My writing process is relatively slow and deliberate – but it’s worked for me so far. I’ll write down some notes as an idea comes to me, and then I’ll try to sketch out the opening scene and the opening plot points. I won’t get the entire book figured out in that first outline, but I’ll at least have a map to follow when I start to write. This allows me to focus on other things, like the details of the scene and the character’s voice. Later in the process, I find that it’s useful to have an outline of the entire book—like a snapshot of the plot—before I do a revision.
Writing can be a long process for me. I still write very lousy, ugly first drafts. Sometimes my second and third drafts aren’t so great, either. It helps a lot of I’m obsessed with a book, or a character.
For my last novel, The King’s Rose, I did a good deal of research about the historical character on which it’s based, Catherine Howard, the fifth wife of King Henry VIII. I read and re-read Catherine’s story, in different forms and by different authors, and I can honestly say that I did not tire of it. I was obsessed with Tudor England, with the Tudor court and all of the nutso personalities living together, trussed up in tight corsets and drinking too much wine. It was a hotbed of drama, and the central characters—the aging, mad king and his vivacious, lusty little bride—certainly did not disappoint. That is the magic of writing for me, when you feel like your book has swallowed you whole.
Alisa M. Libby
Author of The King’s Rose and The Blood Confession
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