How long do you think about a topic before deciding to write about it? Do you have a set of notes or a notebook where you write down topics that appeal before making a decision as to which topic this time?
How long I think about a book before writing it varies from book to book and series to series. In general, I stew on characters and topics for two months or more before I’m certain about what really drives a story. Since I used to work in research, I leave topics requiring more information until I’m closer to a first draft because I fall into the rabbit hole of research very easily. That helps me stay focused and prevents me from wasting writing time. I keep a notebook for ideas, and I have it with me all the time. However, my characters come to me with random scenes that must be written down on the spot and that’s typically what’s in the notebook. I prefer for characters to drive the story and only step in when necessary.
With Relentless Habit, I didn’t expect Brock and Cecilia to become a serious couple. My thought was that they would have a random hook-up, and that would be that – not pertinent to either of their respective stories. What turned into the first chapter was written as a piece of Flash Fiction for a writer/reader group on Facebook. It shocked me how much chemistry the two of them had with one another. Which of course meant, I had to see where that might go – but I didn’t start writing their book until five months after I submitted the Flash Fiction piece.
The more I toyed with them being a real couple, the more I realized they had a number of things in common. Not the least of which was Brock taking Cecilia’s sister out for coffee nearly a year prior, thank goodness he didn’t hit it off with Tennille.
With the next book in the O-Town series, I didn’t have to think as long about the story because in some ways Brock forced me into it. He says something to Cecilia about his brother, Gabe, and a woman Gabe is friends with, and I realized I had no choice. I didn’t want Gabe’s story to be a friends-to-lovers trope, but sometimes my characters know exactly what I never knew the book needed. To be honest, I wouldn’t have it any other way because it keeps the writing fresh and it rarely feels like work.
Karen Renee is the award-winning author of the Riot MC
series, the Beta series, and upcoming O-Town series. She has been writing since she was a teen, but has only recently brought her dream to life. Karen spent years working in the wonderful world of advertising, banking, and local television media research. She is a Jacksonville native, as well as a proud wife and mother. When she’s not at the soccer field or cooking, you can find her at her local library, the grocery store, in her car jamming out to some tunes, or hibernating while she writes and/or reads books.