Do you have a set routine to get you going on that first draft? How do you handle a twist in the road? What’s your process? Read on to learn how Gilian Baker, author of A Time to Kiln, creates a process for her writing.
by Gilian Baker
They were a different species, seemingly unrelated to us, those creative writers who trolled the English building hallways. We literature and rhetoric majors steered clear of them for the most part, whether out of fear or awe, I’m not sure.
I know for myself, they were mystical beings I couldn’t fathom. They seemed to live in their own worlds, created from their very imagination. I feared what I didn’t understand. I wasn’t scared of them, but was afraid I didn’t have their brand of magic in me. I had never been brave enough to register for a creative writing course. It was safer to stay in the land of reading and analyzing the tomes they produced.
After earning the letters after my name, I still found them captivating as I worked among them.
Now, several years after leaving the world of academia behind altogether, I now understand that I did have the enchantment within me all along. I just didn’t know it at the time.
A couple of years ago on the suggestion of my daughter, I joined Nanowrimo for the first time. I needed a creative outlet in the worst way, and I allowed what I’d done for a living for years to become that. I didn’t worry that I didn’t knowing how to structure a cozy mystery plot or how to flesh out a cozy protagonist that fans would love. I just wrote.
When I decided to take a chance and publish my first book, that’s when I began studying how to write fiction. The biggest surprise of the whole process was that it wasn’t unfamiliar to me at all—it was the same writing process I’d used for writing academic works.
No, there is no thesis, as such, in fiction. However, the steps in my fiction writing process are strikingly similar:
- I come up with an idea that I think might just work (asking a lot of “what if’s.”)
- I research to verify the idea is indeed plausible (in this case, the idea is murder, not analysis.)
- I write a zero draft, just letting the words pour out of me. (Yes, I’m a pantser.)
- When I come up against a concept or plot twist I’m unsure about, I journal until I decide on the direction that feels right or that I can make work.
- I research again to verify the plausibility of the direction I now plan to go.
- I completed steps 3-5 over and over until I get to the end of the story.
- When I have a sudden burst of inspiration, I stop in my tracks and write it down in my always-present notebook.
- I go back into the text and fix “holes” in my plot (what used to be my argument.)
- Once the content editing is done, I spiff up the text, smoothing out dialogue and deleting superfluous content.
Halfway through the process for my first book, Blogging is Murder, it occurred to me that there isn’t any charmed writing process for fiction. It’s the same one I’d used for years. What a revelation! Really, it was. And it made me feel more secure in my ability to write something other cozy mystery fans would want to read.
Of course, we all have our own writing process, and I’ve encouraged students for years to find theirs and then use it faithfully. But I would have never guessed that I’d need to remind myself of that.
Now that my second book, A Time to Kiln, is available to readers, I’ve started working on the third book in the Jade Blackwell Mysteries series. And I’m using the same “magical formula” I’ve had at my disposal all along.
Read the first chapter for free and learn about new releases and discounts, plus get exclusive content by signing up for Gilian’s email list here: http://gilianbaker.com/blogging-murder-first-chapter/
A Time to Kiln: A Jade Blackwell Cozy Mystery (Book 2)
Disenchanted with life after solving her first real case, Jade Blackwell, successful blogger and amateur sleuth, throws herself into a new hobby…until murder rears its ugly head.
But when Jade attempts to ferret out the killer of local pottery teacher, Paula Hexby, she comes up short and suspicion begins to descend on her daughter’s former boyfriend. Evidence and bodies are stacking up, as Jade finds herself caught between an untrustworthy client and her beloved community.
Now at a personal and professional crossroads, Jade must once again jump into the breech, along with partner Gabrielle Langdon, to uncover the truth behind this string of horrific murders. Is she really cut out for this life of sleuthing and danger? Has Jade been defending the real murderer all along? Or is there something much more sinister afoot?
Gilian Baker is a former English professor who threw in the towel and decided to show ‘em how it’s done. She’s gone on to forge a life outside of academia by adding blogger, ghostwriter and cozy mystery author to her C.V. She currently uses her geeky superpowers only for good to entertain murder mystery readers the world over. When she’s not plotting murder for her Jade Blackwell cozy mystery series, you can find her puttering in her vegetable garden, knitting in front of the fire, snuggling with her husband watching British TV or discussing literary theory with her daughter.
Gilian lives in Flagstaff, Arizona with her family and their three pampered felines. In her next life, she fervently hopes to come back as a cat, though she understands that would be going down the karmic ladder. She’s the author of Blogging is Murder and A Time to Kiln.
Thanks, Gilian, for stopping by! Come back anytime and share info about your latest release! Readers, leave a comment below for Gilian, and let her know your most magical tip about writing.