The first part of the answer is that I find the characters and world as I write the first three chapters. These are heavily edited throughout the drafting process, but in the beginning I allow my Muse the freedom to breathe.
The second part of the answer is that the first three chapters don't have as much track laid down and are therefore easier (for me) to construct. I've only written one out of fifteen novels without having to resort to an outline of some sort at some point.
When writing Urban Fantasy, I find that it's virtually impossible for me not to create a mess without the structure an outline provides. There's simply too much going on. Over the past ten years, I've honed a spreadsheet that allows me to plot at a high level while still leaving room for creativity. It's also easily edited and transferable to any genre in which I'm dabbling. I literally can't write without it.
I use this template to track character and world building notes on secondary tabs as needed, but primarily I use the first tab, which has a place to track my word count, chapter progress, and high level outline. If I get stuck, need to add a chapter, or am writing a longer or shorter book it's also easy to add in extra rows to track these.
If you're still searching for a way to track your own work, I provide a link to a downloadable file as my thank you to you when you confirm your email sign up. Click here to sign up! It's free and never shared with anyone but moi, so don't be shy!
I'd love to hear about how you track your work. Please help your fellow authors out and share in the comments below.
In the bullet journal vein, I'm clarifying my goals for 2019. (Sure, the year is 1/4th over, but that also means there are 3/4ths remaining.)
Usually, my goals are vague. Such as, "Finish writing book x." When I plan out every detail of my year, I get overwhelmed; however, I don't want to under-reach either. So, in the name of balance, I'm digging a little deeper but not getting overly specific.
Over the rest of the year, I'll check in with blog posts on each of these areas. You'll keep me honest, right? Feel free to inspire me and others in the comments with how you track and meet your own goals.
It used to hang on a window in my office overlooking the snowy backyard. I completed my first novel, a Middle Grade titled Blurb about a librarian who loves books but who never reads because he is afraid he won't be able to finish the books in one sitting. His friend teaches him about chapters in books, and that he can stop there without feeling overwhelmed. "They are tiny books within the stories," she explains. It is, to our adult eyes, obvious but, possessing an MLS myself, I have seen how intimidating chapter books can be to newer readers.
But, I digress...
Stained glass making never happened, but writing did; and I still own the few pieces I collected during that time. Now, I piece together colorful words to paint pictures of worlds made of glass and fire. They come alive for me on paper in much the same way I imagine Tiffany's imagination breathed life magic into glass.
If I devoted enough time to drawing, stained glass, knitting, or even gardening, I'm sure I could become at least proficient in them. I would never be a Michelangelo or a Tiffany, but that's not what matters. What matters is what medium calls to me in a way that sparks the magic of life. For most of my life, for reasons unidentified and mysterious even to me--it can't be a familial love of reading, because I'm the only writer in a family full of crafters--I have created with words on paper. Ink is in my blood.
Before I leave off, I want to share a doodle-like poem I scribbled while in grad school.
Sheets of color,
in breath and flame.
Shards of pane,
with lead and iron.
upon a world of glass and fire.
Not another Kate!
I am a word alchemist, angel apologist--no, really, I'm very sorry about them--and urban fantasist. I reside in all possible worlds.