I was recently tagged by Melanie Crouse in an ongoing sort of blog tour, where authors discuss their writing process. I didn’t have anything on the slate for today’s post, so it seemed like a perfect time to answer some questions about it. Ready?
What am I working on now?
At the moment, I’m working on something that started as a heist book and has since morphed into a school book. Take Harry Potter and drive it into Ocean’s Eleven at about 88 mph, and you’ve got an idea where I’m coming from.
How does my book differ from others within its genre?
I’m not actually sure my book really has a genre. That’s not always a good thing. It makes it so that it’s easier to compete against other books, but it’s harder to convince people that there’s a place for it in publishing.
Why do I write what I do?
For me, it’s simple: I write what I’d like to read. I’m a librarian, and I read and watch a fair bit of media. I have a fair idea what else is going on in the field, and what’s already been done. I like doing things that aren’t already out there. With VODNIK, I chose to ignore vampires and werewolves and explore a different type of folklore from a different culture. With TARNHELM (out with editors now), I took a love of noir and brought it to fantasy because it wasn’t something I’d seen before. With THE MEMORY THIEF (also currently on submission), I explored a memory-based magic system–again, something I hadn’t seen.
If it’s already out there, why should I bother trying to recreate it? I like putting my own spin on things. Often that means breaking new territory, though sometimes it’s just twisting something that’s already there and turning it to my purpose.
How does my writing process work?
I really wish I knew. I’ve been writing steadily every day for over a decade. Sporadically for longer than that. I’ve finished 11 novels and gotten a fair bit through 5 other false starts. Each time, my process has changed and evolved. If you’d asked me five years ago what it was like, I’d have told you that I did a lot of discovery writing, but that I was wanting to switch to being more of a plotter. These days? I’m back to discovery. I write to find out what happens next.
That brings me a lot of advantages. My characters surprise me with what they do and what they’re capable of. The plot can take unexpected twists. But it also creates problems for me: I usually have to return to what I’ve written and revise it fairly extensively. I’d say I don’t really understand what a book is about until I’ve finished the first draft. The revision is then a process of going back through that first draft and honing it into my final vision.
As for the actual writing, I’ll start with an idea for a book, and start writing that book. Often I’ll soon discover that I want to write a scene, but that scene won’t make sense unless there’s a previous scene to set it up. So I’ll go back and write the previous scene. I’ll continue in that manner, writing forward and taking pauses to write backward–until I get to the point where I’ve set everything up and can just finish the book. That usually happens about the halfway marker of the book. By that time, I know what’s going to happen for the rest of the novel, and it’s just a matter of sealing the deal.
I write six days a week, 1,000 words a day. I don’t believe in muses. Writing is a job, just like my library day job. I don’t only go to work when I feel like it. You don’t get that choice. It’s the same for writing.
Anyway–that’s where I am for now. Ask me again in a year or two, and I’ll probably tell you something different. The key thing for me is to keep writing. Whatever I have to do to keep things interesting and alive, I’ll do that. Explore it. Experiment with it. Writing has to be fun for me. If it stops being fun, it all becomes wooden.
Any of you out there read this and want to be tagged yourself? Just let me know–I’ll include a link here to your blog post, wherever it might be. Just answer the same questions, and link back to this post. I’d love to hear about other writing processes.