Wednesday, April 9, 2014

My Writing Process

A special notebook made for me
by my beautiful and talented
goddaughter.
Or whatever passes for it.

Today's post comes courtesy of authors Kate Larkindale and Jolene Perry. (Be sure to check out their sites and their books!) Kate tagged me in the Writing Process Bloghop that's been making its way around the blogosphere while Jolene posted a similar themed post on her blog yesterday that I decided would compliment the first nicely.

And since I'm pretty terrible at talking about...well, everything, I thought I should welcome the opportunity to practice talking about writing and how I do what I do.

Whatever that is.

Shall we get started?


1. What are you working on?

I am working on publishing my epic-ish (sorry...still uncomfortable with the 'epic' label.) fantasy novel, Effigy, and completing the first draft of Effigy's sequel, Second Nature.

2. How does your work differ from others of its genre?

A lot—not all—of the stories in the fantasy genre tend to be plot-driven. I try to make my stories more character-driven because I do believe character is king. Nothing against plot, because heaven knows that's important too, but I'm a character-driven reader.

3. Why do you write what you do?

Well, I'm a fangirl obsessed with sarcasm, medieval weaponry, and bucking the establishment. Me writing what I do is probably just a given.

4. How does your writing process work?

Some would say it doesn't. But for a more detailed look at my writing process, please refer to the questions and answers below...


1. What genre do you write?

I write fantasy, urban fantasy, YA, romance, and literary. If it strikes my fancy, I'll give it a go. Someday I'd like to write a spy novel.

2. How many books have you written?

Jolene's number was 31, which is so insanely impressive that I am embarrassed by my paltry number. Which is 6. Unless you count the two installments of my fantasy series that have been started but are a long way off from finishing. Then it's 8. Wait—9. I forgot about that really crappy romance novel I wrote in college. It'll never see the light of day, but I did write it. So 9, then.

3. Are you published?

Not yet. But I just might change that later on this year. Unless I've totally just jinxed myself by saying so. D'oh!

4. How long do you let an idea "simmer" before you start writing?

I think that answer depends upon the project. Some things I can just jump right into, but others need a little more percolating.

5. How much pre-planning do you do in the form of outlines, character sketches, maps, etc.?

It used to be none, like seriously, none. I never really planned anything, just kind of jumped into the deep end and went for it. These days, however, I have trended toward more plotting than pantsing. I have a six foot storyboard in my office (if you're curious, you can check out a post devoted to the details of that storyboard HERE) which contains maps, charts, a family tree, and a color-coded calendar. I now also have a second storyboard claiming all three walls of my dining room.

The six-foot storyboard in my office

My dining room storyboard. I'm happy this room finally has
found a purpose. It's not like I ever used it for, you know,
dining or anything like that. That's what the living room is for.


6. If you use an outline, what type do you use?

I don't know if the dining room storyboard should be considered a proper outline, but it does outline the story for me—where it's been and where it's (supposed to be) headed. The little index cards on the dining room storyboard are color-coded too. Each POV character was assigned his or her own color so I can tell at a glance which character is supposed to be running any particular scene.


The above chart is where I'm currently at in Second Nature. The little pink post-its tell me which scenes are incomplete. The chart for chapters 25-26 has only two index cards on it right now—each listing an incomplete scene in its currently intended spot in the novel (But they'll likely end up moving. I find that happens a lot.) so I know where I'm aiming to go.

7. How many drafts do you usually go through before you're done?

I'd say three is probably average for me, but again, it really depends upon the project.

8. How long does it typically take you to write a first draft?

A long time. George R.R. Martin looked at me the other day and said, "Damn, girl, you write slow!" (please note: that is possibly not a true story. Though if George R.R. Martin and I did know each other, he probably would say that. Right before he handed me my restraining order.)

9. How long do revisions usually take you?

Please see above.

10. Are your revised drafts substantially different plot-wise from your first drafts?

Not usually, but in the case of Effigy, the answer is HELL, YES! The very first draft of the very first conception of this story is a long way away from where the final version has ended up. A lot of changes were made—for the better, of course. In fact, I would never, ever show anyone the very first draft of that story now because it's too embarrassing. The only way it'll ever see the light of day is if I were teaching English again and needed to make a point about the awesome power of revision. But, fortunately, that's not likely to happen.

And wow...I talked a lot today. Sorry about that, but I am finished now. If you made it all the way through to the end, I thank you for hanging in there. We at My Pet Blog salute you. And if you didn't quite make it, I thank you for trying. We at My Pet Blog salute you too.

At any rate...Have a great afternoon, everyone. Thanks for stopping by.

56 comments:

  1. Awesome notebook. Looks like she cut out each letter of your name. And what a great outline your dining room has become.

    Also, 9 novels? That's many more than me. I'd like to think I could've written a romance in college, only I didn't have much to write about. : p

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I didn't have much personal experience upon which to draw, but fortunately I had (have?) a vivid imagination. And decent cable...

      Delete
  2. Your storyboards are quite impressive.
    And nine stories written is good - don't be ashamed of that number.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Love the storyboards! We don't have an official dining room, just a dining area, and we don't even use that. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad I'm not alone in not using the dining room/area for its intended purpose. =)

      Delete
  4. Very cool learning more about your writing progress. And dining room storyboards works as a form of outlining! And nine novels is nothing to be ashamed of. That's more than I have written.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Fortunately, the question wasn't "how many novels have you published" because that would have been even more embarrassing. Snooki's ahead of me there.

      Delete
  5. I'm a character-driven reader, too, so I bet I'd love your stuff :) And holy storyboards, Batman! That's impressive!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, I love my storyboards. I'm such a geek that some days I just like looking at them.

      Delete
  6. I have a dining table that stores stuff. Why use the dining table? Trays in front of the TV work perfectly.

    Sounds like Effigy is going well. You'll publish soon, right. Still waiting to read it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My dining room table used to store stuff. Now my cats hang out on it. We don't have trays, though. We just use the coffee table.

      Effigy is with the formatter right now, so it's coming along. Slowly, but possibly surely. Eek.

      Delete
  7. I am shamed SHAMED by those storyboards of yours. That is way too organized. But for a work as long as yours, it's a must. I've just been creating a "story bible" as I go through on revisions, trying to keep it all straight. It's overwhelming how much there is to keep track of sometimes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I had a "story bible" type thing for a while, but it got to be too confusing for me. Having everything on the walls is working better. Even if it isn't the most traditional house decoration ever.

      Delete
  8. I am somewhat in awe of your storyboards!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Effigy is long past due to come out! I can't wait to see what's in those pages :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know...it's pathetic how long it's taken me to do this. I can only hope to learn and grow from this first book so that maybe the next one will go smoother.

      Delete
  10. Love the story board (and if you did have a dinner party in there, maybe people would add some interesting sticky notes of their own) and the handcrafted journal!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I did not react well to the idea of people adding their own notes to my storyboard. Apparently, I am very possessive.

      Delete
  11. Your storyboards are impressive! I'm such a pantser. If I wrote that much stuff about a book before I started writing, I'd never write the book.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Some of the storyboard stuff came before, but a lot of it during and after the writing. I've planned a pretty long series, so eventually probably everything will be planned out before I start the book. And then I'll promptly change it all. Because that's how I roll. =)

      Delete
  12. Whoa. I'm blown away by your organization. I'm still pantsing it myself. I laughed out loud at your George R.R. Martin comment!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There are days when I miss being a complete pantser, but I think for this particular project, being a plotter will work out better. But I'm a total pantser every November when I do NaNoWriMo.

      Delete
  13. You are very organized, and if that makes you laugh because you think otherwise, well, fine, you are very organized compared to me. =P

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I may be organized (or at least appear that way), but organization will only get you so far. Apparently.

      Delete
  14. Whoa... those story boards are awesome! I wish I had that sort of space available. And I'm a pantser. :-P

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There's a free online program called Trello that you can use to create a virtual storyboard. I have one of those, too, but I still love my physical boards.

      Delete
  15. I'm a character-driven reader as well, so I think it's great how you focus on that in the books you write!

    And whoa, I thought I was an intense plotter. You totally put me to shame! *stares in awe at storyboard*

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Didn't someone say somewhere along the way that we should write what we like to read? I don't know the exact quote, but it's always been my writing philosophy.

      Delete
  16. I am in awe of your storyboards. And your close, personal relationship with GRRM ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, I'm totally going to frame that restraining order! =)

      Delete
  17. That's an impressive storyboard! The studios use them for everything they do. Why not us writers? :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think they can work wonders—but that just might be me and how my brain functions.

      Delete
  18. We're close in # of books - I'm working on #8 - and wow your storyboard is amazing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Now I need to follow your fine example and actually do something with my books.

      Delete
  19. All of that is incredible, and having read what I have on your blog, I'm really looking forward to your fantasy novel. You have such a great personality and are fun to read.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Loni. That's incredibly kind of you.

      Delete
  20. The story about George RR Martin made me laugh out loud. Classic. I'm so impressed by your storyboards! And totally love the cutie in the pic with the one in your office. :)

    ReplyDelete
  21. I'm working on a Spy novel right now alongside my Urban Fantasy...its fun! And hey...my revisions always end up in very drastic changes o_0

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'd really love to write a spy novel sometime, but I just don't know that I have that ability. It would be a fun experiment, though.

      Delete
  22. I like the idea of interviewing yourself and it's always fascinating to discover how other people work!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think so, too. This bloghop has been a lot of fun to read. I'm happy to have participated.

      Delete
  23. Hey!
    Although funny at times, please don't trash yourself so much. I know we all do it sometimes but I want you to focus on the good things about yourself. You have so many.
    And, I've only written and complete 3 books. You are way ahead of me!
    Still think you're awesome.
    Heather

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for the incredibly kind sentiment. I don't feel particularly awesome these days—haven't for a long time now. I feel inept, so that's what I write.

      But I shall try to do better. =)

      Delete
  24. I want your board. Mine is tiny, itty bitty. I can only fit about five notes on it. I am in envy of your amazingly HUGE board. I think I will go back and stare in awe at it. (I also want your wall, because mine is too small for a board that size.)

    Nine novels is a lot, even if it isn't thirty one. Writing even one complete novel is an accomplishment and deserves chocolate. And tea. And a new book.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know I'm so fortunate to have the space for these boards. I don't know what I'll do if we ever have to move. Cry and throw a temper tantrum, probably. =)

      Delete
  25. okay - i enjoyed reading your process, classic MJ style!
    but now i have a short story brewing in my head about a sarcastic medieval maid who works as a dressmaker's assistant and has a talking dog sidekick - an anti-princess story. you totally inspired me!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I would totally read that story. Especially if the talking dog sidekick is sarcastic too...

      Delete
  26. I thought your answers were so honest and cool. I like how you are completely hard on yourself, when in reality you are so talented and unaware of it, because your posts has all of us glued to our seats and we always come back for more. Now just imagine what you're going to accomplish with your novel. You are super talented and i really hope you get to publish this year.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Wow that's one neat wall story line. Mine is a total mess :) Character-driven novels are a must, although you're right, plot does seem to rule fantasy sometimes.
    Loved reading this!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's possible I have a touch of OCD when it comes to my storyboards. I spend too much time making sure all the little index cards line up properly. And they still don't.

      Delete
  28. I just had to write about my writing process for a guest blog I'm doing. It was tough to do, since I'm not one to outline. I love seeing other people's processes, though. I tend to jump in and write the first few chapters, then realize I need to organize my thoughts and write a synopsis. Before that, I end up with a bunch of notes at the bottom of my manuscript, though, that I try to follow... "Try" being the operative word there.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 'Try' is always the operative word where I'm involved, too.

      Delete