It's interesting how serendipity plays into the writing process at times. For example, my wife was recently doing some spring cleaning, and something she was going to get rid of were some pads of lined paper. I snagged one of them to use as scrap paper, so I could scribble down ideas as they came to me. It's worked for that, but it's also turned out to be an invaluable outlining tool for a new book series I'm working on.
This series is built around a character named Danica Panica, and it's aimed at girls ages 6-8 who struggle with anxiety and related issues. I'm having loads of fun writing it. Turns out she's quite the character, with a high level of self-awareness and a cutting sense of humor. Each book is 5,000-9,000 words long, so they're pretty short compared to any of the other books I've written. I've completed the first four books so far, and I plan to have two more completed by the first week of June. My new publisher (to be disclosed soon) will release all six of them in Q4 2023. If things go well with this first batch, I have plans for 18-20 more.
Normally when I write a book, I spend a fair amount of time outlining my story beforehand. With these books, however, I begin with a title, a fear that Danica has to tackle, and then essentially wing it from there. In this case, "winging it" involves sketching a few ideas on that notepad before I begin writing and then diving into the story. Here's a picture of what that looked like for book 3 in the series, Danica Panica and the Thunderstorm of Doom.
I realize this probably makes zero sense to anyone but me. To help decode it, most of the numbers related to the speed of light vs. the speed of sound when calculating how far away a thunderstorm is. Others relate to how many people are killed each year by lightning strikes. Apart from that I merely tried to capture some initial ideas related to the plot itself. For instance, that I wanted the plot to involve Danica trying to get from A to B during a storm while out camping. As bare bones as this appears, it gave me enough signposts to cobble together a fun little story in an amazingly short period of time. I'm not sure what your brainstorming process looks like, but I encourage you to experiment with new tools. You never know what you might discover.
Speaking of bare bones, here are some initial character sketches from Hannah Doerksen, who is going to be illustrating the series. She has also illustrated my last few Milligan Creek and Uncanny Icons covers as well as Randolph the Yellow Snowman.
Brief thoughts and updates on writing, publishing, and life