Stephanie Hurt – Romance Author

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3 reasons to plan out your story…

After a day trip to the North Georgia mountains yesterday, I feel refreshed and exhausted. Why is it that when you take a long, although beautiful drive, it just drains you? That’s kind of how a story without a plan can do to writers. As in the picture below, without a plan, your story could collapse around you and leave you with something that is unstable.

Photo by Harrison Haines on Pexels.com

As you’ve read over and over in my blogs, I try my best to plan out as much of my books as possible. So, here are my three top reasons that I do that:

  1. Map out the story. In my opinion, and opinions vary like the fall leaves, but my thoughts are this. If you map out the story, you know, get the feeling of the ups and downs, then you can build the ebb and flow better. It helps to keep your focus on the writing, not the building up of the plot.
  2. Character development. I have to plan my characters. Although some of their flaws don’t come out until midway of the story. But most of my character development is done beforehand. I need to get to know them so that I can correctly write their stories.
  3. Know your ending. And yes, sometimes the ending sneaks up on you out of the blue and everything changes. That’s writing. BUT, when you get started, have an idea of where your story is headed. When stories come into my head, I most of the time, see the beginning and the ending first. Sometimes it’s the ending that pulls the story into my heart. If the characters are to be wed at the end, then you need to make the rest of the story head in that direction.

So, as I’ve said before and I’ll say it again, this may not work for everyone, but it does for me. I’ve already got the bones of the five books of the series I’m doing in 2021. Everyday my mind goes through the storylines, the character details and yes, where I want each book to end.

I hope my post helps you get past your writers block or maybe just helps you develop your story more.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…


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Here’s an outline strategy that works for me…

It’s finally Saturday and what does that mean, well, for me that means that I’ll be writing and working on the outline for my next release. Outline? You mean you don’t do outlines for your books? Well, let me enlighten you to how I outline my books to make writing them a little more streamlined.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Ok, let’s get a little into why I outline over winging it. To start building a house you have to lay out the plan, build the foundation, then the walls, and so on. Get the picture. It’s the same with writing a book, or so it is with me. I need to set up the groundwork first. That’s why I have a notebook for each series that lays out the details so I don’t have to go back and forth trying to remember if Ridge has blue eyes or if Sara is an author. But back to the outlining. Here goes:

1: Start with a blank paper. Don’t give yourself any distractions. Then get lost in the story that is unfolding in your mind. And remember, the outline doesn’t have to be perfect because you’re the only one that will see. So just write.

2: I separate my outline by chapters. But you can just do it like a book report, down the line, separating by paragraphs. It’s up to you. This is your outline, nobody elses!

3: At this point you should try to remember a couple of things. Even though you’re just putting down the bones of your work, you need to also remember that those bones have to hold up the story, so make sure that you have a start, middle, and end to each chapter or section of the book. Start your first plot, then build on it, bringing the reader to a moment of what’s going to happen. Then your main character hits a roadblock, something that keeps them from solving their problem or mystery. You’ll lead your reader on an adventure where they are left wondering if the problem will get solved.

4: At this point, you’ll be at the midpoint, or close. Make sure that you’re at the top of a hill with a looming cliff that the reader feels like they’re about fall off of, then toss them a rope. Give them hope for their hero or heroine. But as a writer, you’ll want to have a cut in that rope so that the story stays interesting up until you rescue your character and have a happy ending, or lead up to the next book if it’s a series.

5: Yep, I know. How the heck do you do all of this and not go crazy? Well, for me, I have to think of it like building that house we talked about earlier. If your bones aren’t strong enough, your house or story in this case, will crumble. And the point to all of this is to make sure your story holds up in the storm and by storm, I mean readers!

Part 2 of this post will be the structure. So, stay tuned for the next post and don’t forget, even if you don’t outline, make sure it has a rise and fall or your reader will give up before they ever find out the fate of the main character.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

And since I’m all about pirates this week, don’t forget to check out Captain Tanner in Safe in the Pirate’s Arms!

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Start to Publish…

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Good Tuesday morning! I hope all is well with you. As for here in Georgia, it may be Spring, but someone forgot to tell the weather. It’s chilly again…

As for my writing, things are going well. I have several manuscripts in various stages of production. You might ask, what stages are you talking about? Well, here’s a simple guideline that I follow as I bring a manuscript full circle into publication.

1: Of course, first things first, the idea. Sometimes the idea for a book can happen months before I even start the first page of the manuscript, but when the idea comes, I put it down on paper, if not I’ll lose the excitement of that moment. I have a small notebook that holds my story ideas, some have come to be and others have incorporated themselves into other stories.

2. As you know from previous posts, I do an outline. It’s basic, but it leads me through the story, the bones, so to speak. I’ve told you before, most stories come to me in whole, or large lumps of information. The quicker I get that outlined, the quicker the story can come alive.

3. Now it’s time to schedule it into my calendar. Right now, I’m scheduled through the end of the year with stories flowing over into 2017. This way I know in the back of my head what I need to finish on this manuscript in the future, like blurbs, covers and such.

4. Once it’s time to start the manuscript, I sit down with my outline and notes from thoughts I’ve had along the line. Even as I work on other books, things pop up in my mind that would work with other works. That’s when I pull out the outline from my portfolio and jot down the thought for future reference. That way I don’t lose the moment.

5. It’s time to write. This is when I get in the structure and bones of the story, fleshing out the outline points and filling in the characters as I go. This is also when Scrivener is my best friend. All of the characters are lined up down the left of my screen, reminding me of names and people involved. This part of the writing is fast and unedited, very unedited. It’s the write by the seat of my pants, knowing I’ll go back later to correct.

6. Ok, so I have my rough, rough, rough draft ready, now it’s time to go back and fix the many errors, misspelled words, horrible grammar and left off punctuation that leads my editor to want to plot my murder. Now it’s ready to go to her for the red pen, this is the scary part!

7. As I wait for the edited manuscript to come back, I’ll work on covers, blurbs, advertising and setting up the pre-order for the book that’s being worked over.

8. Now the manuscript is back, needing some work and ready to be corrected. I input the changes, make additions and get it formatted. I add the front and back matter, then scan back through to make sure I’ve checked everything. Oh, and just for giggles, I go back through, doing a spellcheck. I’m human, I forget stuff.

9. Wow, it’s now ready for publication! This is the moment an author sweats profusely, hoping you haven’t left off anything major, forgotten to correct something and hope upon hope that your readers love the book you’ve poured your heart into.

This is why most people that say, ‘I could write a book and publish it, it’s too easy’, they don’t ever publish a book. A book doesn’t just appear when you have the thought, it’s a process, one that needs to be taken seriously. So many authors don’t take it seriously and when they hit send, it’s missing something or hasn’t been thought through. Take it seriously, it’s your reputation as a writer.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

P. S. Don’t forget Lily comes out the 27th. Get your preorder now…

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