In the beginning is a word. The word becomes a sentence, and the sentence becomes a paragraph leading to the opening scene. But even before the first word there has to be a germ of an idea which then develops into a plot, and that’s how a book starts evolving.
Once I have the plot idea, I start to develop the characters. My first character for the new book has to be the murderer. He/she can be a new character to my series or a returning minor character, who becomes a murderer. It’s very important for me to develop this person. I need to know what is so important to this character that they’d murder to protect it. I don’t write psychopathic murderers so my murderer is not totally evil. In fact, there is much I like about them and have more sympathy for this character than I do for the victim. As I include them more into the story, I actually feel a little sorry for them and I wish they’d change their mind. Most of my victims are not very nice, and those that are, I don’t develop enough rapport to feel saddened when they die.
My next step is to create new characters and to give more depth and attention to one or more of the returning characters. In this way I bring in more suspects for the murder or murders that will happen. This is a fun part. I love creating characters. Unfortunately, I hate letting characters go, so sometimes I let them rest for one book and then maybe have them return in another book. Some will never return and some will never be more than a very minor character; sort of like a part of the scenery of Portage Falls.
Because my books not only have a gardening theme, they also follow a chronological order of months. The Blue Rose took place in June. Daylilies for Emily’s Garden in July and Ladies of the Garden Club takes place in August. My fourth book that I’m working on now, The Body in the Goldenrod, will be taking place in September. In this book there will be a Civil War Re-enactment going on at Elmwood Gardens. Our local newspaper has been featuring columns twice a week for over a year now by local historians and/or Civil War reenactors. I’ve been saving these columns to get a feel for that period in northeast Ohio where I live and my fictional books take place. I’m lucky because Carole Babyak, a member of my local writers group not only writes books about the Civil War Era based on people from our area, but also has a husband, who is a Civil War reenactor. She belongs to a group of Civil War enthusiasts, and dresses the part of a woman of the time at Civil War events. She will be my go to person to make sure what I write is accurate and believable. I’ve already been asking her questions.
I’ve finished chapter twelve now, and I’ve not reached a place yet where I don’t know where I’m going with it. I’m much more a pantser than a plotter and somehow when I end one chapter, an idea for the next chapter comes up. If only there weren’t constant interruptions in my life, I think the book would be done by now. Meanwhile I already have a germ of an idea for October’s book as well as a title - Murder in the Corn Maze.
What steps do you take in writing a book?