My Not-So-Secret Prep for {Project}

I almost had a title for {Project}: The Rule of Magic. Unfortunately, there’s a story coming  out in October that has a very similar title (The Rules of Magic), so it looks like it’s back to the drawing board for me. Or not? Do you think I should keep this title on the ‘maybe viable’ shelf? Do you have any brilliant variants?

Anyway, I wanted to let you in on a little secret. I’ve been doing my monthly aesthetic posts for a while now, and giving you little historical snippets into my precious little story.

I find this quote from Frank Herbert’s Dune to be true:

A beginning is the time for taking the most delicate care that the balances are correct.

I’ve managed to mangle a few books by jumping in without first getting a solid idea for plot, and sequence, and pacing. For some, these all come naturally, but I have to work a lot beforehand to make sure I don’t write myself into a hole from which I can’t climb back out.

So here’s the secret. I haven’t written a single word in {Project}. It’s not ready. It’s too delicate. The balances aren’t yet correct. I might not write a single word until next year. But that doesn’t mean I”m not working on it. I definitely am. Here’s my pre-writing process:

  • Art. Yep, I am an artist, though you haven’t yet seen much of my work on this blog. I’m strangely shy when it comes to showing people my art. I’ve done character sketches of both of my MCs: Merwin, and Jaquemayne. I modeled Merwin after Newt Scamander, and I can’t wait to see what you all think of him. MAYBE if you’re nice enough, I’ll post his initial character sketch. Maybe.
  • Research. You already know I believe in TONS of research. At the moment, I’m working my way through the books pictured below:






  • Confab. I’m really blessed to know several fantastic writers. Well, MANY fantastic writers. Some, like my husband and my brownie (my sister in law, not my dessert) are always available for bouncing ideas off of. Others, like my dear Mirriam and my cousin, Emily, have proven themselves invaluable for encouragement and support.
  • Roughlining: (Check out my roughlining explanation in the linked post)
  • Music: I’m working on putting together an ‘inspirational-themed’ playlist. So far we’ve got two songs. Hmm.
  • Collecting. That’s new, for {Project}, since it’s my first historical fantasy. I’m a tangible person… I don’t learn well from someone just telling me something. I need to be shown something for a skill to stick. I’m using that excuse to collect things, mostly from France or about France, from history. So far, I’ve found an Eiffel Tower calligraphy pen nib and a letter written in 1680 (which is well before the time period of {Project} but I couldn’t resist), and a giant map of Paris cartographied sometime in the early 1700s.

That’s all for my beginning process, except for a lot of thinking. How do you ‘pre-plan’ a novel? Do you just jump in? Do you spend months researching, like I do? Comment and let me know!