Though I recognize Hannah’s emotion as she finishes her current novel, I’m at the opposite end of the spectrum. I am freshly seduced by my muse and at the beginning of a new novel.
Each book is different, but this time feels familiar and welcome. First, some topic or phrase will catch my attention and I begin to consume all the information I can find. It might be a concept, a historical period, a place, or an event. Regardless, it leads to voracious research.
There’s a place in my body (or perhaps more correctly my awareness) that I associate with preparation to write. Toward the end of the research phase, I can feel the weight and mass residing here. I feel full, sated with information.
Sometimes I have characters or plot at this stage. Sometimes I don’t, and if not, will begin to think about all this information I inhaled like a black hole, look at it from different angles, run it through my personal filters, and then jot down any ideas that come to me. Like the cluster in the photo above, each element becomes gravid, swells, and escapes confinement until, together, all the elements of a story are on full display.
I don’t plot until I hit the 20,000 word mark and then only loosely. Until then, all the information and thinking and supposing just builds until I feel I might burst.
That’s when I begin to write.
I love the “research stage,” so full of promise and possibility. So exciting because I don’t yet know much beyond my main characters and important supporting cast, and the basic idea of the story. I like the risk that the characters will jump track and take me a whole new direction. I love watching subplots form and appear without my direct participation. I love the writing, the first draft, the initial “download” of concept to paper. Whatever magical brain chemistry is responsible, I am forever grateful.
I’ll be in Hannah’s shoes soon enough. Until then, I can feel the weight and pressure of a new novel about to begin.