The Journey to Making a Bestseller- Research (Series #2)

Hi everyone! It has been a crazy week. That’s one of the good things about being a writer with a self-imposed deadline– some weeks go out the window and that’s okay. I did discuss my fully laid-out concept to my writing group and they have all given me the seal of approval. As well as a few betas, and my mom, who is very choosy about good writing. So I feel empowered that this will indeed be a bestseller.

Yahoo.

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The working title has changed to: The Clockwork Pen

And I have combined with a friend to make an all-inclusive character worksheet. I’m not sure how to share it with you, other than, if you are interested in seeing it, reply in the comments and I will email directly to you, or try to find a way to post it.

What I am doing right now on the journey is researching. I have my synopsis. I still need to finish my note cards, though, which get more detailed about what exactly happens in each scene.

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But as my story will be character-based, I needed to create my main cast. I need to see their world. So, in my mind, I am creating Sepherra. That’s the name of my world. It is the creator’s last name. But, how did he create it? What did he create it to look like?

I had to look up Automata, and learn about clockwork and/or steam powered inventions. I made up a few of my own. I have to decide the tone of my world, and it’s dim and gritty. Steampunk light bulbs are not as bright as today’s lighting. I want to capture the shadows and mystery of a dark, foggy, cobblestone street.

I had to look up costumes. What will the people in my world wear? Should I use steampunk, or simply clockwork, or should I create a mixture that is only mine? Of course, that’s what I want, but can I do it?

In order to replicate something, you must know it inside and out. In order to do the opposite of something, you must know it inside and out. A writer must know their subject so completely, that’s going to call for many last-minute google sessions of “the texture of red hair,” “what color eyes do certain nationalities have,” “clothing for different body types,” and “how to hide a body in the city?” I mean, I heard Google keeps your list of searches forever, in order to tailor your shopping, but Google must think I’m a serial-killing, narcissistic, kidnapping, alien, alcoholic politician, or something equally bizarre. I search everything. Google is actually my best friend.

I wrote an apocalyptic book last year (that I shelved) and I had to know how to survive in the wild; what was needed, and how to find water. I had to decide which things they would know and which they wouldn’t, to ramp up the stakes. But whether the character knew or not, I, as the writer, had to know.

I need to know their character traits, their physical traits, their hopes and dreams, fears and loves. I have to know they got that scar from falling off a stone ledge when they were six because they saw something so horrible, they fell unconscious. I know what they saw, but the reader may never know. And that’s okay. Characters should have hidden nuances.

I have even researched angry responses to certain topics that I myself am not angry with. I have learned to see both sides of the coin…together. Being a writer and exploring both sides of an argument helps me to live a more tolerant life with things that are different than my experience. Research the mind of a killer if you need to understand the motivation behind how some people enjoy causing others pain. It often stems from an abusive childhood.

Again, that’s backstory for the author, and possibly for the reader. You don’t have to agree with something to understand it and agree it has a valid point from someone else’s view. Sometimes, you learn things you never knew you wanted to know.

When I wrote my trilogy, I researched: how magic works, sword-fighting techniques, how to fight like a boxer, how to journey down a mountain, what sounds do you hear in the jungle, how long it takes a cargo freighter to travel the distance I needed, and how they spend their days, what island people of Hawaii eat, and biomechanical facts.

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I’m not sure right now what strange things I will need to look up as I go, but for now, I am going to submerge myself in the steampunk culture to understand as much as I can to decide what to include and what to leave out.

I’m afraid I’m not being very helpful today to those who come here for advice. If you are journeying with me, though, on this writing adventure, I hope you are researching your world and your characters, I hope you’re writing your synopsis and scenes. I want to get to the writing by next week.

I will be on a panel, answering publishing questions on Tuesday, June 18th, in Topeka, Kansas, at the Shawnee Library from 6:30-8:30 pm. If you are local, please feel free to stop by. I will have handouts for writers, and be at a table selling my books when I’m not on the panel. If you are writing along with me, please consider leaving your progress in the comments section so I know how you’re doing.

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See you next week when we talk about writing word-count goals and see where we are. If you are writing your first book for publication, now is the time to start working on your social media as a writer. Change your handles to an “author” or “writer” name, or get creative. Just remember to keep your handles consistent. If people know you as @KittyWriter6 on Twitter, they will never find you as @Writer_Kit on another site. Part of building your brand is making yourself findable. You WANT the exposure. You want to be found. Especially down the road when you have a book to share. Don’t confuse your readers.

And you don’t have to be on every social networking site there is. Agents want to see that you are ACTIVE on at least one site. That you are interacting with your public. Publishers see every one of your contacts as a potential sale when you announce that you have a book. So, to a publisher, more is better, but again, you must be active and working.

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Don’t worry, though, if you know very few people. Just get a Twitter account (the literary world is all on Twitter) and start visiting the #WritingCommunity hashtag to see what people are saying. “Like” the comments that you like, and “share” the comments that you love. And when you have something to add, leave a comment. One day, you will think of something inspiring to say, so make a tweet about it. That’s all there is to it. Other writers will follow you, and I suggest following those who follow you, and have some part of your profiles in common. There are a lot of people who will not read your profile at all, they will look at your photo and then message you with a proposition, or just try to start a “get-to-know” you conversation leading to love, even though your profile says “happily married, five children.” Yikes.

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Keep Writing, and I’ll talk to you next weekend,

~jenn

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