Claudette Walker

Claudette Walker
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Apr 11, 2014

UPDATE: Journal of creating my fifth book, a novel

While approaching the end of writing my current novel, I thought my creation process might be of interest to readers and writers alike. From now to the release of my upcoming novel in 2015, I will add a few things of interest to this post. I hope you enjoy....

Writing a novel is a nonlinear process.  That said, the art of creating a novel is moving the story in a circuitous manor... yet bringing it all together in the end for a reader’s pleasure.  

When writing, I hear a rhythm that I want my readers to enjoy. The question for me at the opening sentence of any novel is, "What the cadence for this story?"  


My next writing day is inspired by thoughts from the previous afternoon.  Thinking about final word choices and verifying the strength of twine that weaves a story for the reader fills my afternoon. The extended time already spent creating this book has allowed me to reach a time of pure contemplation in the afternoon.

I search my mind asking, is there anything that I’m not completely happy with or an area that may not satisfy? Are the connections solid? Can I feel each character… see every place…taste the food…smell the air... feel the pain… the love… the deceit and of course how is the weather?  Never forget the weather in your novel.

I make notes, but do not open the manuscript until about 6 AM the following day. Then all the ideas from the previous afternoon are implemented into the manuscript. I'm excited and can barely wait to open the novel in the morning. I do this with the greatest pleasure.

Beginning in May, the new novel will be traveling back and forth between the editor and myself.  These last weeks I will be doing a final check on my story connections and I thought it would be a perfect time to talk about subtext...


Subtext or undertone is content of a book, which is not announced explicitly by the characters (or author) but is implicit or becomes something understood by the observer of the work as the production unfolds. Subtext can also refer to the thoughts and motives of the characters which are only covered in an aside. Subtext can also be used to imply controversial subjects to inspire thought for all, often through use of metaphor. 

This is one of the greatess and most changelling part of writing a page turner thriller. 


A thriller is villain-driven plot, whereby the writer presents obstacles that the hero must overcome. It can take the reader away from daily tribulations to faraway places, provide unforgettable characters, excitement and inspire thinking of another world that may exist around us all.     

“Behold the future is upon us, evil remains faceless.” 

When I begin a novel, it is but a concept of the story I want to tell. This general idea can roll around for months or years. However, when the story is ready to be told, as the writer, I commit to a year of early mornings. I greet the sunrise with coffee.  Then I begin three, five and sometimes more hours per day, day after day writing and verifying research. The very research I prepared while the story was brewing in my mind. 

This is followed by afternoon hours filled with thinking about the morning’s work, in preparation for the next day’s writing.  The completed manuscript will be hundreds of full size pages. Only to be followed by hours with editors, followed by cuts, re-writes and debates. Then it comes, the day I turn it over for final edit (May 15, 2014.) Many more proof-readings will follow that edit. 

Then the ARC (Advanced Readable Copies) going out for reviews four months in advance of the book release in 2015. At that time, a release date will be decided, while the manuscript sees its final proof-reading.  Cover art which has been in discussion will come to me in draft at this time and my focus will move from writing to the artwork.  That’s the how and why of this writers work.  Why? Because it’s a lot of fun and after all this work, I’m still enjoying the story. I hope you do to in 2015!


The value of a great, higly technically skilled editor.

My creative brain types so fast that my own head spins. To say the editors dot the i's and cross the t's ...would be underestimating the technical skill of a great editor.


The days are now winding down, until I relinquish the manuscript to this book again for more editing and proof-reading. This means a few things to this writer: (1) Did I say everything I wanted to in this story? (2) Did I connect all the parts? (3) Did I verify all my research with many sources more than a few times? (4) Did I vividly describe all the scenes for the readers? (5) Does each character have its own personality? (6) Each time I read this manuscript, am I excited by the story told? (7) Can the reader, see, hear, smell, touch and taste the story.

Now, feeling that I have met 1-7 above, I will surrender my manuscript on Sunday night May 13, 2014 to editing… I should get at least a week rest, before the editor is looking for me.  

In the last four months I have, burned my tongue on coffee during the long hours, bumped my elbow on the door jam during the nights writing… resulting in working with a wrapped arm, and last but not least, nearly lost eleven days of work for failing to use my auto backup system (it was recovered)...Just another day in the paradise of a writer's world. 


Monday night May 13, 2014, I turned the new novel over to begin the final editing process. This is a relief. I will get some long overdue rest from the day to day work involved in the creative process. However, like a mother sending her child to school, I will miss my mornings with the story.  Although writing is hard work, it is so enjoyable for the writer. It’s a passion more than an obsession, but both must be present.

I know it’s time, the story is told and I’m pleased. I will have about a week of rest before questions, comments, discussions and flat out hard core debates begin with editing. During this process a writer should understand, this is not a test of will or power, so put aside your ego. 

Editing is a search for the best possible words, phrases and punctuation to take the reader far away on a journey to an unknown world. A world in which they escape the day to day and come back refreshed. That’s the thrill of fiction. 

Remember editing is a joint process and yet hands on, like all phases of a book. Most of the time the editor is right, writer get over it. But, sometimes you need to stick to your words and how you have chosen to write a phase. Creative writers and technical editors are very different creatures. Make sure you have a well-trained technical editor. You must also be able to communicate ideas and concepts with that editor for the long days and nights needed. This process will be a couple of months work in close communication.

Cover art has now landed on my desk again and I feel we are getting closer to my vision. Color, font, style and more are so important. It is designed to tell the reader, something special is in inside this cover.  

Just for the record, if I turned this post over for editing, it would be a different post with the same concept.  If ten editors edited it, it would be a different result from each one, so choose your editor wisely.


The Eternal Debate --- In one week, I will enter the final editing stage of the new novel.  During this time, some areas of the book will be debated until the very end of the editing process, when a final decision is made. Here is an example of a decision that took months, the opening paragraph to my last Jacqueline Rose novel,  C Street.

CRIMSON FLAMES ravaged her mind amidst a haze of smoke – without denial, she was acutely aware that she bore responsibility for the son of a bitch’s apocalypse.  His survival would be her Armageddon, his demise her albatross.  Jacqueline Rose committed the premeditated murder of a federal agent. 


JACQUELINE ROSE committed the premeditated murder of a federal agent. Crimson flames ravaged her mind amidst a haze of smoke – without denial, she was acutely aware that she bore responsibility for the son of a bitch’s apocalypse.  His survival would be her Armageddon, his demise her albatross.  


Well, I have not updated in about a month. Editing is a process that takes many voices and time. Every word choice, word placement and punctuation mark is part of the story and must be examined with a microscope. So, this is what I have been doing. Things go quiet and then editing has a question, which is usually simply resolved. However, something’s are debated. During the quiet, I have completed a first run at a new project and sent it off for review.  Although, like all writers I wear many hats, I try to keep my focus on the creativity. 

Final Update to this post. 

2014 has been a year already. Editing on the new thriller has gone sooothly and cover art is ready to be merged down. Scripts are completed for all three novels and I'm moving forward with the many projects at hand. Writing in any form is a challenge, pleasure and something not to be taken on lightly. To me a good writer is a combination of many things, a storyteller, a word lover, a researcher, a dreamer and relalist.  May all those who write find the next story needing to be told and may readers find the hidden thrill waiting inside each and every book.