The first ideas drafted for my middle-grade novel were done via pencil and lined tablet. Once I settled in front of my computer, I entered a delusional state where I believed the document on my screen would be the only one I’d need to worry about for the rest of this story’s creation.
In my college creative writing classes, my professors spoke of creating character profiles along with other notable, vital story timelines and elements. I thought it a tedious exercise. I wanted to write my story, not waste my time with all of that background crap! Never in my wildest dreams did I realize the extent of research and documentation I’d need to undertake when I embarked upon this literary journey. My readers will never know about the stacks of manila folders piling up on my desk (and drafts piling up under it), but hopefully my dedication and diligence will come through in the form of a historically accurate, believable, entertaining story.
I drew maps and floor plans. I completed separate plot clocks for individual characters (human and other) so that I can see their journey through my story. I have lists of details such as when thumb tacks were invented, when a particular story (it’s a clue) was published, and the Native American translation for the word “moose.” I researched genealogy records, historical portraits, mining history, and holiday recipes from the early 1900’s, jotting down the important bits and pieces that I need in order to ensure my story’s historical accuracy.
I created outlines – one called “Clue Listing” and a separate, expanded version that is morphing in to mini-scenes. These documents tell the entire story in a snippet, even though the actual, “real” story (living in my computer) isn’t there yet. I’m juggling all of these lists, outlines, and drawings – some here, some there, all living in a parallel universe to my computer screen story. At some point, they will merge. They will end their mutual existence, join up with the computer version, and flow together in what I can predict is a happy ending.
Image credit: Anne K. Hawkinson