My self-publishing journey: The untold story behind your story

Photo Credit: Rainne Mendoza

Can you imagine “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” without Audrey Hepburn?

Truman Capote, the author of the famous novel turned film who catapulted Hepburn’s Hollywood image to fashion icon status after the film version was released in 1961, did not really initially choose the actress to play the part.

He wanted Marilyn Monroe to take on the role of Holly Golightly.

But Monroe’s camp reportedly declined the offer because Holly Golightly’s character did not fit the actress’ career direction at that time.

And how about J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series?

A lot has been told about Rowling’s magnificent rise to fame despite her humble beginnings, hardship, and the adversities she faced in life.

Rowling was in a train when she came across ideas about a boy wizard for her first installment of the Harry Potter saga which came to her like a force akin to “a bolt of lightning”.

She wrote her Harry Potter stories amidst trials and challenges including her mother’s death. Six months after she wrote the first pages of her “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” novel, Rowling’s mother with whom the author had not been able to share the epic tale of her imaginary wizard world, passed away.

Rowling’s life experience along with her failures molded her novels that touched the lives of her millions of readers who generally identified with Harry’s struggles.

There are undoubtedly hundreds of thousand behind-the-scenes tales out there that shaped the stories of many authors – many of them may have been revealed voluntarily by the writers and many may have been continually kept in secret.

My own behind the scenes

My novel “Fobolous” is a romantic comedy between two young individuals whose minds and hearts connected despite their differences in beliefs and orientations.

It has identifiable characters and plots thrown together to create a heartrending tapestry of adventures and tales among people from different cultures and backgrounds.

Of course, it’s purely fiction yet the subplots within the primary plot are based in real life stories from real people.

Most of the plots in my novel were gathered from the hundreds of gatherings I’ve attended and conversations with many different people I’ve met along the way.

Some of the characters' discoveries, beliefs, and frustrations were partly my own but most of them were from others who willingly shared their heartaches and joys as they talked about their own experience while going through their unpredictable, rough yet wonderful journey in America.

My developmental editor Mai Malby who guided me in writing “Fobolous” was a huge part in making the novel's story dreamy yet grounded. She was the one who told me to:

  • Describe settings in the story vividly so she can imagine what it feels like to go around Houston and nearby cities as if she could actually experience them.

  • When I tended to be biased, she told me to give my characters both strengths and weaknesses, positive and negative attributes, and find a sense of balance.

  • Resolve the conflicts.

For those who already read my novel, there was a particular dark - or uninspired - time in my writing that made one of my characters slip through the cracks but thanks to my editor, we were able to save the character by rewriting the plot.

Remember the lovable Wooly?

I almost took him to the dark side, y’all.

Let me share a snippet here.

"On our way to the table, I was surprised to see Wooly and Anh talking by the big door at the social hall’s front entrance. It seemed like Anh was only dropping by and not intending to come in. But then I noticed her delicate hand holding Wooly’s arm as they talked. I thought that was strange. All of a sudden, I had a flash back of what I discovered at the office last night. When James and I were looking for the first aid kit to treat my mild burn, I passed by Anh’s desk. I thought I saw Wooly’s picture in a pretty silver frame sitting on the young designer’s desk. It was surrounded by binders and seemed strategically hidden from view. I didn’t know if I could deal with another immoral relationship in the family. I promised to set aside a few hours to talk to Wooly after the party."

Noooo. Right? That's what I said, too.

This plot tried to make the cut but thankfully didn't.

If you’ve just started writing your novel or book, keep track of what goes on in the process – your own collection of behind-the-scenes – as part of your journey as a writer.

One day, you may want to share them with your readers or just keep them handy to perk you up for a good laugh when you’re stressing about your deadlines and other writing bummers.

Click here to take a peek inside my novel FOBOLOUS.

Rainne Mendoza. 2016

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Copyright © 2019 FOBOLOUS by Rainne Mendoza