more time at the social media sites and not sure what I think about that-- so for now not saying. Same with the primaries. Sometimes I just plain get angry that we end up with so few candidates that I can feel good about. With the world in as big a mess as it is, I wish it was otherwise. This is a good time to be buried in creative work as it is certainly not a good time to pay much attention to what's going on in the world...