Last week I posted about how before I start writing a story, I do an in-depth study of the main characters to figure out what they want, why they want it, and what’s in their way of achieving it (particularly how they’re in their own way of achieving it). While doing that, I also do any relevant world building, such as information about non-human species and cultural norms I should be aware of. After all that’s done, the next stage is to craft my book package!
By book package, I mean all the elements that would go on the outside packaging of a physical book. The title, the cover, and the description. Some people find this backward. How can you write the summary before writing the book? And without the book created, how can you know what should go on the cover?
But I find that by doing all that work first, it helps keep me on target as I’m writing the novel. If I have an idea of what the finished product will look like, I have direction for where the story should go. Sometimes it is intimidating to think of all this when I only have a vague idea of what will happen in the story, but it helps me firm up what shape I want my ideas to take. After all, once I have my summary, I know the gist of what should happen, don’t I? It also helps me get more excited for the book by seeing all of that laid out.
I’ve also mentioned in a previous post about how coming up with the covers for books four and five of The Genie Whisperer (during the time they were stuck in the Archives) helped me come up with the story. I knew that they needed to go the Archives, and I knew that what they found there needed to point them to discovering how The Society came to be, but that was all I knew. I had no idea what else would happen. Brainstorming ideas for the cover gave me the idea for the doorways and pocket dimensions found within them.
The nice thing about this brainstorming is that it doesn’t have to be the final product. Maybe after I finish the book, I’ll decide I want a different title, or that I should adjust the cover image, or that I need to tweak the description. The point isn’t to have something perfect, but just to give me some direction. Though I have to say that, thankfully, what I create during this stage usually contains a version I use on the final book. ‘Cause I’ve already done that work once and don’t want to do it again. And since when I’m brainstorming I write down multiple ideas for each element of the book package, there’s always a variety for me to choose from.