Monday, May 5, 2014

My Weird Startup Process

I'm starting to plan my next book (book 4 in the series, tentatively titled Hot Lap), and I have to admit my process looks a lot like complete inaction.

Mostly I'm thinking of a new idea, jotting some notes, and then living with it a couple days to see if it holds together. Then I'm adding another idea to the mix and repeating the process.

Think of it this way: I'm making a quilt. I don't have a pattern, and I'm not sure what material I'm using. All I I know is I want it to fade from light to dark to light again across the entire piece.

That's it. So I'm starting to figure out some of the details.

Partly I let the universe talk to me. I have a conversation with someone who asks a question about a character ... and I think, "I should use that character again." Someone else asks about a method of death in a previous book ... and I think, "I should have someone do the opposite next time."

And so forth. I build my pile of notes, discussing ideas with myself (every page is titled "ideas," as if I'll feel committed something later?) and thinking through implications of different decisions.

An example. When do I set the next book? Book 3 (Avoidable Contact) is set in January 2014, the first year of the new, combined sportscar series (I don't mention the date, but if you know the racing, you know that's when it is).

The next book will be set at the Long Beach race, which is in April. I can set it in the same year, three months later, or I can set it a year and three months out. Both have advantages to do with how relationships (family, romantic, business, and sponsor) might have developed. A year later means I worry I might be aging Kate too fast in the series. But staying in the same year means many people could be reading a book about "the new combined series" at the start of the series' third season.

Yeah, I think I'm going with a year and three months later.

So that's how the process goes. Thought by thought. Note by note. It might not look like I'm doing much, but I promise, I'm thinking!

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