I was tagged in this blog hop by the fabulous Megan La Follett, and I thought it could be a fun way to spend Tuesday. I don’t often write about writing over here anymore, so I thought this could be a fun departure. Or a throwback to how this blog began? Sure. Take your pick!
Either way, no, this isn’t an April Fool’s joke. Consider it a missed opportunity. I could have told you I only write my stories longhand with a quill dipped in aged cat urine.
1) What are you currently working on?
I’ve just finished up copy edits on THE MASKED SONGBIRD, so this month for Camp NaNoWriMo I’ll be working on drafting the sequel. My goal is to get a first draft completely finished so I can get it to my betas mid-May and be ready well ahead of deadline. Where THE MASKED SONGBIRD deals with protagonist Gwen Maule’s choices both for herself and for her country, the sequel will deal with consequences, good and ill. I’m really excited to be back in Gwen’s head and to revisit familiar characters as well as introduce some new ones.
Apart from that, I’m also in the early stages of an epic fantasy that has been an absolute joy to work on so far. I’ve wanted to get back into writing epic fantasy since I put down my first ever novel attempt in high school, and when an idea hit me this winter, I ran with it.
2) How does your work differ from others in the genre?
I wanted to write a superhero novel that was about someone with superpowers discovering the heroism that comes from humanity. More Dark Knight Bruce Wayne than golden age Clark Kent, even though her powers are formidable. In all my work, I like to explore grey areas and the lines people cross in their own morality, as well as the choices they make that come to define them.
Also, as Donald Maass pointed out at a conference, there aren’t a ton of UF protagonists with mundane office jobs, and my lead characters tend to have just that. Gwen’s an accountant and another works in PR. A lot tend to be bounty hunters or PIs, and I wanted to explore something else. This isn’t to say I don’t love stories where the protagonist is a bounty hunter or a PI (I’m a sucker for Kim Harrison and Laurell K. Hamilton), but I like the idea of people still dealing with the daily grind even if they have nightly escapades.
3) Why do you write what you write?
When I was growing up, I was frustrated by the fact that I didn’t get to see girls or women doing awesome things that much. Princess Peach was always twiddling her thumbs in another castle, fellow preschoolers wouldn’t let me be a Ninja Turtle because I was a giiiiirl, and the narrative I heard outside my home was that girls were weak and pink and boring. (Pink doesn’t have to be boring, but I never really liked it that much. Though I did pretend to, because I wanted to fit in. True story.) Even with the advent of She-Ra and the Power Rangers and finally Buffy, I wasn’t seeing as much of it as I wanted to. So I decided the best way to see stories of girls and women saving the world was to write them myself.
4) How does your process work?
I used to be a die-hard pantser. Or so I thought. But two books in, I was struggling with editing and rewriting things that were almost broken, and I finally decided to sit down and learn structure. That formed the rudiments of plotting for me, learning where the major plot points needed to be to support a novel-length work and learning by doing that I could write remarkably quickly when I had those lynchpins in place. I’ve never looked back.
Now, I get an idea, scribble it down, then plunk it down at a table and ask it questions. I flesh out who’s story it is and who is working against them and why. I spend a lot of time with my antagonising forces because they are the only reason stories happen. The protagonist may be the hero, but the antagonist is the reason why. I figure out where the story starts and why. I figure out what the turning points are. What information is revealed and how. What the stakes are and why. Somewhere in this process I’ll sit down and write the first paragraph or chapter. My first lines tend to pop into my head unbidden, and I run with them when they happen, but I won’t go much farther until I have a clear goal.
I’m not a full outliner most of the time, but I have found myself compiling a beat sheet of sorts that helps me get from A to Z. I tend to write bare bones and then come back through and flesh things out, so instead of the Stephen King method of overwriting and trimming by 10-15%, I tend to write sparse and fill in later, then decide if anything is unnecessary.
Now I get to pester other bloggers about their processes…haven’t done that in a while. Hmmm.