Plotting with Passion

by Dawn Crandall, @dawnwritesfirst

Hello, my name is Dawn, and I am a Plotter. Of the first degree.

Even before I started to write my very first novel, which also became my award winning debut novel, The Hesitant Heiress, I’d tried out many plots in my “before writing” writings. It’s just something I love to do, and as I’ve learned over writing my four published novels, it makes things easier in the long run. It might be partly because I write my historical romances from deep first person point of view from only the heroine’s side. Because of this, I need to figure out all of the other associating characters just as well, and also make it so the reader will be able to get to know them as well as the heroine does as the book unfolds.
Since all of my characters so far have been a part of a four book series, there is oftentimes a continuation of one of the main character’s arc throughout at least one other book. I’ve been thinking about them often as I’ve been writing the first books, but not enough to really get into what makes them tick. And that’s what my extensive outline is for.

Outlines come in all shapes and sizes, but mine are written over a few months time (because I’m doing this author thing at the same as being a stay-at-home mom of two very young children… which is a bit nuts). They end up being about ten pages single-spaced and written in third person—I basically tell the story in generic form to myself and describe what’s happening from both the hero and heroine’s perspectives. This especially worked out well last year since I got pregnant with my second son a few weeks after my publisher had received the proposal for The Cautious Maiden, and then a few weeks later when I was about 12 to 28 weeks pregnant (the entire second trimester, fortunately!) as I wrote out the novel.

First of all, I start with a page numbered 1 to 30, because that’s usually about how many chapters I’ll end up with. Then I name the chapters. And then I brainstorm, piecing together things I see happening, moving those pieces around and trying to get everything to flow just right for “twists and turns” that lead to a highly satisfying ending. And because the love story and the spiritual arcs of both the hero and heroine are a huge part of my novels, I very carefully decide when momentous happenings (like some really great kissing!) and self-discoveries come up.

Over the years my outlining process has evolved. It wasn’t nearly as organized as all this when I was figuring out The Hesitant Heiress, but it definitely came to this point while discovering the story in my latest release, The Cautious Maiden. It had to be! I’d written my first two books before getting pregnant for the first time; wrote the third a little before, a little during and little after my first pregnancy; and then wrote the fourth on my iPhone 6 Plus while very pregnant AND with a two year old running circles around me.

It’s definitely time consuming, but it gets my story to a place where I don’t have to think much about it as I’m writing it—I can strictly be in character. Which is a really difficult thing for me now that I have children, especially since I have ADD. I’m seriously the worst person at organizing almost anything… except this organizing a novel thing!


Plotting with Passion by Dawn Crandall (Click to Tweet)

I am a Plotter. Of the first degree. ~ Dawn Crandall (Click to Tweet)

I’d tried out many plots in my “before writing” writings.~ Dawn Crandall (Click to Tweet)

Whitaker House, October 2016

Violet Hawthorne is beyond mortified when her brother Ezra turns their deceased parents’ New England country inn into a brothel to accommodate the nearby lumberjacks—but when Violet’s own reputation is compromised, the inn becomes the least of her worries.
In an effort to salvage her good name, Violet is forced into an engagement with a taciturn acquaintance—Vance Everstone.
As she prepares for a society wedding, Violet learns that her brother had staked her hand in marriage in a heated poker game with the unsavory Rowen Steele, and Ezra had lost. Now Rowen is determined to cash in on his IOU.
With danger stalking her and a new fiancé who hides both his emotion and his past, Violet must decide who to trust—and who to leave behind.

Dawn Crandall is an ACFW Carol Award-nominated author of the award winning series The Everstone Chronicles, which consists of four books: The Hesitant Heiress, The Bound Heart, The Captive Imposter and The Cautious Maiden.

A graduate of Taylor University with a degree in Christian Education and a former bookseller at Barnes & Noble, Dawn Crandall didn’t begin writing until 2010 when her husband found out about her long-buried dream. It didn’t take her long to realize that writing books was what she was made to do.

Apart from writing, Dawn is also a mom of two tiny little boys and spends a lot of time slowly renovating an old brick farmhouse in northeastern Indiana.

Dawn is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and is represented by Joyce Hart of Hartline Literary Agency.

If you’d like to learn more about Dawn and her inspirational historical romances, links are below:

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Twitter: @dawnwritesfirst /