Today is part of a blog hop, likely the last one I’ll do this year. I don’t usually participate in blog hops, but the topic of this one is very relevant to this blog’s content, so I decided to join in.
This tour shares an author’s writing process and you can follow it back or forward, wherever your heart takes you. Marlene Moss, a fellow writer and devout equestrian, tagged me last month during the April Blogging A to Z Challenge, which is where we met. You can visit her blog and Writing Process post here.
I am currently in the midst of several projects, though I only have one full-length novel in progress. This WIP is a desert-based realistic fantasy. It is about a 14-year-old slave bride and her journey to save herself mentally and bodily as civil war breaks out around her. Despite the age of the main character, I wouldn’t class this story as a Young Adult book.
The rest are short stories of varying subjects, including a sci-fi novella serial called D.N.A., in which a futuristic super heroine must combat a culture and society that increasingly classes its citizens based on the D.N.A. (natural and artificial) they hold. The story’s heroine, Alta, is probably one of my favorite characters out of the ones I’ve created recently. She’s strong, intelligent, and a bit awkward. Most importantly, for me, is that the story, while dealing with many scenes and areas that would typically be sexualized for a female heroine, steadfastly rejects turning her into a sex object. I am also writing her to represent the LGBT community in the super hero sub-genre of books.
The last story I’m working on at present is a short story called “The Lady Koi”, which is to be included in a charity anthology project coming out later this year. The anthology is Darkly Never After, and I’m really excited to be a part of it. I got to design the cover, and was asked to write the back blurb. “The Lady Koi” takes a look at the classical relationship between heroes and the devils they kill and flips it on its head, offering a sympathetic look into the lives of demons that are murdered for the sake of notoriety.
I would like to say that my writing differs a great deal from others in my genre, but I think that it would be impossible to say so with a straight face. What I can say for certain is that readers can expect my work to hardly ever be Arthurian-based fantasy, as I enjoy Asian, Hindu, African, and Mexican elements in my stories far more than any European-like settings.
In addition, even though I write an equal number of male and female leads in my stories, women will always be active players in the stories. I’ve read too many books where the women were no more than placeholders for conflict, or lost all of their agency after falling in love to ever write those kinds of things into my work.
Finally, as I’ve mentioned in my bio, I write primarily character-driven fantasy, but I love speculative fiction and science fiction as well. I also love writing non-erotica LGBT fiction (it never seems there’s enough of that around). Basically, I use the medium required to tell the story, but my mood errs on psychological and sociological over extreme action or humor.
I write what I write because I have a lot of stories to tell. However, a lot of what I write is actually personal, and I have no intention of publishing a good majority of it. So, I guess the reason I write what I write for readers is that I think, somehow, the story has something that others can connect with and appreciate. Certainly, it’s a story that I feel is solid, and I can be proud to share with others.
So, here’s the thing: I probably have the most inefficient and ridiculous writing process on the planet. Probably. Stating absolutes is usually in line with issuing a challenge, so I’m sure I’ll hear some interesting stuff in the comments about others’ processes.
Basically, if I start at the very beginning of my process, that is, the idea phase, I would say that it goes something like this:
- Consider the main message of the story. (What am I trying to say?)
- Build a main set of characters to interact with each other.
- Build the plot around #1 and #2
- Find problem in plot, start over.
- Find problem in plot, start over. (Again!)
- Start writing.
- Revise first paragraph upwards of twenty times until the proper tone and pacing of the entire story is achieved. (I can not rush this process. In short stories, I must get the first paragraph completely correct until I can move on. I know there are a lot of schools of thought out there that warn against “editing as you go”, but for me, this isn’t the same thing: I am actively priming my mind and words for the correct angle, which is very hard to correct without complete rewrites in the second and third draft.)
- Plod along, 500-600 words at a time. (I’m not a pantser, and I’m definitely not the kind of person who can throw out 2,000 words or more a day and not feel completely tapped out the next day. I’m hoping that my stamina will improve over time, but I just don’t think I’m built for it. I completed NaNoWriMo in 2012, but it took me over three months to recover!) But, that’s okay, because….
- Edit twice. (The editing process, especially for a short story, is likely the easiest part for me. I do very little rewriting once I’ve figured out that first page, and my editing phase is more to check for basic mechanics, like passive voice, spelling errors, and word choices (for proper alliteration and feeling).
- Find courage. Ask for a beta. (Time willing, I usually ask someone to read it, and wait with baited breath for their response. I enjoy complete honesty in my betas, and don’t require any sort of ‘good comments’ sandwiching the bad, but the anxiety of the wait is still there. Also, I just really don’t like asking people for favors.)
- Fine-tuning. (This is usually the point where I read, or have my computer read, my story out loud, to hear it and make sure the words all flow the way I want them to. Like a pebble in the shoe, if I find a syllable or strange string of sounds all bunched together, I can’t let a passage rest until its fixed.)
- Publish! (And then never, ever read it again.)
So, yeah, that’s my writing process! I hope it was interesting or insightful, especially for my fellow writers reading.
I’m tagging three wonderful people to continue this blog hop for me. Be sure to check out their blogs next week:
A J Hawkins lives in Norwich, UK, with his wife and “two beastilicious moggies”. He wrote the book, Falling, which I read last year. It’s a powerful, speculative science fiction with a love story at its core. A J and I also belong to the same fiction blog (Out of Print), as well as Fiction Writers Group, where we met.
J.W. Martin is another talented author that I’ve had the pleasure to meet through Fiction Writers Group, and I’ve read several of his works, including his first novel (which I’d actually picked up on a whim before I’d even met him). J.W. is a Canadian, and his first novel is Secrets of Retail, a fun, contemporary fiction about a guy down on his luck with women and work, and his philosophies on customer service and the whole retail industry.
Donna A. Leahey is the author of one of my favorite stories from the eco-horror anthology I edited last year for Chupa Cabra House, “The Wisteria”. She’s got a great sense of humor, and also contributes on the blog Purple Ink Writers regularly.