Starting a new novel...

If you have ever written a book, you know that the process takes planning. Characters don't just appear on the page fully clothed in all of their descriptive finery. Plots don't weave themselves through the fabric of the characters' lives without some guidance from the novel's creator. Even seat-of-the-pants writers (I'm one) would admit that they must have some direction in mind when they put their characters into their story. Of course, dressing our characters, not only in physical costumes, but assigning their inner qualities and characteristics takes time...and work. Plotting...well, that comes later for me. I start a story with characters.

Which is where I'm at now. Sarai should be in bookstores by March 1 or earlier. Look for a blog tour (to be announced) online during the first or second week of March. (A blog tour is where book reviewers, who are also bloggers, agree to read a book they get free from the publisher, and then post a review of it on their blog during the time of the tour.)

Rebekah (working title) is on my editor's desk awaiting a first read. So it's time to dive into the pre-planning stages for Rachel's story. This is the fun part.

As I've spoken of here in the past, I start a story with an Idea Board. I'm a visual learner, so I start with pictures. I think it would be fun to help a casting director pick the actors for work in film. I would enjoy trying to fit the right person with the part. In this case, I don't usually have more to work with than pictures I find online - unless they happen to be movie actors, and I can watch them on film.

Today I cast my characters for Jacob, Rachel, Leah, Bilhah, Zilpah, Laban, and Jacob's twelve sons. Imagine how hard it can be to find a dozen Jewish male child actors? I opted for some older and younger, since the story will span so much time. Children don't stay young forever!

I used to print each picture and use a glue stick to paste them to poster board. Now I use iPages and take a blank document and drop .jpgs onto the page. I size them and position them, then add text boxes to fill in their names. It can be a bit tedious, and I do wish there was a template with text ability already in place. Nothing in the template section quite fits the need. So I improvise. When it's done, I print a copy for my office and put the other on on my desktop to look at as I write. It is amazing how much you can imagine from a single picture!

I intended to do more today, but the Idea Board took all day. I also snuck in a little research. Tomorrow, more research and much pondering. This is the time where I ask, "Who are these people? What were they like? What did they want?" And I pray and ask God for insight. What a devious bunch they all were!

Should make for a challenging story to write.

I appreciate your prayers as I ponder and work and pray as well. Every book needs more than my skills to accomplish. They also need a measure of God's great grace.


PersonalJill Eileen Smith