Guest Post: The Evolution of a Novel

Cheryl Landmark is the author of three novels.  Her most recent, Pool of Souls, will be available in September 2011.

Since I’ve become a published author, people have often asked me, how do you write your books?  Where do you get your ideas from for plots and characters?  What is your writing process like?

Truthfully, until now, I’ve never really sat down and thought about it in any analytical way.  How do you explain something that is as important and natural as breathing?  Writing has always been an integral part of my life ever since I was a small child just learning how to read and write.  I’ve always loved the feel, the taste, the touch, the smell of words; and my mind has always been stuffed full of imaginary characters and worlds demanding to be put down on paper like unruly children.

Sometimes, all it takes is the name of a character or a tantalizing plot snippet popping into my head on a walk with my hubby and dog to start me off on the process of writing, and then its full speed ahead!  I sit down at my computer, or, in the case of my earlier years, a blank notebook and a pen, and just start writing.  The words seem to take on a life of their own; my characters develop themselves; the plot moves from one scene to the next as though following its own predetermined path which is not always clear to me before then.  That’s not to say that my writing is always effortless and smooth.  Not by a long shot!  There are many times when I get stuck in a chapter or a scene and I spend a lot of time deleting and rewording and deleting again before I’m satisfied and the story takes off once more on its gallivanting way.

Sometimes, my book will get high-jacked by ideas for other novels clamoring in strident voices in my head to be heard.  I’ll temporarily leave what I’m currently working on and start those other stories off on their path.  People ask me how I can do that —  have more than one book on the go at one time and still keep the plots and characters separate.  The simple answer?  I don’t really know!  Somehow, it works, although not all of the stories make it to completion.  I have a couple of boxes full of partial manuscripts that I’ve run out of ideas for or simply lost interest in.  But, the beauty of that is I can always go back and start working on them again if I suddenly develop a plethora of ideas for them; it’s not like I have to start right from scratch again.

My writing process may seem somewhat unorthodox or unconventional or even wacky to some people, but it works for me.  I write by the seat of my pants, letting my fertile and over-active imagination seek out the path it wants to follow.  Whether or not the story ever gets published is really irrelevant.  It’s the journey that fills me with passion and pleasure; the chance to create a fascinating world out of all the words that fill my head on a daily basis.

But, let me tell you, when a novel that I’ve poured so much of my heart and soul into actually makes its way into that vast arena of published books and discriminating readers, it is the most incredible, satisfying, and thrilling feeling I think I’ve ever experienced in my life.  I’ve known that feeling twice now with the publication of Shadows in the Brook and Wind and Fire.  And, now, the exhilarating process starts all over again for my latest creation, Pool of Souls, which is due out from my publisher Asylett Press sometime in September 2011.

The evolution of a novel from a germ of an idea to a completed work is different for every writer, but I can almost guarantee that the journey to get there and the pride that one feels after accomplishing the task is pretty darn similar!


Cheryl Landmark was born in Canada in New Liskeard, raised in the small town of Massey and spent most of her adult life in Elliot Lake and Sault Ste. Marie.  Currently, she lives just outside Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada in a small hamlet called Gros Cap.  She lives with her husband and dog, Misty.

To find out more about Cheryl Landmark, click herePool of Souls is set for ebook publication in September and paperback in October.

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