The First Stage of Writing

Sounds like a Twelve Step Program…

I’ve started a new novel.

It doesn’t look like writing yet. No actual writing is going on, in the physical sense. This is stage one: I’m figuring out why people are doing the things they do, what they like and don’t like, and who’s going where and why. The characters have to find their voices. Also there’s a bit of research to do: how do you harvest barley? How many people do you need to row your average dragon-ship? Which way do the seasonal winds blow, and why?

The other thing is that I couldn’t find the right title. Maybe other authors can work with “That Thing about the Troll” or “Why Amy Likes Popsicles” but me? Nope. “Casting in Stone” had two other titles during the writing process, and I liked them and could write using them – that’s apparently crucial for me – but when I realized it was called “Casting in Stone”, everything went so much better. The other two were fine. They both could have been the title and I would have been good with either of them, but “Casting in Stone” was the right title for that book. The other two titles might have turned into very different stories. Stories I might still tell.

But the main thing is to have a title that works in my head. Till I have that, no words can be typed. I have no idea why this is, but it is, and I live with it.

So I was having real trouble with this one, and I took it onto the internet for brainstorming, and a lot of people sent me ideas. None of them were “right” (but they didn’t really know what I was going for) but it did help, obviously, because a few days later, a really good title (well, I think it’s good) fell into my brain.

The working title is “The Shades of Winter”.

Make of it what you will.

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