GtPGKogPYT4p61R1biicqBXsUzo" /> Google+ Ink Well--One writer’s process explained for the reader with Donnette Smith + giveaway | I Smell Sheep

Sunday, December 3, 2023

Ink Well--One writer’s process explained for the reader with Donnette Smith + giveaway

Ink Well--One writer’s process explained for the reader with Donnette Smith

So…the beginning of a new manuscript for me starts in a separate word document apart from the document I will be writing the manuscript in. The title of that document is called The Outline.

What is an outline and how do you go about writing one? Ask any author who uses one, and you’ll get a different answer every time. The process of my outline is as simple as I can make it. That’s because I’d rather save brain explosions for the manuscript. And there will be brain explosions. Clean up on aisle seven kind of brain explosions. But first things first.

The Outline
This nifty, little roadmap is a quick scene-by-scene summary of the guts of the manuscript. It goes something like this.

Scene One
Undercover DEA agent, George (this may or may not be his name. I’ll explain later) runs into ex-police officer, Sarah (who may or may not be Sarah) during an undercover sting operation to take down an infamous drug cartel. She is a flash from his past because they were madly in love once, but the affair ended in tragedy thirteen years ago when she called off the marriage to his brother on the day of the wedding. When she came clean with his brother and admitted she was in love with someone else, everything fell apart. His brother hung himself from the rafters of the church, and when George’s father discovered Sarah called off the wedding because she was in love with his other son, George, he vowed never to speak to his son again. And Sarah was forced to quit the police department because of the ridicule and backlash she received from her former officers. She ran as far away from George and that town as she could get. This is the first time George has seen her since the day she ran out on him thirteen years ago.

Now, he wonders what the hell she’s doing involved with a drug cartel. Even worse, how could she be romantically involved with the kingpin himself? But the pressure is on him to act like he doesn’t know her, or risk blowing his cover.

Knowing they are at the kingpin’s palace for a grand party, George keeps his cool, even though watching the kingpin paw all over Sarah evokes the kind of jealousy in him that could cause him to become careless and make sloppy mistakes. She was his one true love, and he’d never gotten over losing her.

However, when the kingpin gets down on one knee and proposes to Sarah in front of everyone, it’s the final straw for George. He excuses himself to use the bathroom, and stumbles onto the terrace to collect his muddled thoughts and calm his pounding heart. Just as he convinces himself Sarah is not the same person he knew, and he’s on the cusp of letting his feelings for her hinder the sting operation, she finds him on the terrace, and by the appearance of her, she remembers those hot summer nights they’d spent together just as clearly as he does.

He demands to know how she’d gone from being a respected police officer, to a drug lord’s lover. She refuses to answer, but instead makes it clear she knows he’s working undercover for the DEA. She warns he’s playing a dangerous game, and if the kingpin discovers who he is, he’ll not only kill him, but torture him in ways he could never imagine.

He is stunned she knows about the undercover operation. And when a tense argument causes her to get a little too close, he can’t resist drawing her into his arms and taking her lips in a heated kiss. He’s surprised when she doesn’t wrestle out of his embrace. But when the intimate moment passes, she chastises him for such reckless behavior and insists that he go back to his superior at the DEA and inform him that double crossing the drug lord will get them all killed.

The first scene in the outline is not like the others.
I always add a little backstory to the first scene of the outline. Of course, that much backstory doesn’t make its way into the first chapter. I will sprinkle the characters’ history throughout the story as I should. But slipping a little bit of their past into the first scene of the outline is a good reminder. it’s there in a quick glance if ever I must go back for reference.

So, what’s up with the temporary names?
By the time I finish with the outline, which usually takes me two to three weeks, I know how many characters will be in the story and can decide on official names for everyone, including the wicked kingpin, Sarah, and George. Because let’s face it, George is not the sexiest of names for a leading man. I apologize in advance to all the people out there by the name of George.

It’s manuscript time, baby!
Rarely do I have the title of the story in mind when I start writing the manuscript. The title will come to me…maybe…at some point. Sticky note to self…come up with a name for the story because you don’t want to revisit that time you got desperate and ran a contest on your Facebook page for the person who could come up with the best title within a twenty-four-hour period. Wait, that worked out okay.

No matter what they tell you, editing sucks.
Now that I’ve finished the first draft, I’m going back to the beginning to rewrite, rewrite, and rewrite some more. Or perhaps, there’s a needle lying around somewhere I can stick in my eye, because that would be less painful than writing this manuscript on repeat. Ever hear writers complain they can’t submit their story because it’s not good enough? Here’s the dirty little secret they don’t tell you. If you stare at your words long enough, you will develop an aversion to them so acutely you’d rather pluck out your nose hairs than allow your brain to absorb them for another second.

I say, save your brain and your nose hairs and let’s multitask. That’s why, as soon as I finish writing a scene, I go over it at that time and edit. Once I finish a chapter, I edit all the scenes in that chapter again before I type another word. Then I move onto the next scene and the next chapter. You get the point. I’ve found if I edit as I go, I can use my time more wisely. Plus, I won’t end up hiding in the basement where people with mush brain go. And my kids won’t have to coax me out with a king size Hershey bar.

At last, the manuscript is finished. What’s next?
Did I say editing sucks? Well, hold on to your pants because we’re about to take it to a whole new level. May I introduce you to what I call the mother of all edits? I’m referring to the five-hundred-page editing guide my publisher provided for me. Okay, so it’s more like thirty pages. But at this point, who’s counting?

I must check the manuscript for weak verbs such as
· Move
· Bring
· Brought
· Look
· Push
· Pull
· Press
· Walk
· Reach
· Went
· Came (as in came and went)
· Turned

Then find a stronger, more visual verb so the reader can better picture the action.

There are, of course, redundant words we need to remove while in the POV of our character. And we are always in the POV of our character. My sticky note even says so.
· Saw
· Watched
· Heard
· Thought
· Felt
· Knew
· Moved
· Reached

Here’s an example of passive POV
She heard Steve slam the door and felt a tremor of uneasiness run through her.

Here’s an example of active POV
Steve slammed the door, and a tremor of uneasiness ran through her.

We can do away with the words, heard and felt, because we are in the character’s POV and to say she heard and felt something is unnecessary. We are already experiencing the scene through her senses.

Now that we’ve run a search for all those words and made the corrections, we get to search for a thousand other writing dos and don’ts. Check for misused words, grammar & punctuation, cause & effect sentences, comma placement, dialogue tags, flashbacks, head-hopping, and so on and so forth. And here all you wanted to do was write a book, not map out astrophysics. Buy hey, who’s keeping score.

Once I’ve given the manuscript a final read-through, then and only then can I email it to my editor. I hit the send button and drink a large glass or bottle of wine…for the next two weeks straight. This is not a celebration. This is preparation for the torture my editor has in store for me when she tears apart my manuscript and sends it back to me in bits and pieces. If I remain in a drunken stupor, I find the whole process much more tolerable.

And that, my friend, is how I write a book. More or less. 

The Taken
by Donnette Smith
November 6th 2023
Published by: The Wild Rose Press
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal, Romanc
All Jenna Langley wanted was a chance to finally marry the man of her dreams. But when the spirit of a dead girl shows up at her wedding that only she can see, it becomes clear Jenna’s latest brush with death has caused the heightening of her psychic abilities to reach an unfamiliar and frightening level. Her new husband, Detective Cole Rainwater, vows to do whatever it takes to get to the root of Jenna’s disturbing sightings. But before he can investigate this mystery, his bride is taken right under his nose.

What started as a romantic honeymoon has turned into a fight for Jenna’s life. And the only path to freedom is through the help and guidance of a dead girl who was once the victim of the sex traffickers that have stolen away with Jenna.

About the Author:
Although not a native Texan, Donnette Smith has spent more than half her life living in the Lone Star State. She is an entrepreneur and former business owner of Tailor Maid Services LLC. After spending a few years working as a journalist for the Blue Ridge Tribune, she realized her love for writing romantic detective novels. Her stories cover a wide range of genres, from horror, time travel, mystery, fantasy, paranormal, and thriller. But one theme stays the same, there is always a detective solving a crime, and a gorgeous victim he would lay down his life to protect. Donnette’s biggest fascination is with forensic science and crime scene investigations. Her novels include, Cunja, a horror/mystery/suspense that debuted in 2012. Book 1 of The Spirit Walker Series, Killing Dreams, a fantasy/romance story with a paranormal element became available in September of 2021. Book 2 of The Spirit Walker Series, Buried Alive, was published on March 14, 2022. And her latest, book 3 of The Spirit Walkers Series, The Taken.

Tour-wide giveaway (US only)
a golden book box with books 1&2 of the Spirit Walkers Series. Book 1 Killing Dreams, and book 2 Buried Alive. One book will be autographed. The book box will come with a specially designed bookmarker, a Spirit Walkers Series coffee mug, Chai tea, and a scented, therapeutic candle.

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