Stephanie Hurt – Romance Author

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Outlines, Notebooks & other such things…

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It’s Saturday morning and I’m ready for a little rest and restoration. Of course, you know I’ll be writing, it’s my Saturday thing to do. When you run a busy accounting office, most of your intense writing comes on your days off.

Take notes... You'll need them later...

Now with intense writing sessions, you have to use your time wisely. This is where detailed notes and outlines come in handy. When I sit down to write, I like to have everything at my fingertips. If I’m writing a book, say, for instance, Breakwater Lane, I want to have my character information close at hand. Why? Well, it helps me to just look at the character list beside me. If I forget a secondary characters name, I just glance at the list and keep going. But without this list, well, I’d have to go back to where I last wrote about them to check. That takes away valuable writing time.

Outlines are helpful…

I’m an outliner, most of the time. When a story comes into my head, I like to sit down and outline it while it’s fresh. If the story comes in bits and pieces as some do, then I just write down the basics of what has come to my head. As with Sky Ridge Series, I have in my head what each of the three books will be covering, but without the outline, I’d overtake the story from the next book. I want to make sure that each book covers its own situation.

Don’t let a lack of organization throw you off track…

Some people say that outlines mess them up and that’s ok. Everyone has their own style. It’s the way we’re made. But for me, outlines keep me focused on the story at hand. You might ask if I’ve ever changed a story from the outline? Yes, several times. Take, for instance, Finding the Right Time. I had it completely outlined, but my characters would not behave and they went off script. If you’re not a writer, that might sound a little off, but it’s true. Characters can have a mind of their own and they go off down the rabbit hole, leaving the outline in the dust. That’s when you pick up the outline, dust it off, then adjust as needed. It works, believe me.

Notebooks… Notebooks… Notebooks…

Now, I have notebooks for each of my series. I keep details about characters that are in each book. That way I keep up with who died, who left to never be heard of again and such as that. On my stand-alone’s, I don’t always have a dedicated notebook, just an outline with notes in the margins. I put the characters at the top, then the outline. But the notes in the margins can be added characters, character flaws or just location descriptions. Anything you think will be needed later, add it.

It only takes a second to lose that train of thought…

So, to sum up, my rambling from above, if you feel disoriented or unorganized when writing, it’s normal. But there are ways to make it easier on yourself. These are just a couple of the things I do.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

 

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Series Writing…What I learned…

 

img_2612Good morning! I hope you’re having a blessed day. Me, I’m in mama mode, or as my son calls it, flood mode. By that I mean, our son graduates from high school tomorrow night and every time I think about it, I cry. I’m so proud of him and happy for him, but as a mama, well, I get a bit nervous and anxious, knowing he’s about to embark on a new chapter in his life. It’s hard to let go, but we do have to let them spread their wings. Ok, enough of thought, salty tears in my coffee isn’t very good.

Series… Have you written one yet? If you have, then you know the struggles. The first one goes pretty well as writing goes, but when you start on the second, if it’s a continuing series, well, the problems start. Do you remember this about a character? Do you remember the neighbor’s name that will be appearing some in the other books? What did you name the dog? Wow, yeah, that’s where the fun really begins…

Here’s what I learned, the hard way and hopefully it will help guide some of you into writing series without the struggle… I’ve attached a picture of the front of one of my series notebooks for the Sky Ridge Series.

When I first started writing, I decided to do a series where a couple of the books were connected. The problems didn’t start until the second book. I was constantly looking back to see about facts and such. It was horrible. I had so much to write but between the looking back and double checking facts, it took longer to write the next couple books.

So, when I started the Women of Magnolia Hill Saga, I began a journal on the series. I kept a timeline, character sketches, and places. Since this is a historical romance series and I tried to stay in line with history, somewhat, I printed out a timeline of the time period and marked where each book started and ended. This helped some with details.

Then the fun really begins. I had to keep up with who the oldest sibling and youngest sibling were. Also, in this series, it spans many, many years, so, sadly some of the main characters from the earlier books die. I had to keep up with their age when they died and how. That way when a character looks back, it’s factual, not pulled from my brain which doesn’t remember a lot these days.

The character and place parts are very critical. If your character has a child, well, you can’t just go on with the story and not include the child. That child will eventually grow up and surely he or she isn’t kept in a dark closet until future episodes. So, detail is very important.

In the Magnolia Saga, there is a magnolia tree in the front yard where every member gets married. I have to remember where it is. In my mind and my notebook, I have a sketch of the property. It helps.

With my newest series, I have a composition book for each series and I include the outline, characters and where they all cross paths. Since the Wishful Harbor series is all around the same time period, I have to make sure to keep up with the comings and goings of everyone, even the mailman. LOL!

I’ve sketched the town of Wishful Harbor and plan to have the sketch at the front of each of the five books in the series. That gives the reader a sense of knowing the town and lets their mind live in that town. I’m so excited about this series because it intertwines together to make a beautiful story about a sweet town. But, it couldn’t happen without my notebook of facts.

So, how do you keep your series straight? Does this help you to possibly tackle a series in the future? I hope it does. But remember, I’m always here if you have a question.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

 


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Forgotten Work!

Well as you noticed in yesterdays post I’ve been cleaning my office, which is a rather large job. As I was cleaning out some file boxes I ran up on an rather large notebook. When I opened it I found a spiral bound notebook inside. I pulled it out and was going to put it in the office supply pile, which was growing rapidly. I have a bad habit of losing office supplies only to be found later when I open a clients file and there it is. I drive my assistant crazy 🙂

On with what I found. I decided to open the notebook to make sure it had paper left in it. Well to my surprise I had started a story inside this hidden notebook. For a moment I just stared at it wondering when I’d started this hidden story. Since I was in a cleaning mode I put it to the side to check out later. My eyes kept straying to the notebook on the corner of my desk.

I carried the notebook in my house and opened it like a child opening a Christmas present. I was so excited because truly I did not remember this story. As I read the first couple of paragraphs I was taken back about five years. This was a story that came to me suddenly in a dream. Of course I was so excited when I finished reading. It was actually about twenty pages of writing. The story started to come into focus and well as any writer would do I started getting excited.

It’s funny how these things happen. I know what you’re thinking and yes I will be finishing my works in progress. I had strength and put the notebook beside my chair. I know this story has a ending in my mind, but I’ve promised my wonderful fans that I will be finishing the 2nd books in three of my series. I do have deadlines to follow, but boy this story has taken a toll of my brain.

So I will reveal a bit of it really soon, but for now I’ll finish up my works in progress. But who knows, maybe I can multi task. No, promise I’ll be a good little writer and finish what I’ve started 😉

As always, great writing and May God Bless You…