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Swoon Author Danika Stone's First Draft Report: Off on a New Adventure

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Believe it or not, there was once a time when I’d never even thought of writing Switchback.

*cue Star Wars theme music*

Okay, maybe NOT that long ago (but definitely a while ago), I was riding the sophomore high of publishing Internet Famous, the follow-up to my fandom-focused debut, All the Feels. With my junior book in the planning phase, I considered plot. As everyone knows, I love the internet and gaming and fandom, but I’d already written a couple tech-focused books. I didn’t want to get pigeon-holed. My editor, Holly, encouraged me to step outside that comfort zone to write something a little more adventurous.

Switchback was the result!

The book started with a prompt from Swoon publisher Jean Feiwel, who knew I lived in the Canadian Rockies and wrote contemporary mysteries about the locale. (Edge of Wild and The Dark Divide both take place in the hamlet where my cabin is located.) Jean’s suggestion was to write a YA that takes place in Waterton. There are, of course, a million possible stories that could spin out from that, but paired with “adventure”, I had an idea…

Two teens lost in the woods.

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It’s not an uncommon event in Waterton Park. There are endless back-country trails and three sides of the park extend into other parks or forest reserves. My own cousin, who’d spent his whole life in the Alberta mountains, once walked all the way to British Columbia before realizing he’d gotten lost. The set-up made perfect sense!

Since I’m a “plotser,” I came up with a list of horrible things that could (and WOULD) happen if you were lost. I put them in order from least serious (i.e., being hungry), to most serious (i.e., being in mortal danger), and those became my chapters. I tweaked the timeline into the fall—the worst time for unexpected snowstorms—and BAM! I had a plot. Now it was a matter of following Vale and Ash along.

Yes. I felt guilty more than once. ;)

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So how about you? What are YOUR approaches to coming up with a story plan? Are you a plotter? A pantser? Or a plotser like me? Leave your answer in the comments below!

Switchback goes on sale May 28! Don't forget to add it to your Goodreads shelf!

Author spotlight

Danika Stone

Danika Stone is an author, artist, and educator who discovered a passion for writing fiction while in the throes of …

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