And now . . . it begins

. . . again.  (grin)  Last night, I finished breaking my 13 page synopsis into chapters, using it as a guide to write about a page of handwritten notes about each chapter, being careful to include who is in it, where to begin, and what poignant thought to end it with.  It’s here that I usually find my hook into the next chapter that gets you to turn the page instead of turn off the light and go to bed. 

There are definite no-nos when ending chapters.  Be careful ending with “I don’t know what to do.”  Never end with the main character going to bed.  Passing out occasionally is okay, and by that, once a book is almost too much.  Ending by taking a walk to clear her head is chancy. (Unless she’s thinks aloud that she’s going to talk to a neighbor about problem X.) 

I’ve found it most effective to end chapters with a thought or word that implies story movement.  “I”ve got to talk to Trent”  “Soon as I find Nick, I’m going to kick his butt”   “That’s the third body in as many days, I’m going to turn into a rat and do some investigation”  “Three, two, one, go!”  Something that teases the reader into turning the page to see what she says to Trent, how she finds Nick, or if she is indeed fury for the next 40 pages.  It’s all about pinging the readers curiosity.

So now I’ve got 27 pages of notes, I know the ending.  I can make a solid beginning that circles back to the ending.  I know the slow spot that I’m going to have to try to beef up.  I have some character growth that stems from the problems she’s dealing with, and I’ve got a way to end it that is satisfying, and yet makes you eager for the next book.  I know.  It sounds so easy the way I say it.  The hard part is finding ways to do it, and the only way you can learn to find the hooks and patterns is to practice–a lot.

Now I’ve just got to write the thing.

Today I’ll spend the morning writing out dialog, and hopefully turn it into prose in the afternoon.  Is the plotting lesson over?  (grin)  Mostly, but since I’m writing a first chapter, I’ll take some time tomorrow to tell you how an editor or agent knows how much time you’ve put in honing your craft–by simply looking at one page.   Yep.  That’s generally all it takes to decide if they will read more, or write their “Thank you, but no” letter.  Doesn’t seem fair, but if you’ve not put the time in, there are people who have, and that’s whom they want to talk to.

Puppies are sassy again, barking, not wheezing.  And tomorrow is the last day to send me your Halloween photos!  You guys really outdid yourself this year.  This is going to be hard to judge.



Filed under Drama Box

66 responses to “And now . . . it begins

  1. Kat

    Very interesting insights into your writing process. It is nice of you to share. 🙂

  2. jesslin


    First off I have to agree with a lot of the other posts here, you owe me sooooo many hours of sleep along with a few other authors. I do not know how many times I have gotten only a couple of hours of sleep because I just have to know what happens next. It’s horrible!!

    On a different note I have greatly enjoyed reading your posts and gaining insight into your writing strategy. I have started writing a book but had to stop because of moving and school. And now find myself wanting to get back to it. I loved the character grid; it is an awesome tool which I think will be an invaluable tool.

    On the subject of Rachel and her lovers, I keep wondering if she isn’t going to end up like Ivy. So far none of her love interests have panned out and I wonder if this isn’t going to affect her in some way. May be make her think she isn’t meant to fall in love or find that one person.

    • Hi, Jesslin.

      Grin. I’m not going to appologize for the lost sleep. Fair is fair, and I’ve had my own share of sleepless nights trying to figure out how Rachel is going to survive her latest fix.

      I hope you get back into writing. It can give you a lot of pleasure to see something come to life under your hands.

      About Rachel and her lovers . . . yeah. I’m kind of wondering about that myself.


  3. ScienceGeek

    These past posts have been very eye-opening. You’re extremely organized, and it takes a lot more to be a real writer than I thought! Guess I’ll just stick with appreciating the final product and being a science geek!

    • Hi, Science Geek. Don’t let the organization throw you. It’s how I like to work. There are tons of seat-of-the-pants writers out there who are just as successful if not more so than me.

      There’s no wrong way to write as long as words are being put on a page.


  4. Stephenie

    Now that first chapter bit, THAT I am very interested in. I know I’m a good writer but I live in fear of my own ineptitude… Pauvre moi! However, I’m really excited to hear more about this book… if only the Hollows could be a weekly series…

    • Hi, Stephenie.

      I’ll have more on the first chapter needs next week. I just don’t have the space for it today. I’m sorry!!!! I misjudged how much space the dialog page was going to take.


  5. Renee

    Thanks for sharing what it’s like to be a writer for a living. I think it’s awesome that your so organized about the process. The most disappointing thing for me, is finding out I’m going to have to wait an additional month or so for a new book. How did you get to be so far ahead in your writing in comparison to the publishing dates?

    • Hi, Renee.

      It’s my pleasure to share what works for me with you. 😉 I have to be organized, or I’d never meet my deadlines. I think fear figures in there somewhere. (laugh)

      You asked how did I get to be so far ahead of the publishing date? I worked like a dog for about three years, and I’m very careful to not add any more commitments that I think I can handle. I’ve gotten better at saying no. I like my free-time, too.


    • *Looks at Puppy pics* So I see….

  6. Jessica Santiago

    Wow. Sounds like you have your work cut out for you. I hope you are remembering this little thing called “sleep.” I’m kidding! Thank you so much for explaining your thought processes and allowing fans like me enter your world. It means so much to see your thoughts as you continue to weave the story and world of the Hollows so that we the fans feel further connected to the Hollows world…(at least for me.) Looking forward to another great novel. I hope you have a wonderful day.
    Sincerly, Jessi

    • Thank you, Jessi. I’m glad you’re appreciating the effort. These posts the last week or so are rather intense! But I know a lot of people will find something there to help their own work, so it’s worth it.

      You have a great day, too!


  7. Indy

    Hi Kim!!! Thanks for the insights into writing. Its been very interesting, and I love the whole character chart. I’m an engineer, we love things in spreadsheets. 🙂 Great picture of the pups!!!~Indy

  8. Hi Kim!

    I haven’t said this before, but I find your posts on the writing process very fascinating. I’ve always been curious about the nuts and bolts behind any creative activity, and how imagination and technique are brought into balance. Thanks for the insight.

    I’m glad the dogs are well again. They do look very content sitting in front of the fire, don’t they?

    I visited the Australian Reptile Park a couple of days ago with friends and my trusty camera. Here are a few pix. (Some of the photos have a “feeding time” theme and may cause squick.)

    • Hi, Hapalochlaena. Wow, those are really professional shots. I like! Thank you for the link.

      I’m glad you’re appreciating the posts on the writing process. Imagination and technique brought into balance–I like that!! Artists facinate me for that reason alone.


    • Thanks. 🙂 I’m strictly amateur and a photographic pantser, though. I know nothing about picture composition; I just edit out the parts of the photo that look unnecessary, and wouldn’t be able to explain why the remaining image appeals to me. 🙂

  9. Ehehe… *Alyss gives a dry cough and whistles, looking guilty…*
    Yes, yes I peeked! I can’t help myself. I knew about the infamous van scene books before I actually got there. lol. When i start reading a book, i have this uncontrolled NEED to know the ending (which is why watching television frustrates me cause I can’t watch it backwards!!). Sometimes, i can resist the urge to not read the end. Sometimes, with some books, it doesn’t help. But… Occasionally, I find someone who I really just CANT wait for. 🙂 So… I peek. WWBC has been sitting on my friend’s book case for about two months though, so I think i showed great self control to hold out until now. 🙂

    You have lovely dogs, i’m glad that they are barking fit again. Mine’s by my feet right this moment. (10 year old sausage dog).
    Have a good one Ms. Harrison and thank you once again for posting these.


    NaNoWriMo status: 20487. Insomnia has it’s uses as well as personal conflict. No interesting words today. For interest: here’s my NaNoWriMo page:

  10. Phil

    Hi Kim, the puppies look content, i’m thinking they know in some way that you made them feel better. 😉

    I think writing the Hollows in the first person was the perfect choice. A lot of authors are unwilling to do that and we don’t get the character insights and developement with those books that we have with yours. I appreciate that you describe your process of how you decide to end chapters. Knowing how and when to do that can be elusive, and you get it right!

    Oh, and please keep the little tidbits (couldn’t resist using that word) coming about the storyline. I know you’re careful not to have any spoilers, and these little hints into what’s coming are just enough to whet our appetites.

    Spoil the pups Kim! A litte bit. They deserve it. 🙂

    • Hi, Phil.

      Yup. Happy puppies means a happy Kim.

      I love first person. It’s almost harder in a way because you have to let the reader know what’s going on without letting the main character know, and you don’t want to make it too obvious or she looks stupid. 😉

      Knowing when to end a chapter is one of the hardest go-by-feel tasks there is. You just have to practice! I hope what I’ve said about them helps.


  11. Aw, cute pic. 😀

    Yes, share with us. Because I want this WIP to shine. I got several full requests from my last WIP, so I want this one ready to publish. 😀 Well, enough to get a contract. There will always be improvements. 😉

    • Tyhitai! That’s fantastic that you got requests for a full manuscript on your last WIP! You must be very close to being published! Good for you! And you’re right. Gaining publication does not mean no more improvement. It’s more like you know enough now to be accepted into high school. (grin)


  12. HeatherfrmAZ

    BTW I liked it a lot that you added in little things about you, I am not sure if you meant to or not but it seems your puppy made it’s way into your writing. I just love people who care and love their animals so much.

    • Hi, Heather.

      Everything about me slips into the book at some point or other. But it’s usually hidden under a bunch of stuff that isn’t me at all. 😉

      The animal thing, though? That’s me.


  13. HeatherfrmAZ

    Hello again! I have just finished Once Dead Twice Shy. I must say at first I was thinking I wouldn’t like it mainly for the reason that Ivy wasn’t in it, but I LOVED it. I am hoping that you will be doing a sequel to it, (It seems like you would) =) Just wanted to give you some feed back. Also, how in the WORLD do you think of such wonderful stories. They are so far out there that I would think you would have to chase them down!! So great thank you!! Please moreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.


    Lots of love from AZ Come visit us in the winter time, it stays mainly in the 70-60, still cold to me though!!

    • Thank you, Heather! I’m really glad you gave Madison a try, and delighted that you liked it!! Come back on Monday, and I’ll have the cover of the next Madison book for you.

      Mmm, 70 to 60 sounds good to me. We’re at 50s today.


  14. Gothar

    So, you intentionally keep me up all night reading when I have to get up to work the next day. Kim you are so EVIL!

  15. Dawn

    Hi Kim! Going to definitely try writing the dialogue and filling back in with prose idea and see how it works for me. I think it will scratch my “impatient itch”

    Glad the pups feel better! Have a great evening.


  16. Lurker

    “… being careful to include who is in it, where to begin, and what poignant thought to end it with. It’s here that I usually find my hook into the next chapter that gets you to turn the page instead of turn off the light and go to bed. ”

    You owe me a lot of sleep due to that! 🙂

    t minus 159,285 words to go!

  17. SeattleRobin

    I see the dogs are living the rough life. Poor things. (I’m cold and I wish I had a gas fireplace right now!)

    I also see that all those late nights of “just one more chapter” are all part of evil author plots.

    NaNo update: So far I have discovered that I pretty much do every single thing you’re not supposed to do. Your chapter tips just added to the list. But at least learning I try to not make the same mistakes moving forward.

    I’m supposedly writing in third person limited, but was having trouble staying in character heads very well, kept drifting into more omniscient. When reading Lost Truth yesterday I underlined a few passages (the Kindle is great for this, I can save it as a note on my computer) with Alyssa that demonstrate how to do it right. So you’re teaching there too!

    Word count: 15,715 and I’m stuck right now. Ugh.

    • Golly, Robin! (grin) I’m tickled you’re looking back at the Truth books to see what I did there. Alissa was originally in first person, but I had to change it to third to match Strell’s POV. My agent smacked my wrist for that one. (laugh)

      Keep going on the word count! You’re doing great!

  18. Aubree from UT

    My husband and I are HUGE fans. Thank you for creating such a tangible world filled with mind-blowing characters and thank you for posting such helpful insight into your writing process. I am in the floundering stages of writing a YA novel and your methods help to focus my scattered attempts. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

    • Hi, Aubree.

      Thank you! I’m really glad that you and your husband are both enjoying the books so much. It’s been my pleasure to bring my writing process to light these last few weeks, and I hope that you find something there to work with and adapt to your needs. Good luck!!!


  19. Juliet

    If I had something to say, Buzz Lighyear (Xander) would win. That picture is so sweet. 😀

    And your dogs have the best place…clever puppies 😉

  20. Chele

    The puppies look absolutely SPOILED!! lol! Just like mine. Adorable.

    Thank you for writing out your book process. I am loving it. I don’t write but I admire writers and you are right I can tell who spends more time on their story than someone who doesn’t. To bad not all writers put in the depth that some as creative as you do.


    • Hi, Chele. Yep, they are spoiled all right, but not rotten. 😉

      I’m glad you’re appreciating the info on the writing process. It just makes me more certain that you shouldn’t do this unless you love it.


  21. RebiNkc

    Glad your puppies are getting better 🙂
    thanks for providing us with your writing process, and spending time with your fans.

  22. Hey Kim i’m still working nano and determined to hit 20k tonight i’m at 17,526. I can’t believe i’ve actually found someone there whose written over 100,000 words already. I think thinking of each chapter as its own little story helps too thats how i’m getting along my character figures something out or finds out something and thats my cue to set the chapter to move to the next one. I’ve just looked back and realised i have two chapters ending with the character heading off somewhere its a good way to dump wasteful amounts of time when you cant think of anything interesting to happen to them whilst they travel between A and B.
    Rachel – UK @}~

  23. suzannelazear

    Thanks for all the great info! I finally finished my proposal and it’s off to the beta readers. Now, can I do 2500 words a day for the rest of the month to reach my other goal? ~grin~ At least I already have a synopsis and a game plan. It doesn’t have to be good by the end of the month, just done, lol.

    Oh, last night the tot asked for a cell phone. Sigh. Other kids in her class have them. Why give a kid who can’t read their own phone? LOL. Serves me right for sending her to private school, lol.

    Happy writing.

    ~Suzanne and the tot

  24. Bonnie Jean in MA

    Good am! Just read one of posts from earlier this wk, about Al not being around in your current work of art. You had said you hope the abscence will make the heart grow fonder instead of out of sight out of mind… I have to tell you, when I have read the other books and a character isn’t around very much or for a while I always find myself wondering where are they and what are they up to? So, no Al for now? ok with me because I’ll be thinking about what he is getting into while out of sight. Looking forward to the next release. Thanks Bonnie Jean

  25. Ooh, this is REALLY helpful to me! I have a tendency not to know where to split chapters, or how to go from one chapter to the next. I think I’m going to maybe try writing straight through and take care of chaptering on the rewrite lol.

    Glad to hear the puppies are well. They’re lookin’ pretty cozy by the fireplace!

    • That’s a great idea, Candace. Just write it, and divide the chapters later. I’d be willing to bet that after a while of that, you’ll start to see them sooner instead of later. 😉 Good luck!

  26. Linda (germany)

    If someone say to me, writing is no real work, I will kick his ass.

    Jesus Christ. Are you writing from the morning in the eve? RESPECT.

  27. Frotee

    I see. So depriving us of sleep, studytime and healthy meals is a carefully planned act. You really are a devious women Kim 😉
    (I love gaining insight into your writing though)
    Just fnished my reread of WWBC. The scene in the children’s wing broke my heart again, as did Kisten’s last minutes. So beautiful, yet so incredibly sad. Good thing that the last chapter left me with a smile – can’t wait to find out what mischief Pierce has planned next. (Poor Rachel :))
    Glad to hear the puppies are well again!

    Greetings from cold and rainy Germany, Carina

    • Hi, Frotte. 😉 Yes, depriving you of sleep is my plan. (grin)

      I cried every time I had to work on that scene. Kisten’s too.

      It’s cold and rainy here, too, but I’m hoping for some sun today.


  28. Kylie Ru

    Yay for barking puppies!

    I has a question about your writing strategy. So with it in first person, how do you keep it from being dialog heavy? I seem to be having issues with that part, so I have to either stop, redo the conversation in my head and try to put in some description, or add notes in the margin to include when I go to type it.

  29. Vampyre

    Howdy ma’am,

    Writing, hard or easy, you do, it well. A true pro can make anything look easy and in doing so inspire the less talented to give it a try.

    Are you going to put up the new Avery cover today? I’m looking forward to seeing it.


    • Hi, Vampy. I meant to. I really did! But alas, the cover got slid to Monday. I wanted to show you what my dialog page looks like. Sorry. 😉

      What I hope new writers come away with is that you keep trying things until you find what works for you. What you’re seeing here is the culmination of a decade of trial and error, and I’m sure it’s going to change as my skills do. At least, I hope so.


  30. April W

    That is so fascinating. I really appreciate the way you are breaking your process down. I know that everyone’s is different, but it does help. Now, I shall stop procrastinating and get back to my word count for nano. I have to do 5551 words today to catch up. Wish me luck.