Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Writing Under Contract

Look at me! How cute is my hair?! Ha!

*I used GRAMMARLY to grammar check this post because I have two toddlers, two cats, and one large, needy canine each demanding my attention while I try to write a coherent sentence.* 

Writing Under Contract: The Down and Dirty Details

Writing under contract with the threat of a deadline looming is infinitely easier for me than writing simply for the sake of finishing a book. The pressure of a deadline I haven't set myself but has been set instead by an outsider (publisher, editor, rival, critique partner) keeps me motivated to stay on a schedule and WRITE. 

As some of you may know, my erotic romance series, Sinful South, was recently contracted by Ellora's Cave. The series will be complete (probably) at eight books including the first book, Sinful Southern Ink, which was published in 2012, and Sinful Southern Hero which is currently being eviscerated (edited) by my lovely editor at EC. Really, she's very nice but no matter how many times I receive first-round edits, I still get nauseous.

Under the Sinful South contract, I need to deliver a new, completed, 60,000 word novel to my editor every six months for the next three years. Sound daunting? It did to me until I broke it all down. 

Knowing Ellora's Cave requires certain plot points at specific intervals helps when outlining the stories. For example, in a longer story, EC requires at least three consummated sex scenes, with the first sex scene taking place during the first third of the story. I break each story outline into three sections and plot around the publisher's requirements. Yes, it's formulaic but I believe the test of a successful writer is taking a formula and infusing enough personal voice and creativity into the idea that the formula itself becomes nothing more than a structural element unnoticeable by the reader.

Considering the word count goal of 60,000, I'll need to write an average of 500 words, five days a week for six months to meet my deadlines. 500 words a day is such a small amount, it's absolutely doable for even the busiest of writers. Even if I take a week off, catching up won't be overwhelming.

My strategy for writing under contract/deadline: 
  1. Cultivate main characters. (Names, personalities, appearance, etc.)
  2. Give the story a title.
  3. Break the story outline into three parts for plotting.
  4. Divide word count goal by number of days until deadline and schedule accordingly.
  5. Finally, the hardest part, SIT DOWN AND PUT WORDS ON A PAGE. 

When in doubt, remember one thing:  
Writers write. Period.