Thursday, June 21, 2012

Book after Book

"But how do you come up with enough to make a book - book after book?"

Once more I've written those two very important words "the end." And of course, I had to shout about it on Facebook. That's what Facebook friends are for, to help you celebrate the ups and send you {{{hugs}}} during the down times. So naturally I shared with my FB friends that I had found those words for the who-knows-how-many time. I've published over twenty books, but I've written way more than that. Some that will never be published. Some that might have a chance of ending up in front of a reader some day. 

This story that I finally found the end on has a very good chance of being published. First, I have to clean it up, tighten the words, make sure it's at least halfway okay in the next week or so before I show it to anyone. Editing waits in the wings. 

But one of my FB friends asked me the question above. How do you come up with enough for book after book? A very good question and a daunting one when you are a writer - whether you're a beginner or an old hand at writing. A book is a lot of words. Words that have to tell a new story each time. There are only 26 letters in the alphabet but they go together in amazing ways. I'm sure someone out there knows how many words there are in a dictionary. I don't. I just know it's a lot and that those words can be put together in endless ways by writers as they think up new stories, hunt fresh ways to describe things, create new people with different characteristics. 

How do we do it? I suppose the simple answer is one letter or word at a time. And there's truth to that. But the answer my reader was seeking is more complicated than that. So complicated that it will take a smarter person than me to answer it. Boy, that was a cop-out, wasn't it? 

So okay, although I can't answer for the great mass of writers out there arranging and re-arranging those letters and words into stories, maybe I can answer for me. Each new book grows in my imagination, little by little. Each one starts with an idea. A lot of time a what if question. Sometimes it starts with a character. Sometimes an event or place and the characters spring from that. I don't wait for the story to be fully formed in my imagination. I let the characters grow and the plot develop as I go. And somehow the words keep spilling out, sentence by sentence, until I do have enough of them strung together for book after book.

The first book I wrote was the hardest and the easiest. The hardest because I'd never done it before. I didn't know if I could even find that many words to tell a coherent story. It was also the easiest because I'd never done it before. Every description I came up with was fresh and new. Now I have to try not to echo my other books and find new and different ways to tell a lot of the same sorts of things. That can make book after book challenging. But it is good when I get to those two words that never change from one book to the next. The End.

If you're a writer, what do you think is the most challenging thing about writing book after book or story after story? And if you're a reader, what do you think would be the most challenging if you did try to write a story? 

Thanks for reading. And I know. I let Wednesday slip past me again. The out-of-state grandkids spent the night here Monday, and I knew it would make me forget what day it was the rest of the week. Top that with Bible School and Mom having some rough mornings and no wonder I don't know where I am or what I'm doing sometimes. I am hoping I knew what I was doing when I wrote the end. That remains to be seen when I do my first read through.


  1. Sorry Ann, difficult to read with the forest background.

    Earl C.

    1. I'm sorry you have difficulty reading with the tree background, Earl. But the posts are on white without the trees shining through.

  2. Ann, I had no trouble reading it. And, what's more, I thoroughly enjoyed your description of how you begin a new book. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Ann,

    I'm writing my 9th novel now (the 8th for Revell). I completely relate to everything you said. Everything. Very similar for me. I do remember after finishing my first, The Unfinished Gift, back in 2007, I wondered if I could even do it again.

    But I suppose, if God is leading us, He gives grace for whatever He wants us to do. Because the ideas kept coming, just the way you described. Sometimes, even now, I'll sit in front of the screen, a new scene to write, and I won't know exactly where to go with it. I start writing and it just starts coming together, sometimes in ways that even surprise me.

    It will be interesting to see what others say. Thanks for sharing your story with us.


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