The Process

How I Developed My First (Finished) Book

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It’s Friday again and that means I’m back writing about writing. Though I spent the week editing, I’m still thinking about if and how my story works. And as I read through this book for the hundredth time, it reminds me how it came to be a story that I’m proud of (hint, it took a ton of rewrites and many all-nighters). So as the editing process of my first book comes to an end and I start to get emotional because of sleep deprivation, this is the process of how my first book developed from an idea into a 90,000-word story (without giving away too much so you still might buy it.)

*Sorry if you thought this was a recipe for cinnamon rolls because of the picture*

I first talked about this book in my post about getting and staying inspired. In case you didn’t read that post or don’t want to click the link to read that post, I’ll recap. My inspiration comes from many places—as I imagine most people in the arts, not just authors do. What Happens after Midnight has a few origins that somehow meshed together to become a book.

My first idea for this was the conflict or really the climax that turned developed into a conflict. I remember sitting on my bed one night and having this conversation in my head between two unnamed characters. Then I thought, hey, what a cool plot twist idea and I tried putting it into a book. The main character and her family, and romantic plot are loosely based off the 2014 remake of Endless Love.

The setting is actually a kind of interesting story. The setting was based on a photo I saw on Tumblr. I follow a blog that posts pictures of beautiful houses and as soon as I saw it, I fell in love. I built the town around that house.

With those bits, I created an outline of the plot and started writing. I spent the entire summer in 2014 staying up until four or five in the morning and working on this book. My other characters came naturally as I wrote them. Plot ideas came to me as I worked. Then in three short (or long, depending on how you look at it) months, it was finished. I printed it out and started my first round of edits.

Though I was proud and loved the story, there were parts that came not to like, thought didn’t fit in, or felt like I needed more of. I passed the printed pages off to some friends in college, who read it and gave me their thoughts on it. They laughed at my edits and margin notes and told me they loved the main character’s love interest.

Then I went back to it, deciding to put in my edits. I changed big things and small things. Like I remember a scene where the main character gets mad and takes the car to go yell at her love interest and he was wearing a torn up T-shirt. After reading it, I realized I didn’t like the way it was described and I changed his clothes. Then I didn’t like the scene so I took it out altogether. I took out some parts that I thought were cute at the time but were kind of creepy when I read it over again (romance makes you do crazy things but it doesn’t excuse stalking). And then I thought it need

And then I thought it needed more scenes with the family and the main character interacting with her siblings and all the siblings interacting with each other. So I added more of those scenes. I changed the conflict. Not dramatically but it needed some reworking. After all that, I thought I was done. I thought I had a completely finished.

But then I decided to change it to present tense instead of imperfect tense. I started removing some things that felt unnecessary (like the entire third chapter). And I’m sure, when I finish this round of edits, I’ll feel completely satisfied until I don’t again. Regardless, my first book is finished and I’m ready to move it from development into publishing.

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