Back in April, I had the opportunity to participate in Coffee Time Romance and More’s Blog post question: Which comes first when you start a new story? The title? The characters’ names? The plot? Explain your starting process and what you need before you can write the first words. My response is below.
Writing one book isn’t too difficult, but a series? It takes some serious planning. My Kiss Starter series follows three different couples over the same 4-5 weeks. There are some scenes that are carried from one book to the other but obviously seen through the respective characters from each book’s POV. Yes, tough! And lots of comparing WIPs.
Before You ( my most recent work that I had used to explain my process below) is available in ebook and print format. Kissing Game, the second book in my Kiss Starter series, will be released end of July. For Kissing Game, I had already set up a potential frenemies to friends to lovers trope by including two paragraphs in Before You:
They walk backwards to my truck and wave. Asher stumbles. Zeke picks her up and carries her. The way he’s holding her with his head buried in her hair… I run the pad of my thumb across my jaw.
No way could Zeke be interested in Asher that way. If he is, he might as well count on being disowned by his family. Zeke’s family is racist to their core.
For Nora Ever After, I also started setting up Nora and Galley’s interest in one another in Kissing Game:
“What happened?” Nora asks.
Soft voice. Big, wide innocent eyes. Short-sleeve, loose shirt buttoned up to her neck. Baggy pants.
Conservative. Quiet. Nice. Not my type. Or Galley’s.
“I’m sorry for the bad language, Nora. Someone vandalized mine and the guys’ place.”
Galley’s apologizing for his filthy mouth? I glance from him to Nora and notice how Galley’s body relaxes just from looking at her looking at him. Shit, he’s damn curious about this no touching deal of hers.
For the third book in the series, Nora Ever After, the trope is more of a friends to lovers as well as first love as the heroine, Nora, navigates through her feelings for Galley, a guy with with very unconventional sexual habits (by her standards). When I introduced Nora in the beginning of Before You, I knew she’d meet her perfect match as soon as Galley walked inside Jimmy’s Bar with his friends. She doesn’t touch or like to be touched. He’s very much into touching. Their lives were shaped by what had happened with their parents’ marriages, and I’m so excited to explore how those experiences will shape their feelings for one another.
Which Comes First When I Begin a Story?
When I begin writing a story, I start with a general plot or decide on a particular trope. For example, my upcoming release, Before You, is all about the fake boyfriend-girlfriend trope. In romance, I believe tropes help ground readers as to what to expect from the story. And one story doesn’t have to be about one trope. Before You is a new adult romance that deals also with first love, new love, as well as another trope I love, a secret double life.
After having a general idea of plot and tropes, I put together my ensemble of characters starting with the main characters’ names. Names are important. I’ll be spending weeks writing their story. Readers will spend hours or days reading about them. There’s advice out there about staying away from similar names or names starting with the same letter, but once I have a name and an image in my mind of what that character looks like and acts like, I don’t change their names. For example, in Before You, there’s Nora, Nick, and Noah. There’s also Ryan, Ruby, and Remy. Not changing their names. Uh-uh.
Once the names are decided, I write the book blurb. The book blurb keeps me on track. Helps me stick with the story arc. Is the story about working together to solve a crime while trying hard not to fall in love? Are they different people brought together under a stressful situation and now they’re finding they’re more alike than different? And by the way, he finds her to be sexy as hell and she thinks he’s over the moon hot. The book blurb gives me direction. I also write a short tag line. Tag line helps package a story into one or two lines. My tag line for Before You is: A young college woman questions her future plans when she unexpectedly falls for her fake boyfriend.
After the book blurb and tag line, and while I’m writing the story, I begin my search for a book cover. I love premade book covers and have a handful of cover designers as my go-to designers. I also go on sites such as Deposit Photo and Pinterest to search for and save images of what my characters look like in my mind. The image helps me stay in character on the pages, especially when writing from a male POV.
And that is my writing process in a nutshell.