In a lot of ways, I feel like I’m in the same place as a lot of my characters at the end of book 1. I’ve definitely evolved and am a bit exhausted from the adventure. However, I’m more ready than ever to face what’s ahead!
Since I didn’t document my experiences working through Crimson River, I want to summarize how it came to be. Hopefully this will help to highlight some of my failures/triumphs as a first-time author.
It was a long process this first go around–about 9 months from first words to published. Because of this, I’ll break it down with a separate post on the writing and editing phases. For now I will hold off on production and marketing. I’m only just scratching the surface on those now so will cover them more in future posts. These first two topics are what constitute making the story so though, so should be a great place to begin.
I also want to start with two really important points before we begin:
1. These are my experiences, habits, and thoughts. It is entirely possible, and in certain ways likely, that yours or those of other authors are different. If so, please respect this and understand that no approach to art of any kind is or should be universal.
2. I need to give a special thanks and a serious recommendation that any prospective authors check out The Creative Penn. Also, read any or all of Joanna Penn’s specialized books on all phases of authoring! They were a tremendous help to me, especially during my first time in the game.
So without further adieu… let’s begin with how this adventure was written!
How It Began
I first considered writing a book in the summer of 2016. Having become so engrossed in TV shows, I really got into the idea of telling a story of my own. Since I didn’t know how to write a TV show, I decided I would start with a book.
One day I sat down and brainstormed general genre and plot ideas, thinking that would be a good place to start… it wasn’t. Again, this might not be advice for each person. But everything I came up with sounded silly to me. I was trying too hard to come up with some epic tale everyone would love.
So, in utter defeat after this brief attempt, I abandoned the idea of writing a book… for about a week. When the following Monday came around it just hit me–but not a genre or a plot or a theme. Instead, it was a simple scene in my head. A scene I pictured playing out as if it were opening on HBO (minus the fuzzy credits and cool intro theme song… for now!). I saw a young girl being chased through the snowy woods by men with hounds at their side.
How It Continued
That’s it. That’s all I started with, but from there I just kept typing and naturally it kept flowing. It became so easy because I wasn’t thinking anymore of what kind of story I wanted to write. At that point my mind was simply a projector, with my fingers translating what was on the screen like a courtroom stenographer. From that humble beginning it took me about 2 full months to finish the rest of the first draft of my first book. While I did do some very general outlining of chapters and scenes for placement, I saved most of the fine-tuning for the editing phase and mostly just let the story unfold.
My most important takeaways
- Take 5 times as much action as you do planning/learning
- Don’t ever attempt to fit a mold in art
- Worry about molding your work into a masterpiece only after your vision of the story is on the page
With subsequent books, I hope to get into more detail about how what I learned from book 1 shapes my future writing habits. For this post though, I attempted to describe my past experience from the perspective I had as a first time writer.
If you have any thoughts or questions, feel free to reach out on social media as I would love to hear about your own experiences. For now, thanks for your time and I hope you enjoy Crimson River!