{Guest Post} Laura Holt's Writing Tips *In Honor of Nanowrimo*

Laura Holt
Laura Holt lives in a small Georgia town with her daughter. When she's not writing, she's either reading, working out, coming up with new and exciting ways to promote her books, or spending time with her daughter. A few of their favorite past times include watching shows like Merlin on Netflix, shopping, and going treasure hunting. Laura is also active in the children's ministry at her local church, is addicted to Pinterest, loves anything chocolate (as long as it doesn't have soy in it), and is always looking for a new way to get her daily adrenaline fix. She is currently hard at work on the third volume in the Star Crossed series, Fathoms Between, which is set to be released January 2018.

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How I Write a Book: The 5 Step Process to how the Star Crossed series went from a Dream to a Reality

November means a lot of things in my house. The leaves are starting to change from summer greens to gorgeous fall reds, browns, golds, and purples, so there will be lots of raking (and jumping in piles). Thanksgiving is coming, so it’s time to count our blessings and break out the recipe books. And it’s NaNoWriMo, when writers everywhere break out their computers, type writers, and/or journals and hunker down to punch out a large word count. Now, I don’t know about you guys, but I have a very specific process I like to use when I’m first starting a book project. First, of course, I get the idea, which can be inspired by a multitude of different things depending on my mood or where I am at the time. It could be a dream, a book I read, a show or movie I watched, something I saw driving down the road, a song on the radio, a certain life experience, anything. The Star Crossed series, for example, was inspired by a dream I had my senior year of high school that struck me as significant during one of my morning workouts while watching The Vampire Diaries, aka one of my favorite TV shows ever.

Once I have my idea, I write it down ASAP, normally in my journal or in the notes section of my phone, depending on which is handy at the moment. These notes are nothing big, just the basic premise of what I want the book to be about, and once my idea is safely on paper and I can’t forget it, I expand on the idea by sitting down at my computer and making a detailed outline of the book. This outline will include the plot line, the timeline of the book and the setting, any important research that needs to be done for book, and, most importantly (for me at least, since if I can’t connect with my characters my story will be flatter than a pancake on a railroad track), detailed descriptions of the main characters: their names, their likes and dislikes, what they look like, how old they are, what their life has been like up to this point, etc. This is honestly where most of the work of writing a book happens for me. But it’s worth it, because once my outline is done, and I have a clear path of where my book is going to go, what I want readers to take away from it, and what I call a personal relationship with my characters, I can start writing the first draft. Depending on how much time I have to spend on it each day, it could take me anywhere from a few weeks to a year or more to write a full length novel. Believe it or not, it took me over ten years to write Fathoms Below then another six months to write the other four books in the Star Crossed series.

Writing the first draft for me isn’t the hard part, though. Nope. That comes after, when the original first draft is complete and I have to go back through it to perform the painful but necessary process of pre-editing it before I send it to my editor for revision. Think getting a tooth pulled, stubbing your toe, and having a migraine all at the same time, and you’ll be close to how much I loathe pre-editing. However, like I said, it is necessary, and when I’m done, I have a fresh new manuscript that’s ready to be polished into shiny submission form. And when the three steps to the revision process are done, during which my editor and I focus on everything from plot and grammar to head-hopping (something I’m terrible about) and punctuation, and my book is finally print-ready, I remember why it’s all worth it and am ready to start again.

Click here to check out a review of the first two books in Laura's Star Crossed series!!