Writing Processes Blog Tour
A writing process blog tour has been doing the rounds, and I have been invited to participate by the wonderful Julia Cooke. It’s a great chance to read about how other authors operate. Follow the blog trail backwards and see what exciting things you can discover!! Julia’s blog can be found here: http://juliacooke.net/2014/04/28/writing-processes-blog-tour/
I love that she is a plant ecologist and a writer – what a great mix. Also, Wendy Blaxland, writer extraordinaire, has just completed hers, which can be found here: http://www.wendyblaxland.com/apps/blog/writing-processes-blog-tour
So, without further adieu, here are my answers to the same questions:
What am I working on?
This is actually a difficult question to answer because, after having not had the chance to write for a while, I’m about to return to it and I have a few projects I’m interested in developing. One is a picture book with a science-fiction/horror flavour, and another is a middle grade novel with a bit of a fantasy angle. Neither projects are in my usual genre and until I sit down and properly workshop them, I don’t know if either will work. I once heard a writer say that it is important in the early stages of working on something not to talk about it too much, as projects need to build up steam, and talking about them is the equivalent of taking the lid off the saucepan to check on its progress.
So … that’s all I can tell you at this stage.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I’m influenced so much by my childhood and I think that’s what makes my work unique – people are unique so the more an author puts themselves in their books, the more unique they will be. My storylines may not always be the most original (there’s a theory that there are only a small number of stories in existence anyway) but my characters aren’t like any others I know. I also read so many books across so many genres, so that when I unconsciously steal stuff, it’s never from 1 book.
Why do I write what I do?
I loved being a kid in primary school, and now, when I write, I get to be a kid again exploring the world with a sense of wonder and a belief that farts are hilarious. I love to laugh and make other people laugh, so it makes sense I write stuff that is (hopefully) funny.
How does my writing process work?
I start with an idea that really excites me. That idea might come from a dream, or something someone has said, or maybe it just popped into my head one day and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. Whatever it is, it has to be a strong idea. I then sit down with pen and paper and start to sketch out a few things. I need what I call a story engine – this is the thing that’s going to drive the narrative. It includes information about my main character what he/she wants, what he/she needs, what fears he/she has and what major obstacles are going to be in his/her way. I also need a vague idea of where the story might end up (though this often changes throughout the writing process). I’ll then rule up a book with blank space for 30 chapters (generally my work fits into 30 chapters) and I write down little bits and pieces of what might happen in each chapter. If at the end of this process, I’m still excited about the idea and can’t wait to start actually writing, then I know I’m onto something good. So, I start writing, on the computer. Things always change when I start writing, mostly because I never really understand my characters and the world I’m writing about until I spend time being the characters and exploring the world. So as my story changes and I get lost, I’ll revisit my draft notes and revise them. I keep doing this, trying not to re-read my work too much (as you can get bogged this way) – the best thing to do is to try and finish a first draft. That draft is shown to my first reader (a very special person in my life who is excellent at pointing out what is working and what isn’t working). I then take a BIG break from the project as this gives you good distance to judge the work in a more subjective way. With a second draft I start with trying to fix what is not working and see where that takes me.
I like to do a minimum of three drafts before I’ll show a publisher, though the more drafts the better my work will be.
And that is my usual process … I hope it was of some interest to y’all.