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GET INSIDE KIM HARRISON’S WRITING PROCESS PART 1

by Dawn, November 14, 2009
In honor of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) author Kim Harrison (Rachel Morgan Series) has taken the time to let us into her mind, and her writing process. For the month of November Kim Harrison will be updating her website blog constantly. So that means I’m going to be updating you every Saturday with the newest steps in Kim’s writing process.
A disclaimer from Kim herself –
Everyone writes differently.  I’ve been developing my writing style for over a decade, and this is what works for me.  There’s no wrong way to do it as long as you’re making progress.
Harrison just finished writing her rewrites for book nine, now shes ready to get book ten rolling, but what does she start with first?

I want. . .

That’s what it’s all about at this point for me.  What do I want to see or accomplish in this 500 page monster.  So today I’ll be sitting down with about ten sheets of paper and a pencil.  No keyboard for about a week or so.  I’m going to go over what I just finished and where I want to be in about three books from now.  I try to write down the gottas for story movement, and even some fun things that make the story interesting.

Sounds easy enough right! Ok whats next when starting a book. Organization is key!

First order of business:  Pick out the color I’m going to use for this book.  It’s a little known fact, but every book I write has a color which I help to quickly identify it in my file cabinet and scattered on my desk.  DWW is red.  GBU is pink.  I’ve had to get creative as we inch up on book ten.  Book ten is a sort of teal blue.  I’ve got matching paperclips, binder clips, and sticky notes, and if you think finding color matching office supplies is easy, then you’ve never tried to find teal blue paperclips.

Second, I picked out a working name for the book. This year, it took me five minutes.  Sometimes, it will take an hour.  It never stays the same all the way to the shelf, but I have to have it in order to print out my header sheets.

Third, I print out my header sheets.  Since I’m writing my notes out longhand, I like to have a header with my name, the book title, and a spot for the date.  I usually go through 30 to 60 sheets when I organize and outline.  Laughing?  Fine, but when someone comes whining to me that thirty years ago she wrote a book about a chipmunk and a shaman living in a monastery fighting crime, I can prove that great minds think alike.  He who has the most data wins, and I’ve got a lot.

I then pick the month the book takes place in, print out my calendar and sun and moon tables, and check the average temps so I know where Jenks sits.  (You can make a calendar page for any month of any year by opening up “new office document” if you’ve got windows and scroll through to “other documents” and find calendar.) They don’t take into account daylight savings, so watch it if your characters do.

I also print out a blank character grid so I can start to keep track of how many characters I’ve got going.  If there’s too many, I know I need to start trimming plots or combining characters.  I try to keep it under 20 characters, and that includes the bad guys.

Now I’m ready to plot and plan, writing out my wants, my remembers, my three-sentence plots.

Check out Kim Harrison’s Website HERE

Sounds like a lot of work doesn’t it? See what all these authors do to bring us a great book! Check back next Saturday for more steps in Kim Harrison’s writing process.

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