C.C. Harrison’s Quick and Easy Way to Cook a Book
Today I’m happy to welcome author C.C. Harrison as she offers a fun way to create a book.
I’m fascinated by the writing process and have always been interested in knowing how authors develop their books. I wanted to know specifically, step by step, what did they do? Eventually I realized there was no one way to write a book, and over time I discovered a process that works for me – index cards. My critique partner at the time called them “cooking cards,” so here I’ll share with you my recipe for cooking a book.
PREPARATION TIME: Varies; days, weeks or months.
ASSEMBLE INGREDIENTS: Gather the following together in your mind or on paper
- A story idea—Just a nugget will do, but more is better
- Character names—Physical descriptions can come later, but you definitely need names
- Setting—Geographic location, or specific city/town. It’s okay to make up a place name.
- Type of journey—Someone seeking something, keeping something, or getting get rid of something. Story goals are many, choose whichever appeals to you.
- A couple of major conflicts
- Ending – Yes, you need a general idea of an ending so you know where you’re going and what the finished product looks like.
Combine all the above ingredients and stir gently in your head until the story begins to burst out of you.
Write a list of twenty (or more) events you want to happen in your story. This gets the creative juices flowing. Brainstorm! You may end up with many more than twenty.
ARRANGE ON COOKING CARDS:
Take a thick stack of 4” x 6” index cards and using a separate card for each jot down story events, plot points, turning points, scene ideas, bits of dialogue, critical and/or emotional character reactions and stumbling blocks. Leave plenty of white space on each card so you can add more later. You WILL want to add detail as the writing progresses. Use the back of card as needed.
When you have a stack of cooking cards one-half to three-quarter inches thick (AND NOT BEFORE, lay them all out in no particular order on your bed or your dining room table. Carefully read each one. Then and only then, pick up one card at a time in the general sequence you think the events should appear in your book. By now, you will instinctively have a feel for this. Don’t worry about getting this part wrong, it can always be fixed later by rearranging the cards, which is why when you have your cards stacked in a general order, you will number them in the upper right hand corner IN PENCIL.
THIS IS YOUR STORY:
Wrap a rubber band around your cooking cards, or use a giant pinchy clip. Use the information on these cards one at a time to write your book, and you will always know where you are going even if you don’t always know how to get there. Shovel in huge amounts of creativity, find a way to triumph over innumerable challenges, and you will have a book.
This method is flexible enough to insert new ideas during the writing while still staying on track and moving in the right general direction. I revise my manuscripts as I go, scene by scene, sometimes page by page, so when I reach the end, I have a nearly completed book requiring only minor revision and polishing, but little to no rewriting. I used this method to write all my books. Let me know if it works for you, too. You can contact me at CCHarrisonbooks@gmail.com. I’d love to hear from you.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
C. C. Harrison is an award winning author who knew she was going to write novels when she checked out her first beginning reader book from the library. Since then she has been honored regionally and nationally with writing awards for short stories, articles, essays and novels. “I like writing books set in small towns, the kind of small towns people run away to or hide out in. The secrets and misbehaviors there are so much more interesting. I know. I’ve lived in them.”
Her latest books reflect her diversity. SAGE CANE’S HOUSE OF GRACE AND FAVOR, a Western set in a Rocky Mountain mining town introduces the most unforgettable charmer since Scarlett O’Hara. DEATH BY G-STRING, a contemporary ukulele themed cozy mystery, is a Colorado Humanities Book Award Mystery Winner, an American Fiction Awards Finalist, a CIPA EVVY Finalist, and a New Mexico/Arizona Book Award Finalist.