How do you write your novels?

Scott Oden, fantastic Historical Fiction writer, has posted on his blog his process of writing a scene. Go over there and read, it's fascinating!

Replying, I started exposing mine, and thought it was worth an entry of their own, even when I have already written about this, let's go into a little bit more detail!

My writing process, once a story bites me and doesn't let me go, is the following:

First I read, everything I can, about the event, the surroundings, the starrings, the political, military, economical, health, cultural, etc situations, and try to find a place to match everything with everything. These are usually frantic times, of book shopping, book hunting, and Internet searches.

Then I find a time slot to get my hands dirty... :-)

Then I start planning the whole thing. I follow, though, a different process from Scott's, I think: I have IONs (Items Of Narration) which are kind of scenes/chapters (actually they are linear narrations that can't be fractioned and keep their wholeness, so I can't mess around with their narrative ordering without creating weird temporal rifts and whatnots, which may be on purpose, anyway... :-)

IONs sometimes are a couple of scenes, and sometimes whole chapters, it depends on the specifics (and my chapters were very short a while ago... Currently they are a bit longer, which is somewhat worrisome, but we'll see...). They are all born from the basic novel layout, which is the way the 'director' in me wants the reader to get the story: each item gets a heading, and goes into the 'TOC' with a letter.

Once I have the TOC set to my liking, I get the rough layout of the novel:

The Libyan had identified some 22 IONs in 3 parts, plus opening and closing chapters: Prelude: S, Part I: A-B-C-D-E-F-G, Part II: H-I-J-K-L-LL-M, Part III: N-Ñ-O-P-Q-R, Epiloge: T;

By this time, I know, roughly, what I have to show/tell in the book and I have the dependencies between the different IONs solved---e.g. ION C cannot be understood without reading ION H first, because C happens first in time, but it's actually a flashback from H and needs its info to avoid repetition.

As an example, here's Damned Linneage: Prelude: U, Part I: W-A-F-B-G-C, Part II: H-D-I-E-K, Part III: L-M-N-Ñ-O, Part IIII: P-Q-R-S-T; Epilogue: V; yes, the flashbacks end with the Part II, which is a crisis point, anyway... :-)

Then, it all boils down to get the ION, read the 1 or 2 lines description, recall what's all about, and what has gone before, and pre-create the whole thing in my mind. While doing the TOC I already decided on POV and narrator (for example, in D.L. there's a 1st person POV in IONs A-F and then an omniscient 3rd person narrator. In Inaros I have three voices, one for the Greeks (Argyros), one for the Libyans (Amyrteos), and one for the Persians (Megabyzos), but development has shown a second Persian voice (Bagâbigna), and I may change the whole voiving thing once I start rewriting/editing the draft; in Alaric there was a 1st person narrator, presbyter L. Domitius Ahenobarbus, and an omniscient 3rd person narrator, with two, so far, additional voices: Alarīks's and Pa. Cornelius Ruber Thiudarīks's).

So, I get the ION, the story in my head, the actors ready, makeup, dressed, and characterized correctly (even if they need post-production FX or C.G.I. partners), the set already up, the attrezzo in place, the orchestra in place, partitures and violins at the ready; silence! camera! action!

And then I complain about this! I am, definitely, a whiner: there are not many things comparable to get all your being involved and transcribed into words; comics are one I've also enjoyed creating, the 9th art, but it takes a lot of time and effort as well, so I cannot afford more for the time being. The other activities I have felt this are quasi-mystical in nature, and hard to describe in words (ocarina-making and Aikidō, among them)

Whichever, though, there's magic around, and if you can feel it, and transmit it to your readers, so they can share your world---their world!---with you, and together live a new experience, one that'll transform all of you into better persons, and happier, the more the better! :-)

And that's all... Tooth pain, and a travel in the sights, a great long weekend in my homeland, Galicia (good, old, poor, Gallæcia). I'll try to take pictures!


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