Yesterday saw the launch of Stephanie Keyes’ debut fantasy novel, The Star Child and Stephanie is here today to give us an insight into how she works.
The Tools Behind The Star Child
Hello to all of you! Sue, just let me say that I am thrilled to be a guest on your blog today. Thank you so much for having me!
When I was writing The Star Child, I used a few tools that worked for me. I wanted to take the opportunity to talk about them a little bit today. Admittedly, there are other approaches out there that might be more efficient, but these worked for me the first time around and I wanted to share them. I am also including feedback on whether or not I’d keep that approach for my next book. Here is my top five:
- Brainstorming session. So what does that mean? Well, we all have different styles and approaches that we like to use. For me, it was very important to start getting my initial ideas on paper or verbalizing them to my husband immediately. Once I got the concept formed in my mind, then I was constantly able to consider different angles within the storyline, even when I wasn’t writing. I would repeatedly arrange for these little pow-wows, so I could bounce ideas off of others. Keep it or pitch it? Talking through my ideas is a big part of who I am, so I would definitely keep this approach. There were also several ideas that wouldn’t have worked if I’d chosen them.
- Index cards, index cards, index cards. I read an article once that recommended this. I took index cards and wrote down what would later become the chapters, on individual cards. I also included a basic premise around what was supposed to happen in each chapter. Keep it or pitch it? Pitch it. I tend to lose pieces of paper and I once lost the index cards for about two months. I’ll probably go with a software-based approach next time, like a Mind Mapping tool.
- Use a quality writing software. The Star Child was written entirely in Microsoft Word, which was frustrating most of the time. The challenge that I experienced was that I would forget where I’d left off. Plus, I was running a Linux operating system on my laptop and using Word through a Virtual Machine and it started to crash after the file got over a hundred pages or so. Later, I invested in Scrivener, so it was much easier for me to work in than Word. Keep it or pitch it? I will definitely work with Scrivener again. However, I’d take the time to do some training on it first. With The Star Child manuscript it messed up all of my indents and I had to redo them. Horrors!
- Text To Speech Software. A friend of mine recommended this and I loved it. There are tools built into Windows and Mac OS that allow you to have your manuscript read to you aloud. In Mac you can create an M4P of the reading and put it on your MP3 player, iPhone, etc., via iTunes. I created the M4P and then edited in free software called WAVPAD to break each chapter into individual M4Ps. Then I loaded them onto my iPhone and listened to them while I read the manuscript at the same time. Keep it or pitch it? Keep it! This helped me identify so many errors in the manuscript before it went to editor, Kit Domino. In the end it was a major time saver. Just listen to it when you are very awake – the voices are a little robotic.
- Invest in a good laptop or personal computer. The Star Child was written on a Sony Vaio with a keyboard and touch pad that were not highly conducive to writing of any kind. So I saved up and bought a Macbook. Now being a bit of a gadget freak, I’ll admit to going a little overboard pricewise here. Macs are extremely well made, but expensive. You don’t necessarily need to spend a fortune to get a great computer. Regardless of what you choose, make sure and test out the keyboard first. The keys should be easy to reach and have a light touch, meaning you don’t need to work to press the buttons. Keep it or pitch it? I will definitely stay with my Mac for my next book – I just love it.
So those were just a few of the tools that I found most valuable when writing The Star Child.
What tools do you use when writing? Tell us about them using the Comments section below. If Stephanie picks your comment, you could win an Amazon gift card! Only comments posted on December 16th are eligible.
Amazon Kindle US http://www.amazon.com/dp/B006GADZ1Y
Barnes and Noble
When Stephanie isn’t writing, she works full time as a Corporate Educator and Curriculum Designer. She holds a M.Ed. from Duquesne University and an undergraduate degree in Management information Systems from Robert Morris University. Stephanie is a clarinetist, saxophonist, and vocalist, and is always making music somewhere at sometime. She credits her loving husband of ten years and her two sons for the completion and publication of the Star Child.
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