My writing process: 4 questions, from Barrett

Posted by: Barrett on Aug 4 2014, 3:36 pm in , , , ,

 

I’m delighted and honored that the irrepressible Jody —one of the bright new stars in the Bedazzled TOTS Brigade—chose me. (Look for her new book, Empath soon)

 

On with the questions.

1. WHAT AM I WORKING ON?

At the moment, I am working on revisions to book 3 of the Damaged series, Dispatched With Cause. After books 1 and 2, Damaged in Service and Defying Gravity, I needed a mental-health break and worked on a brand-new romance, Balefire.

The Damaged series was started in 2009. At the time, the story manifested so quickly, I could hardly keep up let alone worry about grammar or punctuation. That was a painful mistake that I am still correcting.

After some wonderful editorial coaching on my earlier works, I needed to make some signification changes to the third book in the series. In addition to cosmetic changes, I wanted to amp up the tension since this is the third book of four, it needs to produce a major turning point.

Now that I have pushed Zeke and Anne to another new challenge, I will begin work on revising book four.

 

2.   HOW DOES MY WORK DIFFER FROM OTHERS IN THE SAME GENRE?

I guess I would say that the major difference is the story arc, which is deliberately written over a span of four books.  I envisioned the story like a television drama. It would be an end to season with a cliffhanger, then resume with the next season. Evidently, that’s not how commercial fiction is written. Who knew?

If you read the series, you’ll know that cliff-hanger was not a popular option for many of the lesfic community. They wanted HEA – happily ever after, as well as all the loose ends tied neatly.

I radically changed the story in book 2, but needed to keep the storyline intact. (Note: writing “by committee” is not the wisest direction.)

I consider this series romantic intrigue. However, that wouldn’t describe each individual book. Yet there are strong elements of both romance/love and intrigue in all.

 

3.   WHY DO I WRITE WHAT I DO?

 

Like many others, I write the kinds of books I want to read. And in fact, it’s one of the things that make it difficult for me to read them critically. Almost every time I start to don my editing cap, I get caught up in my characters lives and don’t see the minutia. It makes me lousy editor. But…a good reader!

Recently I had this discussion with a friend and told her that I enjoy writing romance because I want to learn to be a better writer. I want to learn the craft by reading and writing stories that resonate with so many people.

When I’m ready, I have at least three books in my head that will be much closer to literary fiction. In the meantime, there are at least three or four manuscripts already written that I want to revise and submit.

And besides, I can’t NOT write.

 

4.   HOW DOES MY WRITING PROCESS WORK?

Glad they saved this one until last.

I would best be described as an imaginative, unrepentant, undisciplined, procrastinating Panster (someone who writes from the proverbial Seat of her pants). This is the polar opposite of a plotter (someone who lays out a foundation with a plan, notes, and or an outline.) I attended a conference with a very successful plotter who brought her outline in the form of an excel spread sheet 12 feet long!

At that moment I feared that I just didn’t have the fortitude to become a writer. But, at some point, I realized my strong suit was story-telling. I come from a long line of Gaelic story tellers.

Most of the stories I’ve created initially character driven, so I begin by creating the individuals around whom the story will grow. For the purpose of this blog I’ll use Balefire is an example.

I scoured several name lists to find Kirin Foster and Silke Dyson. I made up birthdays and did horoscopes on each woman, including their compatibility.  I threw them into an actual situation based on a true story to see what would happen. I knew I wanted a Romance that was fairly uncomplicated. (Insert snickering)

I transported each woman to the airport. Coincidently, both left from the Milwaukee airport, where their paths did not cross. During this process, I found out who the secondary characters were. I also learned some of the back story.

Each scene unfolded moment-by-moment depending on whose point of view I was writing from. If it was Silke’s point of view, everything was painted with a level of anxiety, resignation, and her visual disability.

When I was with Kirin, I became a type A impatient, irritated, and disconnected frequent traveler.

Voila! The scene is set and I just need to navigate my two characters through it. The rest comes from my own history of traveling the same route, from the same airports, with the same conditions. The only thing I needed to change was the point of view. Then add to the mix a circus-trunk full of imagination.

One scene begets the next scene. For me, it’s linear and organic. I don’t create scenes independently and try to fit them into the story. On rare occasions, when I have been asked to move the scene or event to another part of the story, it’s been incredibly difficult, because each piece of the story is built on the information provided by previous blocks.

I have tried outlining a new story first, and I’m stopped at the gate. My brain just doesn’t work that way. I can use the structure to evaluate AFTER the story-line is written.

The downside of the linear approach is breaking the scenes and chapters into manageable pieces, while still keeping the reader turning the pages. I like to take breaks 😉

The upside? I love to makeup stories and then “Spackle” them with ambiance and emotion. It’s been fifteen years since I started writing the Epic Medical Mystery with 22 characters and 6 subplots, all from a singular omniscient narrator.

Thanks for stopping by!   I’d be interested if anyone has questions, please share.

 

 

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Write The Book Of Your…Gut

Posted by: Sierra Woods on Oct 28 2012, 9:41 am in , , , , , , , , , , , ,

So, we’ve all heard the phrase and have been encouraged to Write The Book Of Your Heart. We’ll I’m suggesting you kick that in the pants and write the boot of your gut. Every time I’ve tried to write the book of my heart it always turned out nice and sweet, but no one wanted to buy it.

I wanted to be published! Why wasn’t my book of the heart being accepted and joyously received by the throngs of my as-yet-unfound agent and editor? Cause it was a piece of crap, that’s why! I had many books I really wanted to write, ideas brewed in my brain and my brain decided that that was the one book which was going to get me published.

For me, the idea of writing the book of my heart was great. It was what every pacifist loves. No one will be offended by what I have to say in the book, everyone will love it, we’ll all get along and everyone will be happy reading my little middle-of-the-road-sitting-on-the-fence books and the world will keep spinning the right direction.

Well, that didn’t happen. (extreme sarcasm here)

Every manuscript I adored was rejected. This is a business and sometimes a brutal one. My ego was bruised, and I took a break a couple of times, but I wasn’t ready to quit. So I changed tactics and researched an area I have expertise in and found an editor (luckily) who could work with my manuscript and turn it into something she could sell. That wasn’t my book of the heart, but I had 9 books published. Essentially, it was work for hire because the control and direction of the stories was no my own, which didn’t inspire me to write great stories.

What did?

When I found myself standing in front of the TV yelling at the reporter who was blandly telling us about a woman who had been missing and then found dead a few days later. The trail led right back to a family member who had been stealing her money for drugs.

That’s just not fair! It’s not right! That woman deserves to come back from the dead and kick the ass of the person who killed her.

I paused, mid-yell.

Well, now. Wasn’t that interesting? I’d inadvertently found something I cared deeply about and wanted to put into my stories: justice.

Justice strikes a very deep, emotional and visceral tone within me. Truth. Fairness. Equality. Doing the right thing. These are all things that are very important to me. So I decided to write the book of my gut, the idea that made me stand up and yell at the TV because it wasn’t fair and this woman deserved some sort of universal justice.

That’s when the first book in The Resurrectionist series was created. I wrote that 80,000 story in 30 days working 3-4 hours per day. Of course it needed work, but the framework of it just flew out my fingertips like no other story I’d ever written. I don’t say that to be boastful or arrogant, but to inspire you to find the right story for yourself. Nothing I’d yet written had flowed so well, so I just let ‘er rip. Cuss words. Irreverent humor. Outrageous sex. A kick-ass heroine who had had her own trials, but was in the process of creating a new life for herself when she’d been given no choice.

When I finished it, I knew that this book was special for me. This book was going to help me get me an agent and it did. It also finaled in a contest and as a result, the Sr. Editor bought the book. I’m moving from the writing books that didn’t inspire me all that much to working on stories that come from my gut.

So I’m suggesting that if you’re having trouble discovering the great books within you, dig deep and find out what moves you. Write down the things that are important to you. What makes you stand up and yell at the TV? That’s what you should write about. That is the book of your gut.

So, come on people, let’s hear from you. What gets your visceral value system in an uproar and makes you yell at your TV?

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