So, yet again, I’ve had several thoughts of possible blog post topics over the course of the week, and even had words flow through my mind that I could have shared. Just not when I had the time to sit down to do it. And when I had the time to sit down, my mind drew a blank… or, the passion was gone. And I’m not much good at topical blog posts when the passion is gone…
Thankfully, though, I was once again tagged in the “My Writing Process” blog hop by Kat Hawthorne and, since I’m onto a “new” project since last time, I thought I may as well. So now I have something to post!
I prefer doing personal posts to scheduled info-only posts… but I have limited writing time, so I tend to prefer to use that writing time to actually do writing of some sort. Excuses, always excuses.
Anyway… in the name of doing a more personal blog post, here is my writing process at this moment in time…
1. What are you currently working on?
I am currently “between books”, but they’re in the same series so it’s not exactly down-time. Beta Readers are checking out WARRIOR’S TOUCH (the follow on from HEALER’S TOUCH) for me, and I’m pondering my plans for MAGICIAN’S TOUCH (the last of the series). I’m also considering an entry for a NZ-wide short story competition which has first prize far bigger than any money I’ve made off my novels so far… but my head has been in these novels so long I’m struggling to find an idea for it, so far… sigh.
Right, so, at this moment, I’m pondering what adjustments need to be made to WT based on the feedback I have received so far (with more expected in, so I’m not racing to make changes yet), and what issues I need to cover in MT so I can shape the rest of the story around that.
For the time-being, it’s mostly pondering and little writing as — as tends to happen — things are crazy at work again, meaning longer hours for me and less time alone to ponder, think, daydream and, you know, actually write anything.
2. How does your work differ from other works in this genre?
What did I say last time?
I’m not very good at this bit, because when we say we’re “different”, we’re meant to imply “better”. and I really don’t know about that.
Well, basically, I write with one goal in mind: to feel (and hopefully get the reader feeling ) something, whether that’s sorrow, joy, fear, icky, anger, love, loathing… but I’m sure many authors share the same goal, so…
All right, I give up. I’m just going to quote myself:
Probably the easiest way to answer this is to look at what my work is like… When I began HT, my goal was to write a book that would affect me the way David Eddings’ Balgariad and Malloreon had. I think the big thing about those books versus many other epic fantasy novels is how they were written: in Near 3rd-person POV. So, I chose that style as well. I see it becoming more popular, though.
The next thing I found I liked in my favourite books by authors such as Iain Banks, Terry Pratchett and, later (after starting my own writing) Joe Abercrombie, was how they could look at a situation from all sides of the argument. Yes, one side could be clearly “right” and another clearly “wrong”, but these authors will have you questioning your opinions at times. It can make the writing hard, sometimes, not knowing if your “good guys” are really right and your “bad guys” really wrong, but it’s fun, too.
And, finally, I have enjoyed reading over and over (and over and over and over…) books like Beautiful Lies by Lisa Unger and Cross Stitch/Outlander by Diana Gabaldon because, well, I am a woman and sometimes us ladies like to dream about a certain kind of man…
And so, I write fantasy, which is often known for its distant narration, and I try to get the reader as close to the action as my writing ability allows. And I write fantasy, which is traditionally known for its black and white heroes and villains, and I try to create a somewhat sympathetic “bad guy” and a somewhat imperfect “good guy”. And I write fantasy, which doesn’t often cater to the female reader in certain respects, and I try to introduce a little bit of sexy in amongst all the grit.
3. Why do you write what you do?
Well, HT started as a time-passer… back when I had time to pass. So, I started writing something that I would like to read (and I really wish I could without picking it apart, because apparently it’s quite good). Eventually I realised how much fun I was having and that it’d be even more fun if I challenged myself to shape this fledgling story into a full novel… There have been several times since when I have asked myself “Why?”, but here I am… still going.
As mentioned last time, I write with a goal to fall in love with the characters. That was the first thing that really happened with HT… I fell in love with Llew and Jonas and I just knew I had to tell their story, whatever form it ended up taking, it had to be told. So, I was free to make adjustments to make sure the story worked as a novel. The only rule was that it got told…
I also said last time that I’ve fallen for Anya… this is true. She wasn’t meant to be much more than a plot device in HT, but by the time I started WT, she had settled.
4. How does your writing process work?
I’m still very much a learner, so it changes every time. And will no doubt change when I start my next book, too.
HT was a discovery tale. I write to find out about the characters and story. WT was slightly more structured. Ideas about what needed to be covered in WT came to me while I was writing HT, so I began with a loose structure of events in mind. There was still some discovery involved, and a good deal of re-writing required to refine it to where it is now. It still needs some to be ready for the big wide world, but I think it is nearly ready!
With MT, I’ll be brainstorming to start with. My characters have all got themselves to a certain point, and now it’s time to finish the tale. So, I’ll be thinking about character-arcs still to play out, what new information can be delved into and solved, what unanswered questions I must sort out, and how to keep the story exciting and satisfying. I’m hoping I can start with a fairly good idea of how the story will go before I sit down to write this time (I thought I did with WT, too). I’d love to get this story written and out into the world asap… maybe early next year?
My writing process is all about fitting it around “real life”. With a 3 (nearly 4) year old, I can’t just say “This is my writing time, don’t disturb me”. Also, my writing space is in the dining room, so there is no shutting myself away, even if I do have childcare. Yes, I have a husband, but he is also busy, so I am primary child carer most days of the week. My son does go to kindy, but I have a part-time job… you know how it goes. My writing process is all about finding a balance between doing what needs doing and getting writing done. Sometimes it’s a less than happy balance, but I’ve survived so far! Dreams keep me going.
Oh, hey… again, I like what I said last time, so:
I do tend to start with a fairly loose outline, basically made up of what I expect to be the “plot points” (if you study story structure, you’ll know these… if you don’t, happily remain ignorant and just enjoy the stories!). Then I’ll just write, usually finding my muse helpful in coming up with fun and exciting scenes to get me going. Eventually, it all becomes work and making the story satisfying to readers other than me becomes more important. That’s when I’ll reassess the structure and decide how much of my initial writing gets to stay as-is, where-is. It’s never a waste, because the “free writing” discovers things my analytical a to b to c brain could never come up with.
I’m a plotster… I plot and write by the seat of my pants. Both methods can lead me wrong, and both methods can help immensely. Last year, my WT outline led me down the wrong path and I didn’t listen to my gut instinct until a lot later, hence me still working on it. But I know an outline is important in giving the story direction.
Well, that’s me.
I’m so excited to be nearing the time where I unleash WT on the world… That will be a true test of what I’m capable of. I mean, if I can keep the readers who enjoyed HT happy, and maybe even impress some of the readers who thought HT didn’t quite hit… then I’ve done what I hope to do: I’ve improved as a writer. The people who outright don’t like HT won’t like WT, so that’s fine, I’m not worried about them.
I think that is why I love writing: because I’ll never be an expert. All I can do is start from scratch and hope to do at least as well as the time before. And that can be measured in so many ways: the story concept, the characters and their development, the structure, the language… so many things to tweak, improve on, or fail at…
So my writing process? DO BETTER NEXT TIME
All right, time to introduce my nominees for the next round of this Writing Process Blog Hop.
And, my nominees are both very talented, multi-genre writers: