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JessLynnBabblin'

  • Writer's pictureJessica Nacovsky

132: The Process Of Writing Light Step

Howdy! My adult literary fiction novel, with fabulist elements, Light Step, will be released on January 16, 2024! It is currently up for pre-order on TeaWithCoffee.Media. Of all the novels I've written, Light Step is my favorite. The plot was floating around my head for a good year or so before I set it to paper. The first draft was my NaNoWriMo project in 2020, during Covid, but post the brief minimally enforced lockdown period in Texas.


It's actually a sequel to another of my novel manuscripts, Soul Walker, which was the second novel I ever wrote. Stem & Stone, published last September, was third, and Light Step was fourth. Generally after I complete a draft, I'll talk it out with my now-husband. Light Step is the story of a man who dreams of the perfect woman, is obsessed by what he perceives as a futile attraction, learns the woman is real, and sets out to win her heart. I'm obviously biased in favor of my work, whereas my husband can be more critical. When I was done spelling out the story to him, he complained that it lacked a plot. While I disagree with that assessment, I acknowledged that the stakes weren't high enough, and the pacing felt slow. At that point, the manuscript was under the working title, Dream Girl.


As an aside, I used to be a much bigger reader, as in I always had a couple of novels on my person, which I devoured with every free moment. Gradually, I began recognizing patterns. Western novels felt formulaic. It's an issue with the concept of Chekhov's gun. In the spirit of, paraphrasing, "The gun mentioned, must be fired," anything of note carries importance in the plot, meaning I, the reader, can predict much of what must occur. As an adult, I happened to pick up some Japanese fiction that had been translated to English. Those plots meandered. While Western media opposes any "arbitrary" inclusions, I enjoyed not being able to guess what would happen next. The same follows in Miyazaki films. While Spirited Away felt slower, and had lower stakes than I'm accustomed to in movies, I liked the story. But had my husband asked me my opinion the first time I watched it, in high school, I would've said it lacked a plot. So I see where he was coming from with his feedback on my story. With Light Step, I was working to capture the surreal quality of a Haruki Murakami book, and not only was that not yet coming across, it was boring.


I believe it was Neil Gaiman who said, paraphrasing, that while readers won't offer the best solution to an issue with a story, they're adept at recognizing problems. In between the first and second drafts of Light Step, I turned to Greek/Roman mythology for similar myths. From those, I took inspiration, re-structuring my outline to up the ante. Some of the changes I've since kept, but the cast and wallpaper then felt too familiar. At this point, I believe I was calling the story Plum Lit Path, which had a nice ring. But, when I changed the plum to a pomegranate, which made more sense thematically, that died. Pomegranate Lit Path hadn't quite the same charm, unfortunately. In a later draft, I looked to Haitian Vodou for inspiration. Unlike with Greek/Roman mythology, which I grew up with an interest in, and therefore know a decent amount about, I had to do a ton of research on the history of Haiti, Vodou, Voodoo, The Kingdom of Dahomey, etc. As with researching for Stem & Stone, I consumed many Wikipedia pages, but for Light Step I also read many other informational websites, related novels, and watched a ton of documentaries. I didn't know what, specifically, I needed to know so I tried to learn everything, and ultimately, only a handful of details made it into the story.


With Stem & Stone, I believe I went over the manuscript 11+ times, on my own, and it received a once-over from an editor off of Fiverr, before I submitted it to my current publisher. However, Light Step only had about 8 drafts total (prior), so of the two, this came more naturally. I went in knowing the cast better, from Soul Walker, as well as the mood and overall point. It's now gone through four more rounds of revisions, half under editors through my publisher, and half through me, double checking their edits and looking for anything else I've missed.


I very much enjoy working with Tea With Coffee Media. Both the official editor and the beta readers are much more knowledgeable than me, regarding correct grammar, and they've spotted many a confusing sentence that required clarity. Writing is such a solitary process, that another pair of eyes is necessary to spot issues I've glazed over a half dozen times. Now the book is on the verge of being freed to the world. I hope readers enjoy it!


Anyway, thanks for stopping by! I drop a new blog post every Monday! Toodles!


Bonus Newsletter:

Hi! I'm not up to much, professionally, at the moment. I'm currently catching up on seeing family so I haven't really had a chance, nor the space, to paint. But! I did knock out a digital mockup for a watercolor I have planned. A couple of weeks back I went over the final round of edits on Light Step, as well as knocking out some last-minute tweaks to the background illustration of the book cover.


I'm currently very focused on advertising Stem & Stone and Light Step over my social media accounts, namely TikTok, partially because it's something I can do while unable to access my studio, but also because Light Step will be released on January 16th which is fast approaching. This means I'm finally forcing myself to get a handle on Canva (for making ads & fliers) and Capcut (for editing TikTok videos). I also found a website called Book Brush which has proven useful for making book ads for free. So far, I prefer it over Canva.


I still need to get Light Step onto Goodreads, so I'm about to start that process, and I want to check out Storygraph. It's a Goodreads alternative that is actually receiving updates based off of user feedback, something that Goodreads ceased years ago.


I wanted to jump into re-writing my NaNoWriMo 2023 project but it's difficult to focus on that here. It's a horror story about a family whose home mysteriously gains a room. I'm currently mulling over possibly writing an apocalypse story, but I don't have so much as an outline yet.


As for reading, I'm in the middle of Princess Diana's updated (post-demise) pseudo-autobiography, Diana: Her True Story--in Her Own Words. While I'm no royalist, I love learning history. Having just finished The Crown (which comes off as pro-Windsor propaganda, but is very entertaining in the early seasons), now seems like a great time to read both Diana and Prince Harry's books. Spare is up next! Then I plan to read Soulmates: A Metaphysical Love Story, by Sarah Faeth Sanders, who was, coincidentally, the editor for Stem & Stone and Light Step. I do hope to get some writing and painting done soon. I didn't get as much reading in as I would've liked in 2023 so I plan to read more in 2024. Thanks for checking in!




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