Here's a bit on my writing process in the construction of a novel:
1. I first choose a theme/problem/conflict.
How does one deal with grief and loss? What is love? What is marriage? What is friendship? Is there right and wrong? If there is, how do we know what is right and wrong? Does God care what we do with our lives? Is premarital sex wrong? Is my body connected to my spirit?
2. Then I choose a main character that will have to deal with this theme/problem/conflict in some way.
The character will be a mix of people I know - their appearance, their quirks, their likes, their dislikes, their fears, their desires. I will have the character want something, then throw obstacles in his or her way to achieve what he or she wants. What she wants will reflect the theme chosen. I will make the main character sympathetic, that is, a person the reader will like, so that the reader cares what happens to the character and turns the page to find out.
3. I will complicate the plot which has already begun in #2.
Things will get worse and worse for my main character until she reaches a crisis. At this point she will be forced to make a choice. Things will then change for the better, both inside her (her feelings about her life) and outside her. These changes and choices will reflect the main theme.
I will add subplots that kind of weave in and out of the main plot. Each of those will have a character who wants something and is trying to achieve it and who has obstacles as well. They too will reflect the main theme.
In the story I will use characters I know and settings I have experienced. If my character eats pizza, I think about the flavors and feel of the warm spicy cheese in my mouth and the thin crust - but maybe she likes the thick crust. I use sensory details to describe what she hears, sees, tastes, touches, smells. If there is a waterfall in the story, I will have seen, heard, experienced the waterfall (I'm told YouTube is a good substitute).
I keep a notebook and write descriptions of people I have met, and sometimes I refer to these when creating characters. The same for settings. I notice news stories and see what makes people jealous, envious, angry, and some of the choices they make and what happens to them. I look for common emotions so that my readers will identify with the character's feelings. Grief is a universal one, whether losing a parent, a sibling, or even a pet. It is a type of loss. Losing a friend is another kind of grief, of loss.
My first novel, Pilgrimage, is about grief and how God helps us deal with it. My second novel, Offerings, is about illness and trusting God. My third novel, Inheritance, is about the preciousness of life and how we must protect all human life, from the unborn to the very old. My fourth novel, Hana-lani, is about our bodies and the definition of love. In each of these stories, I created problems that had to be solved. My main characters all want something and the plot pulls them to the point where they might just find it.
Christine has been generous enough to offer to give away each one of her novels. Isn't that sweet? To get entered to win, leave a comment either asking Christine a question, or commenting on something about her process. (Like, how fascinating that you know even what kind of pizza your character enjoys!) And make sure you leave your e-mail address so I can contact you when you win.
Christine, thank you so much for being with us today!