The Joy of Starting a New Story

M.C. Escher Drawing Hands
M.C. Escher
Drawing Hands

I love starting new stories. It’s like having a blank canvas in one hand and a painter’s palette full of colors in the other. I throw on one color, add another, mix. I consider depth and texture. I stand back. Hmm and haw. Have a new idea. Wash off the canvas and start again. I do this numerous times. It’s fun.

The book I’m working on is Eternal Danger, #4 in the Mata Hari Series.

Every writer has his/her own process. I’m constantly tweaking mine, but what works for me right now is a bit of planning and a lot of pantsing (i.e., writer speak for writing by the seat of my pants). I need the planning to give me structure and the pantsing to bring in the excitement.

scrivener2I draft with Scrivener, so at this stage I’m playing with chapters on a cork board on my computer screen (see left picture). Slowly the skeleton of the story clicks into place:  A Sadie action scene, Intro Marco -the bad guy, re-intro Khalid – the really bad guy, Sebastian the lover turns up… Twist point 1, a lot of blanks here… Twist point 2, more blanks… Crisis, denouement, which I actually know but don’t want to share, the end. I imagine scenes in my head and write a few.  I plunk them in, see how they look, move them around like furniture in a room, knowing that now is the best time to rearrange the parts. “Emotion, emotion, emotion…” I say to myself.

save the catWhen I’m confident I have a skeleton I can work with, I create a physical four-part storyboard, I adopted after reading Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat, with color coded scenes, on a large white board beside my desk. I know this is a redundant effort, SAMSUNGbut the kinesthetic experience of moving scenes helps me. I’ll be honest, my muse likes it and I don’t mess with her.

Then I start writing.

After months of editing, proofreading and formatting, getting back to storytelling is like dancing in heaven.


That’s what I’m up to. Do you have a set process for writing or creating things? Has it changed over time? Is your muse cooperative or cantankerous (mine can be both). Love to hear from you.

Author: Jo-Ann Carson

About Jo-Ann Carson Where magic happens … Reports of Jo-Ann Carson’s death on a Gulf Island are greatly exaggerated or, at the very least, premature. The eclectic crew of ghosts that haunt her head spill onto the page in two series: The Gambling Ghosts and The Ghost & Abby Mysteries. A Viking with existential issues, a broken hearted Highlander, a Casanova man-witch and a Pirate with a secret are just a few of the males her strong heroines encounter in tales of fantasy, adventure and romance. A firm believer in the magic of our everyday lives, Jo-Ann loves watching sunrises, walking beaches near her home in the Pacific Northwest and reading by the fire. You can visit her on social media: Website * Blog * Twitter * Facebook

8 thoughts on “The Joy of Starting a New Story”

  1. Love to hear you’re back to writing. I take longer in between finishing and beginning a new book. I can’t edit and write at the same time. So I put away SECOND ACT and wrote second in the series (darned if I can remember the name–it’s the one set mostly in Maine–love it :)) Then went back to edit SECOND ACT and get it ready for publication. After it’s release, I’ll start on the 3rd book. When that’s finished, I’ll go back to edit the second one. You know I guess that’s the same system you’re using. Except, I don’t plot the way you do. You’re even more systematic than I. Glad you’re enjoying using Scrivener. Just not up for taking the time to learn that. Anyway. It’s exciting times in the publishing world and we’re lucky to be a part of it. Keep on writing and sharing, Jo-Ann. You’re an inspiration. I’ll share. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Marsha
      I’m like you, I work on one, get it to a certain point, then work on another. I can’t seem to work on two at the same time. Maybe, I’ll learn to later. Thanks for your kind and encouraging words. You are an inspiration to me too.
      Best Wishes


  2. Glad to hear you’re starting a new book. Lucky you. I have a bunch of ideas swirling around in my head as I edit my mystery, but I am actually aching to start something new. Trying to be a grown up and finish what are already started though. Someday soon…


    1. Hi Judy
      I know what you mean about the swirling. It drives me crazy!
      I admire your determination to stick to one project.
      I can’t wait to read your new stories though.
      Thanks for stopping by.
      Best Wishes


  3. I love the way you summarize your writing process. I have just begun Laurie Schnebly-Campbell’s
    ‘plotting via motivation’ course and hope it will help me get a handle on the structure of my next story.
    It’s exciting to know that there will be a fourth book in the Mata Hari series. I can’t wait for April Fool’s Day when your stories will start downloading in my kindle:)


    1. Hi Helena
      It sounds like an interesting course. I really like working with Laurie Schnebly-Campbell. She’s a gifted teacher. I hope you enjoy it and find that key piece you’ve been looking for.
      Thanks, my friend, for being excited with me about my launch.
      My print copy is in the mail on the way to me for proofing. I have three books done now (for the 1st) and one that needs a lot of loving care. The clock is ticking. I’m going to be busy. But I’m enjoying it.
      Best Wishes


  4. I need to take a whole day and have a good look at Scrivener. Right now, I use Word Docs, my notebook and a pen, and not much else when planning a story. Time for me to move with the times, I think. 🙂


    1. Hi Emma
      I love Scrivener. I’ve written several posts if you want to look back. I highly recommend the course on it. It’s quite easy once you get into it.
      But whatever works for you… right.


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