By Katherine L. Holmes
Release Date: July 16, 2013
Genre: YA Historical Fiction
Five Ways to Jumpstart your Story
After The Swan Bonnet reached the HarperCollins Editor Desk at Authonomy.com, I began a total rewrite. An agent had expressed interest and I wanted to do something about my protagonist being among so many adult characters. I made her a few years older and added chapters. Never having added chapters to a work that way, I worried that I might not be able to jump in and imagine them. These are ideas for jumpstarting your story.
1. Sleep on it. Literally doing that might help. I haven't actually slept with the manuscript under my pillow but I've slept with it near my head. I've found written notes in my bed. Creative writing often emerges from the unconscious as dreaming does. When I first began writing, I used to put my typewriter in its case because I tended to brood on my story. Over a fresh day and during sleep, I collected thoughts about my WIP. Often, the hurdle I couldn’t jump was no longer there the next morning.
2. Revise into your blank page. Ernest Hemingway said that he typed at least the last paragraph he wrote the previous day before writing a new paragraph. It might seem wasteful but I often find that retyping a page or more improves the flow. However perfect a writer is as a typist, they hardly ever write down the perfect paragraph the first time. If a person has a busy day ahead, they might have trouble landing down to the next sentence in the WIP.
3. Do some fact checking. Solve some concrete details in the WIP. You have an idea of your character's taste in clothing, cars, or food. Go shopping for her or him, even if it's in another time period. Look up information about your setting or find facts that build on an event or scene. Write it down. Describe. Did you know that Margaret Mitchell wrote a character study - an individual history of every character in Gone with the Wind - before she began the book?
4. Free write. Before I begin anything, I usually get out a pen and simply write on notebook paper about my project. You can free-write at any time. Take a fresh page and let yourself go. Write around your next page. Speculate on character responses or "might-have-beens" in your WIP. Something behind the story might be preventing the story from simmering.
5. Change your surroundings. Some writers pick up and change place. I felt unleashed when I first got a laptop. I could write in any room and in comfortable positions. Once, writers used portable typewriters but electric typewriters and PCs put them through a desk period. Now with a tablet, I can write anywhere, as long as I'm not trying for speed. Alone, a writer might become too self-conscious. In most jobs, we work around and with other people. The solitary time of writing can become a lazy time.
Unbeknown to Dawn, her grandfather has shot an old swan out of mercy. In their coastal Alaskan town, her father buys the swan pelt, preventing her Uncle Alex, a fur trader, from selling it for export. Dawn’s father surprises her part-Aleut mother with a hat she helped to make and also with an idea to catch poachers. Shooting swans has become illegal but Alaska is a territory and Prohibition occupies the Sheriff. Dawn and her mother become involved with the suspicious effects of the swan bonnet besides its haunting effect. Because Dawn’s grandparents see the swans first, Dawn agrees to secretly watch the migration with the deputy sheriff’s son. But after she and her mother encounter women from a ship and find out about a hunting party, they ride to the inlet. There are townspeople roving the shore too but who is the vigilante and who is the poacher?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Katherine L. Holmes’ first published book was The House in Windward Leaves, an MG fantasy which became an E-book Finalist in the 2013 New Generation Indie Book Awards and a Juvenile Fiction Finalist in the National Indie Excellence Book Awards. Also, she won Prize Americana for her short story collection, Curiosity Killed the Sphinx and Other Stories, published by Hollywood Books International. In April 2013, The Wide Awake Loons was released by Silver Knight Publishing. The Swan Bonnet, a historical novel, will be published in July, 2013, by GMTA Publishing. Katherine has worked with used and rare books in the last years. She lives in Duluth, Minnesota.