My Writing Process
Hello blog-o-sphere peeps! So the lovely, bookish and sports enthusiast, Julie (twitter pal & freelance editor) tagged me for this blog tour, My Writing Process. Since I just spent the last year writing my book and the last 14 days writing straight, I figured, “why not?” It’s all fresh in my mind. Let’s get started! <~~~ I feel like a YouTuber all of a sudden. They all pretty much say that before…right. Off topic.
What am I working on?
I could reference my last post for this but I’ll just reiterate here. Since July 2013, after much contemplation, an idea for a book baby sparked after watching the movie, The Host. I say baby sparked because, though it fueled a few days of research, I placed it aside for a couple weeks. A conversation with one of my closest friends–Vane–implanted a new idea that challenged me. She said something, to which I replied,
“OoOo, that would make for a cool book concept.” She then said, “Yeah. You should write it.”
I just–literally a day ago–finished writing the draft for book one. It’s a YA Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic that will be told in two books. (Duology <~~~book community’s made up words/concepts. Gotta love em’) I’m still working on how to pitch it.
Side note: I just spent spontaneously 45 minutes doing premise pitching research after the above sentence. Ha!
As we were…On to the next question!
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I’m not going to lie. I didn’t set out to find that one special element that would floor in originality. I thought about it. Especially when I was discouraged to write a Dystopian by a well known author I had the privilege to meet for coffee. I understood why she did. The reality is, since The Hunger Games, then came Divergent, Dystopian stories are flooding the market right now and if yours doesn’t have SOMETHING that makes it special and unique from ALL the other Dystopians being written and queried, well…fat chance, right?
I tried to write something else. I did. But that same author said, (paraphrasing) “But if that’s the story you just HAVE to write, then write it.”
And it was. It is. Ugh. I cringe thinking about the HORRIBLE first three chapter I gave her to read. They weren’t even formatted professionally and they were the FIRST words I wrote from this story back when it was a completely different concept. Oh boy. I look back and thank her for her kindness. She could’ve given me a harsh dose of reality right then and there but spared my fragile, insecure heart.
There is one element in my story, which was THE thing my friend, Vane mentioned that started this whole thing. I think it’s unique to the genre (and because so, sorry, but I won’t specify what it is *cheesy grin*). One beta reader recently told me something that floored me and warmed my heart.
She mentioned that so far, it reminded her of nothing she’s read. She usually gets a feel within the first few pages if a book is going to remind her too much of something else.
Well, that was pretty freaking awesome to hear! *grins like a fool*
Why do I write what I do?
*adjusts, tucking legs under me on sofa chair*
Oh boy. How to start this. You asked a lofty question there, my friend. I’m here chewing the corner of my lip, determined to give you the short version instead of my signature long winded answer.
Growing up (Ha! I know. Already off to a promisingly short start 0_o) I always lived in the realm of stories, outside of my own reality. I was always a closet lover of all things nerdy and YA (young adult) even beyond my own YA years. I wrote and directed plays for teenagers for years. I fangirled alone before I knew the term. I wrote screenplays (movie scripts) that premised around a teenager who usually started off in high school and then moved on or teenagers in late 1800’s period dramas because on of my first literary love which was and has remained to be all things Jane Austen era. The classic, period dramas are my other love.
I contemplated writing a book for years but never thought myself qualified or literary enough to pull it off. I thought of myself as a “creative” writer not a literary one. Yeah, I realize now the ridiculousness and inaccuracy of that statement. So I wrote scripts, poems, songs, all my life. My few secret attempts at books remained secret and unfinished. One common denominator stood out. Everything I wrote appealed to either the Young Adult or PG New Adult genre/audience. I used to feel ashamed of it, placing a stigma against it. So, I kept them in a secret chamber, never sharing them other than with the bestie who was sworn to secrecy.
My fifteen year old bookish, gamer niece introduced me to a few YA books that I happily devoured one, to connect with her on it and two, because I was genuinely intrigued by them. The Floodgates Opened! Interesting things is, I had read a few YA novels before, I just didn’t know YA was even a term, let alone a genre.
She lent me her copy of Divergent after I saw Insurgent at a Ross for $8. I have a thing about book covers. They speak to me and when they do, without knowing anything about them, I’m usually sold. The cover of Insurgent spoke to me and it was hard cover and only $8. I had to buy it. She insisted that I had to first read book one of that series. Divergent shifted something for me. I was introduced to the YA community and the genre term Dystopian because of it.
I’ve never been a fantasy or intergalactic sci-fi or paranormal type person. I can appreciate them, enjoy them even, but they haven’t been big themes in my book or movie preferences. Of course, other than your everyday contemporaries, and my forever love for period dramas, there was something that just stuck when it came to this genre. I would say more Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic. They’ve always fascinated me. I think I like the real aspect of these possible futures–both the characters and the decaying possibilities of humanity along with all that comes in it’s wake. I love kick ass movies. I love action and a good romance in the midst of it all.
I love YA. I love the community of YA. I love the journey and themes YA explores. They’re endless. And there’s still apart of me that has a few NA, and Adult contemporary ideas on the writing shelf but I think YA will be by permanent home, while the other genres, I’ll visit.
Sorry, guys. I tried making that short. Apologies if it’s a jumbled mess of thoughts.
How does my writing process work?
Here’s what happens. When I get a story in my head and dare give it life on ‘paper’ or Word document, I’m a goner. Why? Because I’m an extremist. I’m either all in or nothing. It’s good and bad but we won’t get into that.
Once I begin writing, I give myself fully to it. I lock myself away and forget the world because all I want is to be in my new world, getting to know my new characters, and I’m usually desperately eager to see them fall in love already.
What happened with…let’s call it #DYSTOPIANProject, was that in the beginning, I brainstormed in a notebook some worldbuilding and plot and knew it would take three books to tell the story. At that time, it was also a dual-perspective (which it no longer is). I began drafting for months getting up to 67,ooo words. Then the bomb.
November 2013. I couldn’t see the ending. I stopped and worked it out in my brain over and over. I called the bestie and she asked the hard questions. No matter how I twisted it, the ending–or lack there of–didn’t work. It wouldn’t work. The world and it’s problems were SO massive, I couldn’t reel it in to a satisfactory conclusion after a trilogy.
I attempted being a pantser, writing and letting the story unfold as it may and well…yeah, that failed. I had to chuck the entire draft and start over. I had a mild heart attack about that. It was time to change tactics. My writing process was going to get a make over. I spent a couple months in front of the new draft document like this:
Since nothing was happening–No Spark–I researched other author’s process from Premise to Drafting. Before starting chucked Draft one, Veronica Roth had a lot of great writing tips on her blog that inspired me to dive in and attempt a literary manuscript for real this time. After chucking it and before starting the new one, Jodi Meadows’ blog was like scavenger hunting and finding GOLD! It was actually a wonderfully beautiful season of Writing tips. I wrote all about it here: Back in the Game: Writing
In short, I went to Miami Book Fair and attended Lauren Oliver’s writing workshop which was Ha-Mazing! She’s an excellent teacher. Then Jodi Meadows–author of the INCARNATE series–had blog posts on Worldbuilding, Premise, Outline, Plot, Character development…I mean, peoples, it was a PLETHORA of wonderful information. I spent days taking notes, reviewing each post, then applying it. It was the best thing for my story. Luckily, once the new concept came to mind, though MANY things changed, much of the worldbuilding had already been done through the first concept draft.
1. Premise. Circle. Snap.
I REFUSED to let myself write one word of official drafting until I had all my eggs in their basket. Granted, I wasn’t SO anal to the point of trying to figure out EVERY. SINGLE. SCENE. AND DETAIL before writing it. I left room for creative freedom, allowing the story and characters to do that freaky little thing they do when they take a life of their own during writing. You think,
How the hell? I’m their God! I …nope. You have a different plan it seems. Um, and who the hell is that? I never planned on this character. Hey! What are you doing back here after I chucked your character in concept one draft?
It’s INSANE and wonderful. Oh, the wonders of being a writer.
I spent months plotting, worldbuilding, character developing, and researching before drafting.
2. Plot Board
I set up a plot board, a la Lauren Oliver who posted a picture of hers a while ago which inspired me. I’m a VERY visual person. I’ve always been a visual and hands-on learner as well. I need to see, interact with things I’m working with. It does not all stay in my head. I’m Dori. I will strike genius and forget it two point five seconds later.
I take the plot board project very seriously, because I’m a nerd like that. I’m that girl who gets perhaps a tab bit TOO excited at office supply stores. Anyway, I go all out with coordinating index card colors and everything. For example: My yellow cards indicate when we’re in my MC’s world. Red cards mean Inciting Incident and Major Plot Twist moments. Light teal cards are for when we’re in our male lead’s world. Lastly, I have blue cards keeping tabs of what and when my MC has specific plot aiding Dreams. She’s a dreamer.
Random Behind the Scene Fun Fact: The two images above show two different laptops. Shortly after starting the first concept draft, my freaking laptop decided TO. DIE. *cue expletives & rage* I didn’t get Black Stallion 2 up there (image 2) till SIX. MONTHS. LATER. I had to borrow on occasion my mother’s work office computer that too was dying slowly and of course, she would need for work. Those six months were pure agony. Good times…
*purses lips* good….times. And, BTS moment done!
3. Scribble. Doodle. Daydream. Repeat.
Once I have my main things in place and unlike the first time, I have a clear ending for the story, the drafting magic can begin.
For me, what works is to have a Writing Notebook as well. I take the mess of notes I’ve accumulated and organize them in legible form with sticky notes, highlights, etc. I ‘ll occasionally illustrate my main characters, wardrobe, seals or symbols represented within the world. Then, I’ll scribble-map-out a chapter in the notebook before attacking it on the draft document. I ask:
What needs to happen in this scene?
I reference my Plot board index cards and go into more detail in my notes before typing out the chapter. It really helps to eliminate all the voices that won’t shut up and let you think because it’s asking all the questions on top of your creative thinking, layered on top of your dialogue and scene. It gets messy in there–your brain. By scribbling out key points in your chapter, then daydreaming about it for a bit, you leave room to just dive in and make that chapter your bitch. *wink*
And so the journey once again began…and I was all:
Some days, knee deep in chapters, I’d need to scoot my bearing into a neat little pile and refocus. Those days called for EXTRA COFFEE. Without coffee, well, let’s just say it is not a pretty sight, people. Not. At. All. I tend the get melodramatic…
Okay, Yes! I’m always dramatic, I know! But, without coffee. Believe it or not, it gets even more interesting.
Oh! THIS. It’s like fuel and air to live! Along with coffee. Music is essential for me to write. I need to escape into ‘write-combination-of-scene-moments-inspiration’ and ‘kick-ass-motivation’ music selections. I create a playlist that inspires my creative juices as well as inspires portions of the story I’m writing. Here’s a link to my WRITING PLAYLIST on YouTube. Go knock yourself out. Take a gander, if you’d like.
I’m sure I’ll be back in the future with details on the rollercoaster adventure of REVISION *eerie drums escalate*. I will have my first pair of professional eyes reading my now done draft for Book One this coming week.
Next week on the blog tour:
Oof! Yeah, my bad. I have spent the last fourteen days writing straight. Like, sprint writing in the bat cave of my room coming up occasionally for air, food–rarely–and coffee–frequently. I forgot to recruit others and pass off the blog tour topic baton. Ugh. My apologies. BUT! Check out these two other blog tour: My Writing Process stops and keep up with their other tags.
Thanks for checking out my ramblings on writing. Till next time!