If Walls Could Talk: Writing Cycles

M. H. Norris

When I was looking at how television shows work for a previous project, I found the idea of production cycles fascinating. Once a season gets going, they are constantly in three different stages simultaneously for months at a time.

A show is in pre-production, then goes into production for the first episode, then when that’s done, it goes to post while episode 2 goes into post-produciton and the rest of the season is in pre-production. And yet, they manage this circle year after year and it somehow always comes together. Until the last week, I hadn’t experienced it in writing, per se, but got a feel for the three-fold circle a bit.

The draft for “Midnight” is done so, in theory, it has gone into the writing form of post-production. I’m working on another project that I’m not sure that I’m allowed to talk about yet so that is in the very beginning stages of production. And then, I’m in pre-production for the next All the Petty Myths book.

The circle is fun and sometimes I find myself switching gears. This feels different then working on different projects at the same time because then, they aren’t in different stages.

Sometimes, it’s hard to juggle. For example, as I write this, James is reading and editing “Midnight,” I have a tab open in my browser learning about a location I want to use in my next story, and for now, the next All the Petty Myths is taking the back burner so I can meet some deadlines.

Week to week, I come here and tell you what I’m up to, give advice where I can, and just sit down and collect my thoughts about the various stages of the writing process.

Project to project, I seem to forget various stages of projects as I get so involved in whatever stage I’m in. Like the one slipping from pre-production to production for example. At times, I forget how tricky it can be to have a blank slate and start a story from scratch. Sure, I love the blank page and the potential a new story has, but sometimes development can be a bit tricky. Names, stories, backstories, motivations, all this has to be figured out because it directly affects how your POV character not only tells their story to your readers but affects how they react to the world you are creating. If you don’t understand them, they can’t help you tell the story.

To me, the flattest stories are the ones who don’t allow their readers to connect to their characters~so when writing a story, I like to make sure that my characters have some odd fun quirk that I can reference, now and then, and remind you that for all their skills and abilities when it comes to solving crimes, they are people too and sometimes there is stuff going on right in the middle of a case. (It’s been awhile since I’ve done a post about creating characters. Maybe I should brush the old one off and modify it with my new experiences.)

It’s fun being in various stages of different projects. There’s constantly things to work on, things to think about, and gears to change sometimes at a moment’s notice.

And to those of you who have experienced you know that while it can make things a little crazy, you wouldn’t have it any other way.