Don’t Judge Me on my Process

My name is Sylvie Fox, and I am a pantser. I swear, those of us who write by the ‘seat-of-our-pants,’ should probably have a secret meeting where we get all our vices off our chest.

The blog title today is only slightly tongue in cheek. So when do I as an author know an idea is just right? What ideas stay and what ideas go? How do I decide whether I can make an entire book out of a single thought?

I’m going to be honest here. I have no clue. It’s truthfully like alchemy.

When I sit down and type page one, I know two things: how long the book is going to be—either a short one or a long one; and if it’s a romance, that we’re going to have a happily ever after or happy for now. That’s it. I wish I could say more, but I can’t. Every day I endeavor to write about sixteen hundred words, and hope they add to the story.

I’ve thought about this a bit, and I think that for those of us who write by writing, that the choosing, sifting, and discard process must happen away from the computer. There are millions of ideas in the world. Nearly every day a new book idea comes along. Some I let go because they need a different kind of writer or more time than I have. Others I write down in a special notebook I have for such things. And others spring full blown into books.

I’ll tell you how I wrote the last book, though.

Don't Judge Me Sylvie FoxDon’t Judge Me (which is available for pre-order now, and will be published on September 8) started as a kernel of an idea: what if a sex addicted stand-up comedian fell in love with a sex worker?

I went to the Los Angeles Public Library and checked out a whole lot of books on sex and pornography addicts. (And yes, my librarian has never looked at me the same since). After reading about sex addiction, I quickly dropped the idea. I couldn’t fathom how I could redeem a character with that serious a problem, so it had to go.

The heroine as a sex worker didn’t work either. I didn’t know enough about that world to write about it confidently, and I wasn’t ready to do the research. So my hero became a bit of a player, and my heroine worked on the fringes of the sex industry as an adult webmaster.

The rest stayed the same. She was always wealthy prim and proper woman from Connecticut, he was always Korean American from California. Three hundred eighty pages later . . . there was a book which my editors and I love. So I think it’s fair to say that some ideas get abandoned. But the essence, the core of the idea and the characters remain the same.

As for the ideas tossed aside, none of those ever make it to paper (or computer screen). I’ve never abandoned a project (for too long anyway). After seven books, I can only say that doing most of the sorting and sifting in my head before sitting down to write works…for me.

I would NOT recommend this for others. I forget a lot of good ideas. Stuff that readers would probably enjoy gets lost. But I live with the chaos because it’s how the magic happens.