Zero to eBook in 30 days – Write your first book (part 2 of 6)
The second part of the series starts here to read the first go HERE.
STEP 2: LET THE IDEAS FLOW
Most people can provide a general synopsis of the romance they want to see brought to life on paper, maybe made into a movie down the road when it is a best seller. These big, huge ideas don’t always translate to a substitutive storyline with all the key elements to carry a story from beginning to the climax and still have readers attached to finding out the happily ever after.
And before you ask – YES, romances ALWAYS need a happily ever after! It does not matter if it is a series of novellas that keeps readers on edge through twelve volumes and a drawn-out set of scenarios or a short story that must capture the reader and deliver a short read that doesn’t allow them to even pause for a bathroom break. Happily, ever after is the main ingredient to the best romances, no exception! And to ensure the ending is properly setup and the reward at the end of a great story, you must scope out a feasible storyline.
How do you get the loosie goosy plot at best to a formulaic plan for the next great romance? Grab a pen, a couple of girlfriends, and a glass of wine, and spitball ideas. Seriously, if you are going to get this project completely done in 30 days, there is no time to waste. If the ideas only come from your brain and haven’t been vetted, I have bad news – somewhere around step 12 in our 15 steps to a sizzling eBook in 30 days, you might have to head back to a drawing board and blow your ambitious plan of 30 days to published author. Start on this step, and get input from friends, mentors, teachers, whoever you think will be the most productive sounding board. It can be one other trusted soul or a group effort. This person or group will probably be part of the beta reading and feedback step down the road. Including them in this phase adds additional layers of buy-in down the road to help you output the best eBook possible.
Why write it down on a napkin and not a computer with endless space to type all the ideas you are thinking? Because the best outline of a book should be able to fit on a napkin, a large sticky note, or something that size. A full sheet of the paper outline, probably too dense in the planning at this stage, and a lot more writing involved to flush out the entire story. Overthinking the book at this stage, over-planning, and in general just allowing all the input to overwhelm will derail this ambitious plan. So, take that napkin, and spitball out some general flow for the story until everyone is giving you that – “I would read that” glow and finish your drinks by swapping boyfriend and husband stories, or at the very least the best romance story you just finished.
Let this grand scheme germinate in your brain for the next few hours, and when you get up tomorrow, take two aspirin if you partied too much and grab a notebook, journal, post-it notes and be sure you have it your handbag or backpack as you carry on with your life. This critical tool of your trade will become self-evident as the saving grace to this plot to take over the publishing world in future steps. If you are on task here, you get your first check mark on the task list of eBook publishing fame – and off we go!
STEP 3: ROLL CALL
Now that we have a general idea of the story, you probably have the main heroine that will meet the dashing prince – no wait, be the CEO of a massive international corporation who hires a lowly male assistant? Whatever the story, the cast of characters must come next and do not start writing this eBook without roll call on your character list, or you are going to regret it about 5,000 words in when you have 32 people you have introduced to the story, can’t remember their purpose and the spellings of their names is all jacked up!
A Character list is our next critical part of housekeeping to keep this romance writing train chugging along to the station of completion. We must have a clear and concise list of people written into the story and let me be clear – the list should be short and concise. You cannot develop full backstories, develop the arches for 50 people, and bring this romance to life. We need a protagonist, and in romance, that could go a lot of directions. Are you writing contemporary romance, reverse harem, harem, erotica, sweet love stories, or something out of this world (literally!)? Whoever will be given the crowing title of protagonist ensure their back story, general characteristics (hair, height, optimist, military, dwarf) whatever it is on this brief roll call of characters. And then, of course, no good romance can include one person, so flesh out the person who will woo them, fight with the protagonist, make the story pop.
And please, let’s not forget the antagonist. Every good protagonist needs a villain, jealous ex-lover, sweet competing childhood sweetheart, or someone else who will further the book’s climactic arch. This person will never win but must be well-developed enough in the story to cause turmoil with the reader for the story to keep them turning those pages (or swiping the pages on their electronic versions as technology now dictates).
Finally, supporting characters that ADD VALUE to the story. Please remember this it is critical to see interactions, dialogues and, in many places, propel our story toward the finale and that all-important happily ever after. This should be enough to vet the story fully, but not enough to confuse readers or the author when trying to keep them straight, develop the story, and bring it home without overly complex writing.
Please remember this is our first sprint to the finish line; you aren’t writing Gone with the Wind here as that took over 30 days to pen. Your story must be feasibly written in the first draft inside of two weeks to allow for our other steps, it must engage the reader pretty much from the first sentence, deliver a story that they care to find out what happens, and most importantly, get reviewed with the holy grail of five stars so this same reading bonanza will happen reader after reader.
Put thought into your characters, keep them brief, develop a clear and concise list of them and make bulleted reminders on a sheet of paper or a document on your computer for reference. This should include their proper names and ages also as a reference. I know you are thinking, what the heck can I remember how to spell a name? And I can present you with 100 editors who will tell you names are always WRONG in at least one place in a manuscript. So, minimize your errors by putting a little bit of time into this all-important roll call so you can quickly reference it once the writing has begun in earnest.
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