Monday, May 5, 2014
Writing Process Blog Tour
What am I working on at the moment?
At present I'm almost halfway through the first draft of a children's historical fantasy, an idea which surprised me greatly since I've literally never written fantasy of any kind. I've also been doing some note-taking and outlining for a Western which is slated to be my next project, I think.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Some reviews of my books have said (meaning it positively, thank goodness) that my writing has an old-fashioned feel, like it could have been written at the time the story is set. I think this is probably true, because so much of what I've learned about writing has come from immersing myself in the literature of days past. That's not to say I wallow in flowery prose; I appreciate the value of good crisp, concise writing as much as anyone. But I'm not afraid to use the longer words or longer sentences or more old-fashioned forms of expression when I need them, and I think that's what makes my style a bit unique.
Speaking of Westerns in particular, as the genre that I have a special fondness for, I think my stories are a little different because I nearly always begin with a focus on the characters and the human story at the root of the plot, rather than the action-based conventions of the genre: the gunfight, the chase, etc. Now very frequently I do use one or more of those familiar elements at some point and enjoy it; I've no objection to that! But the root of the story is usually character-driven.
Why do I write what I do?
Put in its simplest form—because I love it. I've always loved history, and loved both reading and writing stories in a historical setting. There's no unifying mission or message to my body of work as a whole, other than the desire to tell a good story and do the best work that I can. Each individual story has its own life and I have a different vision for each one.
How does my writing process work?
When I get an idea that I think would make a good story, I start by jotting down a brief sketch of it in one of what I call my note-taking notebooks. I let it stew in my mind for a little while, and scribble down pages full of plot points, scraps of dialogue, etc. (For a more detailed look at what a page in my note-taking notebooks generally looks like, go here.) For anything longer than a short story, once I accumulate enough material I usually write out a rough outline. Once I feel ready to actually start, I write my first drafts by hand (I actually print rather than writing in cursive—it comes easier somehow) in a college-ruled notebook.
The next step is typing out the draft, and I do a whole lot of my editing in the process. My handwritten drafts are usually full of suggestions for alternate phrasing squeezed between lines or scribbled in the margins, so here's where I decide which versions to use! Once I've got the second draft in a state where I'm ready to show it to someone, I typically give it to several family members to read, and then take a break from it for a while. For later edits I often print out a copy to mark up, then apply the changes on the computer; and repeat the last few steps as necessary till I'm finally satisfied with it.
The Writing Process Blog Tour will continue next Monday over at Rachel Heffington's blog, so be sure and stop by there!