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April 2019: What Comes First
~ N.J. Walters ~

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.

N.J. Walters said:

I love starting a new story. Some authors find the blank page intimidating. I love the endless possibilities, the excitement of creating something new. I tend to get bogged down in the middle of the story. For me, a new book always begins with the characters. I need to understand who they are, what they want, and what motivates them.

Characters have come to me in different ways over the years. Most frequently, they’ll come to me out of nowhere. When I wanted to write a werewolf series, I had no idea where to begin. A small pack of five alpha males popped into my head. That led me to my next questions: Who were they? Why weren’t they with a larger pack? That’s when Jacque LaForge stepped forward and introduced me to the Salvation Pack. I quickly learned they were estranged from their original pack, which gave me plenty of tension and conflict, not to mention villains.

Often, I’ll have an idea of what I want to work on next—a paranormal or a contemporary series. Once I know that, then I go in search of the people who will populate the world I’m building. I need to understand their strengths and flaws, to know what makes them laugh and what hurts them. From there, they tell me their stories.

I do character sketches for my characters on file cards. For some reason, that works better for me than doing it on computer. Maybe it’s the physical act of actually writing it down, but I am the queen of the file card. I have stacks of them for every series I’ve ever written. Of course, my characters evolve and change as I write, and they often surprise me over the course of a book. That’s part of the fun.

I’m not a huge plotter. I find if I plan too much I lose the motivation to write the book. (That’s the same reason I don’t talk about whatever book I’m writing.) I’ll usually have an idea of where I want the story to go, maybe have ideas for a scene or two before I begin. Once I know my main characters and have the first scene clear in my head, I’ll sit down and actually start writing, trusting that the story will be there. If I get ideas, I’ll jot them at the end of the document and refer to them as I write. Sometimes I use the ideas, sometimes I don’t.

The beauty with being a writer is that there is no one correct way to do it. Every author has to find the way that works best for them.


Wolf at the Door by N.J. Walters cover

Wolf at the Door

[Paranormal Romance, Shapeshifter]

Gwendolyn Jones is working on an article about werewolves, not that she believes they exist. But there are people out there who do, like the nervous man who slips her a flash drive with information he claims will prove to the world shifters are out there. Gwen starts questioning just what to believe when two very real werewolves come knocking on her cabin door later that night.

Someone has a flash drive with pictures that could endanger his pack, and alpha Jacque LaForge will do whatever it takes to destroy it. But the something deep inside him ignites when he knocks on the door of that “someone”. He didn’t think he’d find a mate, or that when he did, she’d be human. But now that he has found Gwen, he knows he has a fight on his hands to protect her from his former vengeful pack who are out to hurt him by any means necessary.

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