Hello friends! Checking in with updates on all the things 🙂
An author that I follow online shared a post the other day and asked a simple question – “Do you keep lists?“
Do I? I answered to the effect of “My lists have lists”, which made me giggle a bit, but in reality, it’s so true. I’ve always been a writer, but I’ve also been lucky to recognize that I learn best through writing. I’m a very visual learner as well, but sitting down, listening, reading, and writing things out in lists and detailed outlines really helps me absorb and retain information. I’m an unorganized person, who works their best to be organized, and that’s what I’ve been working on lately – our new life here, our new home, new schedule, new calendar, and . . .
MY NEW WRITING SPACE ❤
Having this designated physical space has allowed me to feel “settled” in so many ways. It’s allowed me to sort my research books into categories, which has helped immensely with the various parts of THE KING’S SWORD’s sequel and the other manuscripts that I’m working on. I’ve set up some happy things for character, setting, and visual inspiration, such as paintings, pictures, and prayer books reminiscent of Avelina’s. My goal was to create a quiet and comfortable area for writing, which the kids are also using for piano play, their own writing, and for homework.
Sometimes the right space can make all the difference, right?
For some writers, for sure; for me, absolutely.
I have some writing friends who can write anywhere, from a crowded coffeehouse to throwing open a notebook at their child’s sports practice or while listening to music to get into the zone, which I think is brilliant. I’ve done that too – you never know when a plot point or a snippet of dialogue will flash through your mind, and those are the moments where I swiftly type out an email to myself on my phone – however, I know that I work best in a quiet space, preferably near an open window, with space (of course) for my furry writing supervisors.
Since that’s been set, I’ve dove into sorting all of the work, drafts, notes, research, translations, pictures, ideas, and lists on my computer, in my notebooks, and on my phone into what I’m calling my “HARDCORE PLOTTING OUTLINE”. Once I started sorting the outline, I also decided to make up a “QUICK REFERENCE GUIDE” on a large white board. I’ve maintained a large vision board on Pinterest for awhile, with character folders and other resources, but this board (complete with cat drawings and notes from the Squirrels) is giving me a chance to orient myself at a glance with where I’m at, what I’m working on, and what still needs to be completed.
I’ve felt behind with my stories and progress, with prepping for and completing an international move, but this process has really helped me see everything clearly. The sequel is still in draft form, needing some reworking, rewriting, and editing before it’s sent to my editor, but I’m so pleased to see that it is further than I thought it was.
I’m not a linear writer, writing scene after scene from the opening page until the last. I write whatever scene is clear to me at that time. Some run like movies in my mind – I can see my characters. Their movements. What they’re wearing. What they’re doing. Where they are. What they’re hearing. What they’re saying. Sometimes I’ll only hear their voices – one at a time, or two or more in conversation, and I’ll write those lines until the rest becomes clear to me later.
I also tend to edit and continue my research as I write. Some writers will say not to do this, but for me, it works. I keep research outlines that pair up with my plotting outlines, with lists of things to look into further. Exciting note there – since we’ve been here in Germany, I’ve found another handful of resources and have been translating and reading them. Haven’t made any larger research trips just yet, but the simple act of going outside has been filling in details at this point, and the words have been growing on the page.
Some scenes are simpler, in that I can write them once and feel satisfied with minor changes. Others . . . I’ll start with a blank page and write the same chapter several times. This process takes me longer, but being able to compare them allows me to break them down and combine the best parts of each. It’s time consuming for sure, but it’s also a really interesting and therapeutic method at the same time. The versions are usually similar, if not identical with things like the dialogue used or the movement a character makes at a certain point, which reassures me that I know my characters and I know my stories.
Once separately, across desktop folders, scribbled notes, translated documents, and paragraph after paragraph, now merging and falling in line together, the sequel is well under way 🙂 There is still much to do, but I’m thrilled with it and feeling inspired. While THE KING’S SWORD has five parts, taking the reader from caves to court, through mountains and thundering tournaments, the sequel currently sits at seven.
These seven sections build upon the previous novel, weaving the lives of Metzlingen and beyond together. Several chapters within each, still told in Matthias and Avelina’s Points of View, with some familiar and a few new voices eagerly sharing their stories as well. There is a lot going on for everyone, individually and collectively, as with every family.
Something interesting that I noted when filling out the sections this morning was how populated each section is and while there are larger themes running from the first to last page, each section has ones of its own. As I began to list them, the first section’s themes and plot points started having similar sounds. I paused, questioning the instinct for alliteration, but then trusted it and decided to see where things went. Surprising myself, I was able to carry that through each section. Each list begins with a singular letter: R, S, L, C, R, T, and D. Interesting, for sure, but it also made me smile.
What’s next? Charging forward. Finishing my outlines, checking off my lists, completing the sequel and its accompanying stories, and enjoying the process. Our family is trying our best to take advantage of our time here, soaking in a place we love and the adventures and opportunities we’ve been given. It’s such a gift and one we are most thankful for. And each day, I’m spending time in Metzlingen. Writing, rewriting, and building its world. I hope to share more of it with you soon ❤