Monday, May 18, 2015

Writer's Chat: How Do you Begin? by David Castillo Dominici

Mondays are tough days for me. I just don't know where to many half-done projects and chores, and such a not-fun day as Monday to kick them all off!

Sometimes, I find myself looking at a new writing project the same way. Like, I have the idea, but the execution just seems a little...stalled.

So, in honor of this ho-hum day, I'd like to open the Alley to discussion...

How do you begin??

Please take the following three questions and choose one, or all, answer them in the comments (as will I), and let's start talkin' to get those writing projects movin'!! Oh...and there is a bonus for commenting...we'll have a drawing from all who comment for the FANTABULOUS book... Revision and Self-Editing by James Scott Bell!

I just love a good chat with writer friends...and especially when I am trying to survive another Manic Monday!! by Stuart Miles


WHERE do you start your first draft:

A. At a favorite coffee shop with your earbuds and Pandora?

B. In a home office with your piled-high fave craft books nearby?

C. Other??


WHAT do you write? Is it what you've always written? (okay, that's two...)

A. Genre?

B. Indie-Pub?

C. Traditional?


HOW do you start your first draft:

A. Hashing out the dialogue and filling the tags/descriptions in later?

B. Descriptions and firming up the setting and character's internal conflict, then cutting and "talking" in the edits?

C. Other??

Don't forget, all commenters are entered in the drawing! Would love to hear from you, and invite your friends for a chance to win a great book!!:)

Angie Dicken is a full-time mom and lives in the Midwest with her Texas Aggie sweetheart. An ACFW member since 2010, she has written five Historical Romance novels, has a Historical underway, and is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of The Steve Laube Agency. Angie also spends her time designing one-sheets, selling Jamberry, and drinking good coffee with great friends. Check out her author page at and her personal blog at 


Unknown said...

Question 1: C. Other. Lounging on my couch with a nice, soothing beverage, my favourite brand of black pen, and a small binder filled with fresh looseleaf. Right now, it's much the same minus the pen and paper.

Question 2: A. Genre. I'm in the middle of writing a fantasy trilogy, typing up a rough draft that I wrote by hand last November. Right now, I'm exploring a brand new forest setting inspired by the natural bridges of a village in India, Lothlorien in LOTR, and the lush green vegetation of southern Japan where I'm living at the moment.

Question 3: Both B and C. I start where I left off the last time, usually with a previous sentence that launched the next scene. If it's the beginning of the book, I start with setting, drawing my reader into the world.

Joanne Sher said...

You've coaxed me out of hibernation! (though this isn't just a Monday - it's a MANIC Monday for me - so my hibernation has hardly been restful.

Question 1: Usually B - in my office - but I have started a few at C - in the carpool line at my kids' school.

Question 2: My current genre is picture books, but it hasn't always been. I was writing inspirational historical/biblical for a bit, but it wasn't where God wanted me. Now I am there - and I am leaning toward traditional, though I am not even CLOSE to ready for prime time.

Question 3: It's different every time - and with picture books, it's a completely different animal. Usually start with a character - though sometimes a situation.

Definitely fun. Now I am off the ground running - busy day/week! Thanks, ladies - miss having the time to do this!

Janet Kerr said...

#1 b feel good area!
#2 A My genre is psych suspense. Always with a crime.
#3 Telling the story.


Robin E. Mason said...

#1 - my "office" is my couch for the time being, clipboard [and piles] of notes, dates, names, research...
#2 - Genre is women's fiction / thus far Indie pubbed
and #3 - I start with the scene that's in my head [used a prologue in my debut, also in the sequel] - sets the stage, there is some dialogue, and of course, the conflict!

Angie Dicken said...

Wow, I love how you use pen and paper! When I first started writing, I would jot down inspiration as it came to me, and would find scraps of paper every where with my scribbles! :)

It sounds like your genre is one that might call for a strong description of the place since it’s a fantasy world. I LOVE setting! It’s so fun to come up with intriguing, unique ways to describe place.

Thanks so much for commenting…I will enter you in the drawing for the book!

Happy Monday!

Julia M. Reffner said...

#1: I do most of my writing at home, although my productivity can be quicker at a coffee shop or library. That just doesn't seem to work as well with where I'm at right now.

#2: Genre has done a lot of changing. Right now doing more devotional writing, articles, etc. I seem to be getting some more ideas for historical so I hope someday I'll head into that direction.

#3 I usually hash out the dialogue first and add more later.

Angie Dicken said...

Joanne! Sorry for the non-restful hibernation!! Yuck. I have been single-mommin’ it this week, and of course, I’m woke up at all hours, so my rest is non-existent right now too!

Love how you mention the carpool line at the kid’s school…I have been known to type up a scene in my notes app on my phone while I wait for my kids’ sporting practices to end!

OOOh, picture books! Are you illustrating as well? That is so interesting! Would love to hear more about it. That is such a different animal for sure, but I bet it’s tapping into your creative juices in a whole new way.

Hope your busy week isn’t too busy and you can stop by the alley this week! Thank you for commenting…will pray that you find rest amidst the hectic time!


Angie Dicken said...

Hi Janet! Thanks for commenting! Do you usually write the story in order of events, or do you write scenes as they come? I have always wondered if your genre might sometimes call for writing the black moment or the resolve first. :)

Angie Dicken said...


I love that you have hard copies of research at your finger tips! I have gotten in the habit of bookmarking websites on my computer and going back to them…that can be tricky since it’s VERY easy to get side-tracked with the internet! HA

Thanks for commenting!


Angie Dicken said...

Hey Julia! AS you know, I have just found that I have gone from descriptive setting focus as I start a first draft, to starting with dialogue and then adding to the scene later.

It has really helped me develop my characters off the bat and get inside their heads in a showing kind of way!

It's so exciting that you are going from fiction to a non-fiction kind of's great for the season of life as a mom...devotions are a must!

Angie Dicken said...

So...I will answer the questions, although I did kinda in some of my responses!! I just love hearing from our Alley Pals, so please spread the word for this Monday GiveAway!

#1... Lately, my favorite spot has been our local Starbucks with music...yeah, I said it in my post. I don't know...once I sat there for a few rounds of edits on my last book, it has trained my writer mind to get things done when I am in that setting! The great coffee helps too!

#2 I have been writing historical lately...minus the romance that I used to write. I just LOVE focusing on conspiracy and twisting the lives of historical figures, hee hee!

#3 Like I told Julia, I have started to get my dialog hashed out in scenes, so that I can develop motives and plot. I also think in the character's voices when I get "hear" a line they speak in my head (yeah I am kooky), I have to jot it down...usually flowing into writing a whole scene!

Love talking shop on a Monday...and yes, Joanne, many of my Mondays are certainly Manic!!!

Kar said...

Question 1:
Where do you start your first draft: I go between my couch and a coffee house with earbuds and Pandora! Sometimes if I am home I am distracted by the piles of laundry and other clutter and can't focus. But I tend to giggle and sing and talk to myself when writing which is sometimes mistaken for crazyness in public.

Question 2:
Right now I am trying to finish up my 5th children's musical. (With the 6th ones deadline already looming) I also write mystery dinner theater pieces.

Question 3:
I write very mathematical. I plan out all my characters and what level of interaction they have. I then map out my scenes and songs and write a quick paragraph of what will happen then fill in my dialog. Sometimes I don't know how it ends until I take the journey to get there!

Angie Dicken said...


Yes...home is a distraction for me. I do much better at a coffee shop...even if I have my bestie sitting beside me humming along to Pandora. ;)

You amaze me with all the hard work you do but make it seem effortless and so much fun!

Love ya!

Esther Filbrun said...

QUESTION 1 - Where do you start your first draft?
C. At home, in my bedroom. With my story bible in front of me. I also generally turn Pandora on. Oh yes, and I usually have a cup of coffee or chai close at hand.

QUESTION 2 - What do you write? Is it what you've always written?
A. I particularly enjoy historical fiction, but lately I've been drawn to a contemporary story. So--mostly historical, but a bit of a mix now.

QUESTION 3 - How do you start your first draft?
A mix of A and B, I'd say. I write everything I can come up with the first run through, and that usually amounts to quite a bit of dialogue and some description. For the most part, strong description and emotions (don't know how I miss that at first, but I do) happen in future drafts.

Courtney Ballinger said...

1) Other. I write with my laptop in the living room recliner. If the TV is on, it's volume must be super low. I get distracted easily. ;)

2) Contemporary romance-always.

3 ) The way the scene flows in my head. I don't purposely leave anything out.

I'd love to win the book. Revising/editing is my thing right now. :)

Angie Dicken said...

Esther, thanks for the peek into your writing life! I have been told that I either get overly emotional (like really dramatic) in a first draft, or this last one, I was skimmed the surface with the character's emotions...I think that's great that you know to tune in during those editing phases! You'll be entered in the drawing!

Angie Dicken said...

I am the same way about distraction, Courtney! My crit partner writes Contemporary Romance---love reading it, but I am a Historical writer through and through! Will definitely enter you in the drawing! Thanks for stopping by!

Anonymous said...

Q1) Once I've "seen" the vision of the story, I usually start my writing where ever I happen to be at the time - coffee shop, restaurant, waiting room, home...

Q2) Christian romance. For the most part it is what I've always written, but also have done stories for children and teens.

Q3) Writing out bits and pieces scenes or dialogue; sometimes it's descriptions of the character or setting.

Thanks for letting me enter and share.

Angie Dicken said...

Thanks, Linda! I will announce the winner tonight!!

Angie Dicken said...

Linda Morgan won the book!!! If you can send your address to We will get that in the mail to you!