Last week, agency sister Jennifer Walsh invited me to participate in a blog hop about writers’ writing processes. These sorts of things are fun, so I said sure. Her post is up here, talking about her current projects (YA historicals – I have SO much respect) and how she works on them. (Also check out her agent-signing story in her previous post, which is an encouraging validation of the power of perseverance.)
On to the questions!
1) What am I working on?
Currently I’m trying to figure out what my next project is. I started a future-set story about a teen prodigy racing pilot, but am having some trouble finding the right narrative thread. I’ve got a couple of other ideas I’m also playing with in the meantime. I am just starting another round of revision on my dragon mafia story, and I have a story about a girl in a future-NYC assassin’s guild which is currently out on submission. All are fast-paced, action-oriented, and a little dark in tone.
2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
What sets a book apart from others is always a little hard to quantify. I think in my case it’s a combination of the unusual story concepts, the speed of the pacing, and that I don’t pull punches. I like to write dark-toned stories full of mistakes and terrible events, which somehow nonetheless come to a happy conclusion.
3) Why do I write what I do?
I write YA because that’s the category that felt right to me. Also, what I love to read best. My first couple of books were adult and MG, but it wasn’t till I wrote my third, a YA, that I finally felt like I’d found home. I’m drawn to books with heartbreak and grim moments, where things keep taking wrong turns for the protagonist, and yet they still don’t give up, they try to power through and make things right. I like protagonists who take control of their decisions, even if they end up making the wrong ones. And I like fast pacing and action that keeps me flipping pages. So that’s what I try to write.
4) How does my writing process work?
I’m a pantser, so I usually start drafting a novel with an idea of characters and setting, and a vague sense of the central concept, but I rarely have any idea of the main conflict until I’m a little ways in. I often know the midpoint climax and for the first half of the book, that’s what I write towards and what drives my plotting; once I reach that, I work out where I’m going with the ending. As I’m drafting I’ll plot one or two scenes ahead of where I am, but I don’t usually know what’s going to happen next until I get there. It’s one of the things that’s really drawn me to writing – in some ways, it’s not that different from the discovery of reading a book. Once the first draft is done I’ll usually do two or three revision passes on it, getting reader feedback for each one. My first pass often changes a number of scenes or plot points to improve plot and character arcs, but later passes tend to be more focused on strengthening character motivation, worldbuilding, and showing-not-telling.
From here, the blog hop moves on to a few writing friends of mine. Technically the instructions for this meme say to tag three people, but I ended up reaching out to five. Swing by their blogs next Wednesday (April 15), give or take a day or two, to read about their WIPs and writing processes.
Alyssa Hollingsworth – Alyssa is a 23 year old graduate of Berry College with her BA in English/Creative Writing currently pursuing her MA at Bath Spa University. In her free time, she can be found with a camera around her neck or glued to her laptop writing the latest in her manuscript. Twitter: @alyssa__holly
Carey Blankenship - Carey is currently attending college in the south of the United States, where she writes novels and reads in her spare time. Currently, she has two finished manuscripts but no works published as of yet. This summer, however, she plans to start querying her current project, FLINT. Twitter: @carey_dimple33
Charlee Vale – Interested in many creative disciplines, Charlee is not only a writer of sci-fi YA, but also a professional photographer, and holds a Master’s degree in Theatre Performance. She currently lives in New York where she hopes to build a career in the publishing industry. Twitter: @charleevale
Heather Smith – I am a student in Washington State, a former Senior Editor for Entranced Publishing, and I use my spare time to work on several writing projects. Right now I have four completed manuscripts and a few other works in progress. The expression I live by is “The more you read, the more you know. The more you know, the more you grow.” Twitter: @smithwriter
Tessa Elwood – a writer/designer with an affinity for wheels…and the odd insane leap. on moonless nights, when my run trails turn into the deeper dark of the woods, i certainly feel like indiana jones—every step blind faith. if only my run headband was half as cool as his hat. Twitter: @tessaelwood