Writers in the Storm

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August 29, 2014

Book Pregnant: The Five Stages of 'Birthing a Story'

Some brilliant authors I know began a blog some time ago, called Book Pregnant, to document their travels (and travails) as their first books were born into the world. They’ve moved on to other things, but if you’ve just made your first sale (or published on your own for the first time), the wisdom is still lying there for you to pick up.

It occurred to me in the shower this morning that we all go through being ‘book pregnant’, with every book we write.

Think about it. First, there's -


photo credit: Sylvain_Latouche via photopin cc


You are friggin' brilliant. You came up with a plot that is so fresh, so clever and unique, you cannot WAIT to get your hands on a keyboard. Depending on your process, you may actually run to a keyboard. Or start outlining. Or take notes longhand. Or... You get the idea. The concept is bright an shiny in your head, and you can picture the book, complete and perfect, in your hand.

I call this phase the, 'It's perfect because I haven't had a chance to screw it up yet.'

You are giddy. You're smug. And like a couple who have waited to conceive, you're relieved. And totally unrealistic about the journey. Oh yes, you may have written six books, so you know your process, but this time, it's going to be different. Easier. PERFECT.

Then comes -

photo credit: Pensiero via photopin cc

photo credit: Pensiero via photopin cc

The First Trimester

You've written an amazing beginning. The setup is engrossing. The first line is so good, it made you cry. Now you're going to dig into the meat. You are filling out the character's personalities, flaws and backstories.  You're playing. Like an expectant mom, you're in love with all the changes taking place. Linger here as long as you can, because next is:


Second trimester.jpg

photo credit: Pensiero via photopin cc

The Second Trimester (aka: dreaded middle)

Oh yeah, it looks all happy and cuddly, right? And it is - in the beginning. But then that cute little blue elephant above starts stomping on your head, during the day, and in your nightmares. Mothers-to-be start worrying about defective genes, birth defects, nightmare birth stories . . . and so do you, the author. What sounded brilliant in the beginning now is revealed as folly. You're bogged down in detail and impossible blind alleys. 

Oh, and you're starting the hate this friggin' book. You have nightmares of your editor's (or crit group's) maniacal laughter.  You consider giving up the writing gig to become an airport bathroom attendant.  By the end of this trimester, you're wishing for those toilets.

If you survive this phase, next is:


photo credit: zetson via photopin cc

photo credit: zetson via photopin cc

The Third Trimester

You've pulled yourself out of the mucky middle. You're not sure if that part holds together, and at this point you don't really care. Because you detest this damned book. The deadline is bearing down on you like a crazed bull, and you're not even sure it wouldn't be better to be trampled under his hooves. Because then you wouldn't have to worry about this flying-monkey-of-a-book anymore. 

But then, a miracle happens. You stop angsting about the plot holes, the character issues, and fall into the book again. Because that kick-a$$ ending you pictured from the very beginning is coming. You can feel it. By the last couple of chapters you and your characters are doing an intricate forest faerie dance, and bluebirds are twining all the loose threads together in a magical beautiful bows that you hadn't even seen coming!

As the expectant couple, you're looking forward to that amazing day:


photo credit: ::: M @ X ::: via photopin cc

photo credit: ::: M @ X ::: via photopin cc

The Birth (aka: The End)

You did it! You typed THE END, and your book was born! (except for the 14 edits and rewrites).  Yeah, you have all that baby weight to lose (put on due thanks to stress, spoonfuls of peanut butter and remaining plopped in a chair for months).

You're now in love with the hero yourself and are a little jealous that the heroine ends up with him. But you're willing to let bygones be bygones, because your characters are walking hand in hand, into the sunset.


Damn, I love this book.

Or is this just MY process? They say every pregnancy is different. How is it for you?


Cover SweetonYou

Sweet on You, Laura's August 26 release, was completed long ago so it's now her favorite book. But don't trust a proud mom, because Romantic Times liked it too!

4 ½ Stars TOP PICK!

Drake does it again, with a terrific contemporary western. She takes this time-honored format and injects such fully formed characters and realistic scenarios that you might think it is nonfiction dealing with everything from PTSD to the aging athlete, all while giving us a wonderful romance. Just top notch. While this is part of a series, the Sweet on a Cowboy books are completely independent of each other.


SUMMARY: Army medic Katya Smith is unable to get past the experience of losing a fellow soldier. She can’t go back to her unit until she can keep from melting down, so she takes a job as a medic for the pro bull riding circuit in an effort to recover her mojo. She doesn’t expect to become attached to the sport or the riders, especially the king rider of them all, Cam Cahill. Cam is a two-time world champion, but those years have taken a toll. It is time to retire, but he can’t imagine himself off the circuit. Katya does wonderful things for his body, but he is not certain he is ready for the things she does for his heart. She has made it plain this is a temp job, but if he could get her to stay, he can see a whole new future.



36 comments on “Book Pregnant: The Five Stages of 'Birthing a Story'”

    1. Do you hate yours while you're writing them, Lorrie? I didn't used to, but with the deadlines, I find I do. Luckily, it's a feeling that goes away.

  1. I'm feeling like an elephant at the moment with a 640 day gestation period. Oy!
    And now I'm craving Minion graham crackers. Thanks a lot, Laura.

  2. You left out the part in the first trimester when you are puking your guts out . . . but all in good cause! 🙂 I am still mucking about in the second trimester afraid that I will be pregnant forever. I often distract myself with short stories (aka one-night-stands) enjoying the freedom before returning to the miry muck.

    1. Ah yes, Kate, but like forgetting your problems by going to the bar, you wake up the next day, hungover. And the problems are still there. Fight on!

  3. Love this! And just FYI - "The" Book Pregnant group is alive and well, and many of us are pregnant with our second and third books! We've stopped blogging but remain a support/therapy group -- and just like with real babies, there is nothing like being friends with other "book parents!"

  4. Perfect analogy. In my case, I could prepare for a book in what Alabama Football Coach Nick Saban calls a "PROCESS." Coming up with a game plan, recruiting critique partners, writing drills and practice, constant revaluation and then . . . game day - it's released in the world.

    Looking forward to reading your latest release!

    1. OMG, do you see how she slipped in her stupid college team reference in there? If the Mighty Fightin' Texas Aggies hadn't beat the hell outta those gamecocks last night, I might be worried. As it is, your little elephant is probably hiding, shivering in some swamp this morning.

      Oh, sorry, ya'll, but she started the trash talk!

  5. Laura,

    I loved this! I am in the 2nd Trimester of my first manuscript. And I was definitely that expectant mom who DID worry about my kids fingers and toes and am doing it all with this, too. Such a great analogy.


  6. I love this post! It inspired several chuckles and full-blown bursts of laughter. I'm glad I wasn't drinking anything when I read it, though it reminded me as to why writing can drive authors to drink!

    1. Barb, now that you know you can DO it, it'll take lots less time, next time! Isn't it funny how we don't allow ourselves to be proficient at this until we suffer - a lot?!

  7. Yeah, well, remember that, when you're under deadline. I'm serious. I would have gladly traded with one of those ladies, if only they'd finish my book. They turned me down.

  8. Deadline = scheduled cesarean? I've wondered about that...how to work under that pressure. And how to admit when the baby is ugly? I can call it that because it's mine, right?

  9. See, that's the magic of it, Donnaeve - even if you think it's ugly after birth (where I am with the one I just turned in) by the time you go back for edits - it's gotten adorable! I love when that happens...

  10. This is a great article! I have just completed my novel Fury From Hell and I totally understand each and every stage of book pregnancy. It is especially resonant with me because I was ACTUALLY pregnant for most of this book's pregnancy. Does that mean I had twins??!@%^?!

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