Dawn Montgomery

In #amwriting, Write Talk on December 20, 2013 at 6:31 am

Write TalkA quick Q&A. I get a lot of comments about writing multiple books at once and the fear of making them all sound the same. I figured I’d share what you guys wanted to know here.

Q: Are you crazy? Who writes in seven books at a time? 

A: LOL! Promise, most of these books are relatively short so the plot development is not nearly as intricate. It makes it easier. Sane? I think sanity is overrated. If you don’t push your limits, how do you know what you’re capable of…well, that’s what I tell myself, but the truth is, I kind of got myself in a bind. Angel’s Masquerade, Silver Tongued Devils, the Sex and Magic books, and Dragons Never Lie are my priorities. The first two are obligations. The last two are series I must work on. If I don’t write the other books this month…it really is okay.

Q: How do you write in them and not sound the same? I’d get the characters/story/villains confused. 

A: Using Spotify, graph paper, index cards, some quick work in excel, Cold Turkey, and a timer  I did prep work prior to doing this insane final race of 2013. Let me explain:

  1. Spotify is an app/program I use to stream music. It’s a wonderful tool for me as music is the heartbeat to my scene writing. I see all my scenes as parts of a movie…and what movie would be complete without a soundtrack, right? I normally set up a soundtrack for each book with ten to twelve songs. This time, however, I knew I’d be jumping from one book to another so I set up mini soundtracks for each book. At a minimum, I I had, in order, the hero’s song and the heroine’s song (the songs I felt represented their personalities at the beginning of the book) and the song that represented the story. I might add two more songs. One that represented their romance and one for the villain. That was it. I’ll explain my process later, but for now, this is how I prepped with Spotify.
  2. Grid/Graph/Quadrille Paper: I use writing notebooks that have ruled paper on one side and graph paper on the other. I set up one sheet for each book. I divided the number of words needed to complete the book by the number 250, and then drew that number of boxes. Angel’s Masquerade, for instance, needs to be around 26k (minimum). I needed, therefore, 104 boxes. Keep in mind, I love this kind of hands on stuff, it helps me focus. This isn’t for everyone. So I drew out 104 boxes at 8 x 13 (with spaces in between so it looks neater to my eye). Each column, therefore, represents 2k words. So now, as I write, I can mark off a box when I get the next 250 words. Giving me a visual helped tons. There’s something so satisfying about marking a big ‘ol X in a square. LOL. It also gives me a way to eyeball how much more I need to have done to reach my goal.
  3. Index Cards: Index Cards serve two purposes in my prep. The first is character card creation. I set up a character card for EACH character in that story (keeping extra index cards at my desk is important in case a new character pops up while I’m writing). The second purpose is scene card creation. I set up primary scenes and their emotional followup. I set up primary scenes with a Goal, Conflict, and Disaster and followup scenes with Reaction, Dilemma, and a Decision. If you want a more detailed analysis about how it works, check out Scene and Sequel HERE. I don’t set up scene cards for the entire book, rather, I set up scene cards the night before so I know what I’m supposed to be doing in the next writing session.
  4. Excel: I have a word count tracker to keep me focused and evaluate, honestly, how I’m doing for the week. I only check my total for the week on Sunday so I don’t get disheartened if it’s too low or lazy if it’s higher than I expected.
  5. Cold Turkey: An app/program I use to block sites that distract me from writing. Facebook, Pinterest, all the other sites and programs I adore spending tons of time on.
  6. A Timer: I use e.ggtimer.com or online-stopwatch.com. This is important to keep me on track while I’m writing.

A: Continued…

My process:

Book A:

  1. Break out the character cards and turn on my spotify soundtrack for Book A.
  2. Listen to the soundtrack, making sure I tie the heroine’s song to the heroine’s character card (read it while I’m listening to the song) and attempt to get in their heads.
  3. When the story song comes on, I read through the scene cards I’d prepared the night before, making sure I’m in the zone for that book.
  4. Once the soundtrack ends (see why it’s important to make them small?), I switch to my writing music (no lyrics, sometimes white or pink noise. Whatever I need to stay focused), and then write in 25 minute bursts until I can’t any more, or until the scene cards end.
  5. Once that happens, I mark off each 250 word box on my graph paper
  6. I update the current word count in excel.
  7. Save my documents. Jot down additional notes or, if I’m up for it, work on the new scene cards I’ll need. Close my document. Either way I won’t spend more than thirty minutes on this part.
  8. Then I get up and move around for a while.
  9. Come back to the desk and begin Book B.

I then do everything in order again.

Q: Okay, but how do your books/characters sound alike? 

A: I use sounds and music to get me into character, so to speak. Goes back to my acting days, I guess…even though that was *cough* years ago. By listening to their character songs and the overall theme of the book before each session, I really remember the tone and attitude of each of them. Their dialogue, stuff written and stuff still in my head, comes to me during these character warm ups. The cool thing about writing is that I can stop at any time, click on a part of my book soundtrack and remember the way the character acts, speaks, etc. Trust me.

Check out the heroines of some of my books:

Silver Tongued Devils: Raina-Moonlight Sonata. She can memorize a song or code by ear. The first song she learned to play was Moonlight Sonata and she used the melody as a base her first personal security program. It became far more intricate in the later years, but she hums the first movement when she’s nervous.

Thunder and Roses: Tonya Rose-Tornado by Little Big Town. You’ll just have to meet Tonya to understand. She’s based on a real person who is best experienced as a force of nature rather than understood. It’s brilliant.

Holly Savage series – Lonelyness (from the Naruto soundtrack). Her trek is a tough and lonely one. This song captures her character in her quiet moments. Holly also has Nelly Furtado’s Maneater.

Voodoo Carnival: Erica Rhames-Paint it Black (Vanessa Carlton cover). She’s a former combat photographer with serious PTSD and a need to figure things out from behind the lens of a camera. Her interest in beautiful things turning savage leads her to an abandoned carnival with a dark history. It ends up a lot more twisted than she ever expected.

Dragons Never Lie: Princess Serenity-Principles of Lust: Sadeness/Find Love?Sadeness (Reprise) (Medley) by Enigma. This is a unique choice. Serenity’s a virgin trapped in a labyrinth with a quest to kill a dragon. So the entire song covers her journey.

Q: Doesn’t it take more time to switch from book to book? 

A: I thought it might, honestly, so I’ve kept meticulous records since I started. Strangely enough, that thirty minutes of focus at the beginning of each book session is really making the word counts kick up much higher than before. I also spend less time “taking it easy” since I usually work on two books at a time, and not always on the same day. This focused method is keeping me on track so far. We’re at the 20th day of the month and I’m still doing okay, so it’s working out better than I’d hoped.

Q: The way you do it will never work for me. I absolutely cannot do it. 

A: Cool. As always take what you can from this blog and discard the rest. There won’t be a pop quiz at the end and I won’t be standing over your shoulder telling you what you’re doing is right or wrong. You guys asked the questions. I’m just giving you the answers.

Q: Will you do this again? 

A: I want to say no. You have NO idea how much I want to say the word “No”, but I know myself. So…maybe. LOL.

So that’s it. Questions from you guys answered. Now it’s back to the grind. I’ve got one last day before the kids  are home on winter break so I need to get more words in. See you on Sunday!

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