Here's what he had to say...
My personal approach to writing a book has changed drastically with every new project. When I wrote my first novel, I flew by the seat of my pants, letting my imagination take me in whatever direction the story led me. While I had a lot of fun using this approach (and the novel will always be dear to me) the end product was less focused than it could have been. So I did some research, joined a writer’s group, and eventually adopted the outline method. While some detract from this method, citing that once you’ve completed the outline, your creativity suffers in the first draft, for me the opposite is the reality. Once I’m free from the bounds of figuring out what happens next, I can focus all my attention on characterization, character traits and quirks, conflicts, dialogue and world building.
I actually go a little farther into the process and spend a few weeks working on the building blocks of the story before I begin the outline. Once inspiration strikes, and I’ve mulled over several plot and character threads in my mind for a few days (or months or years), I attempt to galvanize my thoughts in writing, and create several text documents before I begin the outline
The first document is called Title-Tagline. In this document I write down my working title and any tagline I’ve come up with: Forbidden The Stars – The Race for Interstellar Space is On! This is a very quick document to create, and gives me both an immediate sense of accomplishment, and a focus to my goals.
The second document is the Logline-Blurb. This is usually a 25 to 150 word summary of the story, which includes reference to the main protagonist, his or her major flaw, the antagonist, the nature of the major conflict, an allusion to the major battle, and a small teaser line. This usually ends up becoming the product description, or blurb, found on the back of the cover. This summary changes several (dozen) times throughout the outlining process.
The third document is a Synopsis, which can be anywhere from one to five pages. I write this as if it’s a short story without dialog, outlining the major characters, the major and minor plotlines, the themes and resolution of the story. This particular document can take me anywhere from one day to one week to write, depending on the complexity of the plot.
Before I get to the outline, I create the fourth document called Characters. This is the document where I have the most fun, and I can usually write this one quickly because I love delving into characters (and most of all, their flaws). For each major character, I will make a separate page where I will record their name, who they are, their major flaws and character traits, their motivation in life outside the story, their goals within the story, their primary conflict, their epiphany or change in the story, and a short (one paragraph) summary of their story line.
The fifth document is where the major plot is refined. It is the Outline itself. This is a living document which can change dozens of times throughout its creation and during the first draft, where characters can take a life of their own and go in unanticipated directions. I will start off with the major plot points, in point form. Once I’ve reached the end of the story, I will go back and flesh out those plot points, juggle timelines, make alterations and even include snippets of dialog or scenes I want to incorporate. The outline, for me, can be anywhere from five to twenty pages long. For Forbidden The Stars, the outline was eighteen pages long. It can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to write this outline.
Once this outline is to my satisfaction, I open my final document, and call it: Novel. And this is the point where, to me, the magic happens …
A Note from the Book Boost: These are great tips on plotting, organizing, and building your story from the page up! Thanks for sharing. Please tell us more about your latest book.
At the end of the 21st century, a catastrophic accident in the asteroid belt has left two surveyors dead. There is no trace of their young son, Alex Manez, or of the asteroid itself.
On the outer edge of the solar system, the first manned mission to Pluto, led by the youngest female astronaut in NASA history, has led to an historic discovery: there is a marker left there by an alien race for humankind to find. We are not alone!
While studying the alien marker, it begins to react and, four hours later, the missing asteroid appears in a Plutonian orbit, along with young Alex Manez, who has developed some alarming side-effects from his exposure to the kinetic element they call Kinemet.
From the depths of a criminal empire based on Luna, an expatriate seizes the opportunity to wrest control of outer space, and takes swift action.
The secret to faster-than-light speed is up for grabs, and the race for interstellar space is on!
Dark, cold, silent, inhospitable.
Captain Justine Turner stood on the edge of the solar system. As captain of the Orcus 1, the historic honor fell to her.
It was another in a series of firsts for her; youngest female astronaut in NASA history; youngest person to get a captaincy of a space vessel; first human to set foot on the icy surface of Pluto.
She tried to think of something notable to say for the benefit of those on Earth who tracked their progress. Overcome with the tide of emotion, Justine could not think properly. The stale recycled air in her suit did not help clear her mind.
"Pluto," she finally declared into her microphone. Swiveling her head to face the sun, a tiny glowing pinprick in the low horizon, she imagined she was speaking for the benefit of posterity.
"It's been a two-hundred year journey to get here, since the dark planet's existence was first theorized. Now, that dream is a reality. This occasion is a milestone in human history. From here, all that's left is to conquer the stars."
As she came over a rise, she shut her mouth tight with a clack that echoed insider her helmet. Below her, the science team and Helen gathered like acolytes around a divine statue.
Her eyes beheld a sight beyond anything she had ever imagined possible.
In a place where no human had ever before set foot, against the cold darkness of Pluto's skyline, there was a monument the size of an aircraft hangar. The bulk of the structure resembled the nucleus of a complex atom.
Orbiting that nucleus, a number of spherical objects formed what looked like an electron cloud, hovering in the space around the monument without any visible tethers or supports.
An alien chill walked icy fingers up Justine's spine.
Humankind was not alone in the universe…
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