I was supposed to have this posted on Monday, but life got in the way as life is wont to do, so I’m a bit behind with all things internet.
D.Emery Bunn kindly nominated me for the writing process blog tour. If you’re the sort of writer who likes in-depth analysis of certain writing or editing aspects, then his blog has a wealth of information. He typically posts quality advice about the writing process itself — how to approach scenes, how to edit one’s own work, how to world-build (to name a few general topics). You can find him here: www.demerybunn.com.
The writing process itself is an interesting subject since it so widely differs from person to person. I’m convinced that no two writers write the same way. If you’re curious about how my process works, then here it goes:
What am I working on at the moment?
That depends on the day. Overall, I’m working on one novel that I’d classify as ‘literary’ speculative fiction, though that term is largely debatable, and another novel that is probably a run-of-the-mill fantasy. There’s a sci-fi novel in the works, too, but I hesitate to say that I’m really working on it. I’m also writing a collection of poems and putting my abused, over-edited short story back together again.
How does my work differ from other of its genre?
I’m not sure it does. It’s probably not for me to say. This begs the question: “What is genre?” My speculative fiction novel could be classified as sci-fi since the story takes place on Mars. But the story itself is character-centered and setting-specific. The plot is mostly mental. It lacks a lot (most) of the expected action of mainstream sci-fi/fantasy, so perhaps it differs in that regard.
In general, most of my work is character-focused rather than plot-driven. My characters must overcome the everyday issues we face as humans in a setting that we don’t see every day. I write what I want to read, after all. Nothing is more powerful or moving than the internal journeys of well-developed characters.
Why do I write what I do?
I opt for settings or worlds that are not necessarily our world because they offer the most freedom for exploration. I often feel restricted by the modern, physical Earth as I know it, so this is my way of asking, “What if?” Since I’m a future-focused person in general (I’m always looking forward), sci-fi works well for my creativity. When I get to create a fantasy world, the options seem limitless. I like the challenge of writing something into existence that exists no where but in my head.
How does my writing process work?
I’m not sure it does work. I have trouble finishing things. In general though, I feel the spark of an idea forming and start writing parts of it down (usually in the margins of class notebooks during lectures). I usually have one scene with the main character clearly formed in my head, so I start asking Wh-questions: Who? What? When? Why? It’s important for me to know the characters as soon as possible, so I flesh them out as best as I can before I start observing their environment. Sometimes I need to know their names before I’ll even consider the plot.
When I’ve figured out the backbone of the story, I’ll start writing it. Just to get a feel for how the characters interact with the environment and with one another. I rarely, if ever, outline, but I do typically know where the story is going (at least a general direction). I have “milestone scenes” that I know I need to reach. The why and the how of getting to those scenes, however, is always a surprise.
Most of my story planning, overall writing process, and characterizations transpire in my head. I spend a lot of time searching for the right feel of the story. I write by sound. When I’m in flow, the sound of the words in my head is like a pulse or a beat of music. When I hit a wrong ‘note’ (word), it sounds off-key, and I’ll actually edit and change it until I get the rhythm back. I hear and feel the words more than I read or see them. If that makes sense. This a huge part of my process and probably the most important aspect for me as a writer.
Per the terms of the tour, I’m supposed to nominate three other writers. But the writers I would have normally nominated have already participated, and I don’t actually know (personally) a lot of fiction writers; therefore, I’m breaking the rules. Next week you can expect a post from the wise Robyn LaRue. She has spent a lot of time studying the writing process — her own and the processes of others — so here’s a little bit more about her:
Though her primary passions are writing and mentoring writers, Robyn LaRue is also a quilter, potter, glass fusionist, amateur house designer, wife, mother, grandmother, and simple-living advocate. She writes fiction and non-fiction with the help of coffee, chocolate, and toast. Her characters are often on the cusp of life changes and live in literary, YA, and women’s fiction novels. She is currently preparing to publish her debut novel, Shadows Wake. She can be found at her website www.robynlarue.com or on twitter @thewritinghabit.