Monday, August 18, 2014

What every writer needs to know

by Maria Geraci

As we wind down on our current cycle topic, The corn maze of novel writing, I have to laugh. Mostly at myself, because its what I seem to to be doing a lot of lately. Talk about irony. You see, I'm one of those pantsers who has desperately been trying to reinvent herself into a plotter. For those of you who don't know author speak, I'm trying to become someone who outlines her novel. Someone who actually knows what's going to happen next. Yes, one of those lovely people.

You see, I have a dream. That dream includes writing a novel in sequential order with every little thing perfectly and neatly tied up the first time around.

Sorry to say, my bubble or rather my dream has been busted. As they say in north Florida, it ain't gonna happen. Not for me anyway. And believe me I've tried.

But the writing process isn't the same for everyone. Nor should it be. I know that and I now accept that. At the same time, I have to learn to write smarter. Not harder. I have to minimize the amount of revisions I do because I simply have to produce faster.

After years of trying to figure it out, I think I have. At least, for now. Because if I know anything, it's that with each novel I write I learn something different, which ultimately alters my process. Hopefully for the better each time.

What's my current process? It's a stripped down version of the barest bones character grid. Not a bio. Not really. Bios take too much time and frankly, they kind of bore of me. I like to discover my characters as I write them, but I also know there are certain things I need to know before I type out Chapter One. Otherwise, I'm in for a world of long and painful rewrites. And what I have to know is what my characters want. What they really want. And why they think they want it. And what it is that they really long for, but are too afraid to go after. If I know that, then I know them. Or at least as much as I need to know to start out my novel. And if know what my protagonist is really afraid of, then I know what my dark moment will look like. And guess what? I'm half-way there. Which is a lot better than where I was before.

How about you? What do you need to know before you begin writing that first sentence?

Maria Geraci writes fun, romantic women's fiction, Her fourth novel, A GIRL LIKE YOU was a 2013 RITA ® Finalist . She is currently working on a contemporary romance trilogy scheduled for release in spring of 2015. You can connect with her by visiting


  1. As always, some of the best writing advice around, Maria! I do think the best questions a writer can ask, and at least attempt to answer before writing anything, is: What does he/she want? What's stopping it and how, exactly, is that going to happen? I find this often leads to a book-length answer. :-)

  2. Maria, I can't wait for your new romance series!!
    As far as plotting...sigh. I used to think I would always be a plotter, then I spent 3 years writing The Road to You and had to let go of that myth ;). Some stories I can still plot loosely. Other stories just don't want to be that well known too early on and I need to head into them differently -- with a stronger sense of adventure, I guess, LOL. For those books, the thing I need to know most is the feeling I want the reader to have while reading the major scenes of the story. I figure, if I can get the main character to feel those same things, there's the hope that the reader will, too.

    1. Hey, Marilyn! Yes, some books have their own sense of how they want to be written. BTW, Congratulations on hitting the NY Times!!!! What a great accomplishment!

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