Well, I was tagged in this blog challenge by not one, but two lovely ladies: Amber J. Keyser, my oft-partner-in-crime and a devilishly talented writer, and Lauren Spieller, a recently-agented author and spectacular friend. So, without further ado:
1. What am I working on?
For reasons, I am revisiting my middle grade novel, Gryphon. Gryphon is an epic fantasy starring a princess, an orphan, gryphons, and even a dragon. It’s that kind of book!
I’m also in the trenches plotting a new novel, but I’m not ready to talk about it just yet. However, I can tell you it will be YA (I’m returning to my roots!) and it’ll have a retro 1920s sci-fi feel. The mood of the story really captured me and I’m so psyched to start telling it!
2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?
A lot of the middle grade floating around out there right now is humorous, whimsical, and bordering on silly, even in the fantasy realm. And don’t get me wrong–I like my fair share of whimsical. But I personally write in a more serious style in fantasy, á la Leviathan. I’m a swords-and-sorcery kind of girl.
3. Why do I write what I do?
I’ve always been a voracious fantasy reader. As a kid, I ate up the feeling of faux reality that fantasy gives–that feeling of knowing it’s fantasy, knowing it’s not our world, but living inside it as if it was for the short time the book lasts. That suspension of disbelief as you ride on a dragon in The Dragonriders of Pern is addicting.
I think I wrote my very first fantasy story at age six, where my hero lived in a world of talking rocks and mischievous fairies. And frankly, what I write these days isn’t much different.
Every kid plays make believe, but not every kid grows out of it. I love children’s books because I don’t have to grow out of it. I get to still play make believe, and I get to still be a little girl exploring a strange new world. I can still fly on dragons and be a princess or a prince if I want, all in the stories I tell.
4. How does my writing process work?
One word: Obsessive. It’s taken me a while to realize this about myself. I’ll stop writing for weeks at a time if I don’t have a project I’m obsessed with–and as soon as I have something that ignites my passion, I literally cannot stop. I’ve had to learn to watch for that oncoming sensation (the idea-ignition), and make sure my pile of tinder is ready when it hits. Cancel all plans. Go away for the weekend. Put a DO NOT DISTURB sign on my door.
Whatever it takes to give myself over to a story when it takes hold of me.
In terms of actual process, I usually start with a short synopsis–I scribble down the images I have about the story (usually I’ll have a picture in my head that I can’t shake with tone, mood, and character) and how I see the plot unfolding. Sometimes I’ll write some exploratory text–usually the beginning or the end of the story–to get a better feel for the underlying themes I want to explore and how I can accomplish that with the plot and the style.
Then, I use the Snowflake Method. I try to condense the story into 5 sentences; then expand each sentence into a paragraph (leaving me with 5 paragraphs). Sometimes I’ll even expand portions of that, and then in Scrivener, I divide it up into sections, chapters, or parts, and attach the expanded outline I’ve written into the “Synopsis” area. I’ll look for holes, patch them up, move pieces around, and as soon as possible, start writing. I often continue to shape, move, and clip my outline as I go along.
I could only get one poor soul to participate in this blog challenge with me, and that person is (obviously) my wonderful friend and brainstorming colleague, Eddy Rivas. He’ll be posting his bit tomorrow on his own writing process, which will blow your mind. Seriously, this guy writes three books a year. You want to know his writing process.