Guest Post // Marlene M. Bell, Author of Spent Identity
Thank you to Author Marlene M. Bell for sharing details about her writing process. It is interesting to learn about the behind-the-scenes. Enjoy!
How I write today has changed dramatically from how I began writing fiction in 2009. That year, I had just completed a memoir of sorts because our 4H club asked me to write a manual about raising sheep. While I was at it, I thought it might be fun to add in events prior to getting started in the sheep business. The book was nothing short of a disaster with few reader reviews. The subject matter was too narrow and not interesting enough for the general public. A few years ago, I took Among the Sheep out of print. I had spent so many years learning the craft of writing fiction, and my first attempt at non-fiction didn’t measure up to my potential back then.
It wasn’t until my fourth draft of Stolen Obsession and finding an editor who excelled in screenwriting that my plotting process changed for the better. Draft four had five different sub-plots going on inside the original story. My developmental editor from New York told me to pick one plot and write about that one, putting the others on the back burner for future books. She recommended that I no longer write as I go. It’s called “pantsing,” or a being a “pantser.” Flying by the seat of my pants wasn’t a good look for my work. It took me in too many directions at once.
My editor asked me to write a synopsis of the entire story and send it over to her for review. She made her notes and suggestions then sent me to outline the entire book scene by scene, chapter by chapter. I’ve found that using 3 x 5 cards is the simplest and best way to cover a lot of ground and keep the story straight. That, and having a notebook alongside for all of the details should the small cards not hold enough information. I wrote the basic second novel, Spent Identity, on 3 x 5 cards. Cards work well for simple information, and the notebook is suited for longer sections of dialog or description, should I need to add research.
If you find you’re easily diverted into rambling subplots that have no business in your novels, the card system is the way to go. It took me eight drafts and eight years to complete my first novel in the series because of winging my way down lost alleyways as I wrote. Once I got the hang of using the cards, Spent Identity was complete in the second draft in only six months. It went to press and was released within one year of starting the book. Yay!
I use past experiences in addition to reading research to find new story ideas. I also read a book a week when I can and watch a lot of cinema to get a feel for how the director uses mood and sets. It’s important to pay attention to the dialog between characters. Movies and TV scripts tend to show abbreviated dialog than in most novels where the writer can go on for pages. Screenplays are written in short bursts. It helps to learn how they take short dialog and work it between others on screen and make it compelling, taking the snippets and moving the story forward. There is an art to cutting the text from a novel without having it sound choppy. My first book felt more forced than the second book because of multiple editors and the long learning process. Outlining using cards is a process that every writer can learn from.
This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Marlene M. Bell. There will be 4 winners. Two (2) winners will each win one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. Two (2) winners will each win a set of autographed books, a notebook, and silver jewelry. The giveaway begins on August 1, 2020, and runs through September 2, 2020. Open to U.S. and Canada addresses only. Void where prohibited.
Marlene M. Bell is an award-winning writer and acclaimed artist as well as a photographer. Her sheep landscapes grace the covers of Sheep!, The Shepherd, Ranch & Rural Living, and Sheep Industry News, to name a few.
Her catalog venture, Ewephoric, began in 1985 out of her desire to locate personalized sheep stationery. She rarely found sheep products through catalogs and set out to design them herself. Order Ewephoric gifts online or request a catalog at TexasSheep.com.
Marlene and her husband, Gregg, reside in beautiful East Texas on a wooded ranch with their dreadfully spoiled horned Dorset sheep, a large Maremma guard dog named Tia, along with Hollywood, Leo, and Squeaks, the cats that believe they rule the household—and do.
Click here to view the Spent Identity by Marlene M. Bell Participants.