Aimee L. Salter

Guest Post: Turning an Idea into a Book by Aimee L. Salter

11/06/2013

Today's guest post is from the author of the newly released novel, Breakable. Let's all welcome Aimee L. Salter here at My Book and My Coffee. She's going to talk about a very appealing topic - turning an idea into a book. Personally, I'm very excited about this. Let's check it out, shall we? :) 

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As someone who baldly identifies myself as a full-time writer, people always want to know “how do you come up with enough story material for a book?”

Well, in terms of inspiration, I got lucky with my debut novel, Breakable. I had a really clear picture of a girl who could talk to her future self, but for some reason, the future self was lying to her. The story took off from there.

But the story I originally wrote, and the one that is for sale, are very, very different. Why? Because an idea isn't a book. A story has to have structure – and appeal – if you want to keep readers engaged.

For me, first drafts are always about indulging myself; What fluff do I want to read? What conversations do I want to have? I write a beginning, a middle and an end, then I put it in a figurative drawer for a while.

When I open that drawer, it’s with the intention of figuring out where my indulgence has created flaws –where is the pace dragging? What plot-devices or character motivations feel implausible? When is my main character annoying, rather than compelling? In that first pass, I’m looking for big, over-arching flaws. 

Sometimes when I find them it means re-writing a big chunk of the book.  

In Breakable, the original story had an “Older Me” who was far more flawed and unreliable than she eventually became. I was indulging in the concept that an adult can be just as screwed up (sometimes more!) than their teenage counterpart. What would happen if I made the adult self a complete mental? How would that affect the younger self when she found out?

But even though that was interesting for me, it didn’t work for the story.  No one can walk away from a novel where the character they’ve learned to love is essentially sentenced to a lifetime of misery. The new version of Older Me was developed over about eight different drafts. And while she isn’t perfect, she’s a compelling part of the story now.

Not every problem needs a huge overhaul though. Sometimes finding a flaw just means tweaking the material that’s already there.

One thing that’s occurred in Breakable is that the plot has barely changed since the original draft.

The story itself has changed dramatically, but that’s because characters have morphed, conversations have changed, and relationships moved in new directions. However, the places these things happen, the events that move Stacy from beginning, to middle, to end, have remained almost identical from draft one to draft seventeen.

Whether or not the changes are massive, or middling, the important part of developing an idea is the willingness to keep working. Contrary to popular belief, stories aren’t written in one crack, sent to a publisher, then made into books. Good stories take lots of drafts, lots of revising, lots of work to refine and pare back. Ideas are concepts – good writing is the vehicle to take that concept from inspiration to commercial product.

If you’re a reader, just keep in mind – the words you’re reading probably took months (maybe years!) to reach their present state. You’re holding in your hands the product of an author’s blood, sweat, and tears. 

If you’re a writer with an idea, but struggling to know how to get your characters to their dramatic and satisfying end, you can take a look at my plot development tips on my website. Sometimes knowing what elements are needed to structure a novel can help. And don’t give up!

When I finished the final draft of Breakable, I was overjoyed. Finally, finally I’d brought the story together the way I’d always envisioned it should be.   But it took over two years and countless drafts to reach that stage. For me, ideas come in stages.  Maybe it does for you too? If so, you aren’t alone!


Your Turn: Do you have any questions about how a story is developed, or published? Or the story of Breakable? Ask them in the comments. Aimee will be stopping by to answer them today.

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About Aimee's book: 

Breakable on Amazon (Kindle, Paperback)

If you can’t trust yourself, who can you trust?

When seventeen-year-old Stacy looks in the mirror she can see and talk to her future self. “Older Me” has been Stacy's secret support through the ongoing battle with their neurotic mother, relentless bullying at school, and dealing with her hopeless love for her best friend, Mark. 

Then Stacy discovers Older Me is a liar. 

Still reeling from that betrayal, Stacy is targeted again by her most persistent tormentor. Only this time, he's used her own artwork to humiliate her - and threaten her last chance with Mark. 

She’s reached breaking point.

Literally.
About the Author: 


Aimee L. Salter is a Pacific North-Westerner who spent much of her young (and not-so-young) life in New Zealand. After picking up a Kiwi husband and son, she’s recently returned to Oregon. 

She writes novels for teens and the occasional adult who, like herself, are still in touch with their inner-high schooler.

Aimee is the author behind Seeking the Write Life, a popular blog for writers at www.aimeelsalter.com. You can also find her on Twitter and Facebook.

Aimee’s debut novel, Breakable, releases November 4th for Kindle, Nook and in paperback. You can add Breakable to your to-read list on Goodreads.

Ara of My Book and My Coffee

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