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April 2019: What Comes First
~ Ashlyn Mathews ~

CTR asked:

Which comes first when you start a new story? The title? The characters’ names? The plot? Explain your starting process and what you need before you can write the first words.

Ashlyn Mathews said:

When I begin writing a story, I start with a general plot or decide on a particular trope. For example, my upcoming release, Before You, is all about the fake boyfriend-girlfriend trope. In romance, I believe tropes help ground readers as to what to expect from the story. And one story doesn’t have to be about one trope. Before You is a new adult romance that deals also with first love, new love, as well as another trope I love, a secret double life.

After having a general idea of plot and tropes, I put together my ensemble of characters starting with the main characters’ names. Names are important. I’ll be spending weeks writing their story. Readers will spend hours or days reading about them. There’s advice out there about staying away from similar names or names starting with the same letter, but once I have a name and an image in my mind of what that character looks like and acts like, I don’t change their names. For example, in Before You, there’s Nora, Nick, and Noah. There’s also Ryan, Ruby, and Remy. Not changing their names. Uh-uh.

Once the names are decided, I write the book blurb. The book blurb keeps me on track. Helps me stick with the story arc. Is the story about working together to solve a crime while trying hard not to fall in love? Are they different people brought together under a stressful situation and now they’re finding they’re more alike than different? And by the way, he finds her to be sexy as hell and she thinks he’s over the moon hot. The book blurb gives me direction. I also write a short tag line. Tag line helps package a story into one or two lines. My tag line for Before You is: A young college woman questions her future plans when she unexpectedly falls for her fake boyfriend.

After the book blurb and tag line, and while I’m writing the story, I begin my search for a book cover. I love premade book covers and have a handful of cover designers as my go-to designers. I also go on sites such as Deposit Photo and Pinterest to search for and save images of what my characters look like in my mind. The images help me stay in character on the pages, especially when writing from a male POV.

And that is my writing process in a nutshell.


Before You by Ashlyn Mathews cover

Before You

[New Adult Romance]

A fake boyfriend she never wanted.

Ryan Allie Allistar understood from a young age true love and happy-ever-after doesn’t exist. Her college mantra? Head down, grades up, and stay away from the guys until after graduation. Period.

The chance for a memorable year.
When a night of celebrating leads to a scary run-in with a guy from her past, and sexy rugby team captain, Xander Brody, steps in and declares he’s her boyfriend, Ryan faces rethinking how she wants to live her last year of college.

They’re not anyone’s idea of the perfect match.
She’s not into college guys. And definitely not guys with commitment issues. He prefers coeds with experience in the sack. But to survive the mayhem of a stalker on the loose, an unsolved murder, and a secret double life on the verge of unraveling before their eyes, Ryan and Xander will have to convince everyone they’re “the real deal” even if it means crossing the unspoken boundaries of their friend zone.

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