The way we write our stories is probably a bit unconventional. We talk on the phone mostly. We talk about the human characters and decide the who. Then we talk about the horse and decide whether it will be male or female. Then we begin to talk through the plot. We know where the story starts and where the story ends and then we fill in the middle with all the plot twists and timing. Once we get all that done, I sit down and type out a Story Outline with a line or two for each chapter so we can keep the story straight and on track. We both spend a day or two going over the Story Outline, making suggestions, changes, and finally making the final copy of it.
We did that exact thing this week in a long phone conversation. We talked about how our fourth book opens, who the characters are in the story, and what happens in the story, from beginning to end, and in what order. Since our story begins with a crime, the dumb cowboys who pull that off have to get caught! We can never let the bad guys get away or win. During our conversations we get to know the characters well so when we write about them, they are like friends we always knew.
I sit down and type out a chapter at a time and send it to Nancy by email. She and I get together on the phone or on Skype and read the chapter back and forth to each other so we can hear the flow of the words and see if they hang together well. We make changes to be sure we’re on track with the storyline, adding some things in and changing some things around, replacing words with other words. When we’re happy with the chapter it gets saved so we can go on to the next. At the end, we sit and read the entire book to ourselves to make sure the story flows well together.
I copy the entire manuscript and hand it off to our Beta-Readers. They have volunteered to read our books and give us their opinion on content. One of our readers will cite grammar law about commas and capitalization. If we get out of hand with that she puts us back in line. They both view the content with our audience in mind and let us know if we have anything inappropriate for the age of our readers. They also help us with content where we may be politically incorrect for today (based on our state of advanced age, of course). We give them hard copies so they can scribble right on the pages. We review their suggestions and correct our manuscript accordingly. We don’t always take their suggestions, but really appreciate them making them. Sometimes we just agree to disagree.
As always, if you have any questions, fire away. We’re always willing to answer.