Five Things I Learned Writing Lostuns Found
When writing/creating, every new work of fiction, every new story, or poem, brings along its own aspirational and inspirational moments, as well as, its own challenges, and I had many such moments when writing Lostuns Found.
Writing is an incredibly rich art form. The tools of language, word choice, character development, world building, etc., offer so many options. The final product, the book, poem, story, contains all the rich choices the creator makes, while leaving behind the infinite choices unchosen and paths not taken.
Each and every project that I take on, offers the potential for me to learn, to become a better writer, a more skilled creator.
It is always my goal and my hope to create something that is next level in some way from my previous work. Or, at the very least, to level up my craft for the next project.
Because with every project I learn/relearn. Here five things that I learned/relearned writing my newest Middle-Grade novel, Lostuns Found.
Source material can be pushy!
When inspired by something already in the world, such as a story in the public domain, it can be difficult to not let that source material drive the narrative. Like a number of my books, writing Lostuns Found was a joy and a struggle. What I struggled with the most was letting some of the source material get in the way of the story. I let the source material push me in directions that just didn’t work for the characters. In the course of things, I became tangled in plot threads that just weren’t working, and I was disenchanted with the whole mess. Ultimately, I ended up ripping out the entire last third of the book and reworking the story, putting a great deal of distance between it and the sources, while still including plenty of fun referential material. The final story is one that I am happy with.
It’s important to find the right tool for the job.
There is an abundance of craft books and craft tools in the world, which is great for a number of reasons. First and foremost, not everyone’s brain works the same. So, having an array of methods and ways to approach the craft of writing provides the opportunity for writers to find tools that resonate for them. This huge selection of tools and methods also means that if one tool isn’t quite working, a writer can choose another, or combine them. For Lostuns Found, when I found myself floundering, I used a combination of tools to get my head back above water. First, I took the existing story and put the beats into the Save the Cat! Writes a Novel (written by Jessica Brody) structure. This is when I ripped out the entire last third of the book and replaced the beats with new ones. Then I took those beats and put them into the Outside/Scenes of Jennie Nash’s Inside Outline. At which point, I was able to layer in the remaining Inside/Points (character journey) to test my arc before rewriting that last third of the book. There were a few more tweaks to make along the way, but I was able to then forge ahead and finish a draft I was happy with.
There’s a reason family movies contain pop culture and other references.
Some of my favorite books and movies drop in little references, nods and homages to the stories, music and film that has come before. It always makes me smile and feel like I am somehow in on the joke when I see something and make the connection. Some of the most fun I had with writing Lostuns Found was having the opportunity to play with that, dropping in references and subtle homages to pop culture and some of my favorite stories and films. Now, I am having fun wondering how many people will see them and smile at that recognition.
Visual artists are amazing.
I already knew this, of course, but every new opportunity to work with a visual artist, reemphasizes this fact. Every illustrator I have had the pleasure to work with has brought their mad skills to bear on the project and each and every time I am utterly blown away by how they not only have been able to take the vision that I spilled out of my head onto the page, but add rich and layered details to it. Every one of them has brought my ideas to life and made them even better than what I had originally conceived, including Keith Decesare who did the art for the Lostuns Found
It takes as long as it takes.
I know there are writers who can churn out a book in a matter of weeks or months, but it takes me a long time to write and edit a publishable book. A huge part of that, I know, is that I have a very busy schedule that includes book coaching and technical writing and author appearances in addition to the writing. But it’s also just part my process. For me, the books, the stories, they take time. And, yes, I also have multiple projects going on at the same time, but again, that is part of my process and the only reason I can average publication of a book a year. When I first started writing Lostuns Found, I thought it might take me a year to get it solidly drafted. A year later, I was sure I was going to have a solid first draft in another three to six months. But, in the end, it took me almost five years from concept to published book! That said, it’s a book I am happy with, one I am proud to present to the world.
I hope readers will have as much fun reading this book as I had writing. If you’d like to grab a copy and find out for yourself, please do! And drop a review at your favorite reader or retailer site. Thanks!