Huzzah! I've been tagged for a blog tour about my personal writing process. Thanks to bestselling novelist, Jill Eileen Smith, for the tag. And be certain to check out her newest release, RACHEL, book 3 in her Wives of the Patriarchs series. She brings out the humanity and the drama in the familiar biblical stories, making them feel exciting and new!
Anyway, on to the questions . . . .
What am I working on at the moment?
At this particular moment, I am working on galleys for Golden Daughter, which is swamping my week. Actually, by the time this posts (it's scheduled for a few days from now!), I hope to have those done, though. Keeping my eye on that light at the end of the tunnel . . .
I just finished the revisions for Draven's Light, my upcoming 2015 novella. I'm in the process this week of watching the cover design for that project as well. Oh, my! What a gorgeous cover this is going to be! Very excited.
And on Monday, I hope to start the MASSIVE revisions necessary on my new work-in-progress-about-which-I-am-not-yet-speaking. The story is right on the very verge of really coming together, but it's going to need those revisions in order to truly shine!
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Well, these days the major difference between my work and other fantasy is my use of the omniscient narrative. It's amazing, though, what a difference in narrative choice can make! By using the omniscient narrative, I am able to bring in many more characters and threads in a compact amount of word count. This narrative also gives my work more of a classic, throw-back feel, since this is also the narrative used by favorite fantasy novelists, Tolkien, Lewis, and George MacDonald. But I try to use this old fashioned narrative in a contemporary style, such as the brilliant Sir Terry Pratchett and always-inventive Neil Gaiman use in their works.
Why do I write what I do?
I write what I write because it's also what I love to read. I love the omniscient narrative. I love complex worlds and interlinking story lines. I like books with a touch of romance that never interferes with the real drama of the plot. I like characters who aren't supermen or superwomen, but real people caught up in supercircumstances (if you'll pardon my coining a new word there). I love the challenge of trying to blend a sense of classicism with modern-day tastes and styles. I love my characters. I love my stories.
Seriously, I cannot imagine not writing what I write!
How does my writing process work?
Okay, this is what happens when I write a book. I don't know if it's a process . . . certainly not one to be emulated! But it's what happens for me when I write a new novel.
I get a seed of an idea. This is usually a good year, sometimes many more, before I'm going to actually write it. (Though my new project came to me only a month before I started writing it, which might be a record.) I will pound out a few sentences in a document somewhere about this seed of an idea. Then I'll forget where I put that document and never look at it again.
But the seed sits there in my brain. And eventually it begins to grow.
As it grows, a variety of new ideas concerning that seed grow with it. These I do not write down. Not yet. I let them swim around in my brain (oh, dear. What a mixed metaphor! Swimming seeds?) for a few months or years. The good ideas thrive and grow. The bad ones shrivel up and die. I'm pretty ruthless. I don't write anything down unless it's survived this stage of brewing. And it will often surprise me which ideas make it to the writing-it-down stage and which do not.
When the time approaches for me to write that particular novel (and this has nothing to do with, "Oh, I'm inspired to write it now!" It's entirely a matter of, "Oh, this is the next one in the timeline of my world! Yikes!"), only then will I open a new file, title it whatever the working title for that project is, and start writing. (This is after a fruitless search for that original note I made and lost somewhere. But who knows where I put that? Oh, well. It probably wasn't much good anyway.)
I start writing by simply pounding out all the ideas still swimming in my brain. There is no order to this. No rhyme or reason. Sometimes I can't see how certain ideas can ever POSSIBLY fit with others! But there's always some unconscious part of my creativity that sees a connection, so I stick with it.
After I've pounded out all the ideas, I start shuffling, shifting, deleting, and adding. Connections eventually begin to present themselves to me. In the case of Golden Daughter, the main character herself, Sairu, emerged at this stage and created all the connections necessary for the ideas to work. In the case of Shadow Hand, I realized that I couldn't bring Eanrin and Imraldera into the story until Part Two, and that made all the other story connections work.
Once this stage is complete, and I have a document that roughly details how all those swimming ideas create something cohesive, I build an outline. This is a detailed outline . . . often extremely detailed! It takes me hours to create, even days.
And then I don't really follow it.
I mean, I do follow it. But an outline and a story are not the same thing. What looked good in outline form might completely stink in book form! So the outline is very flexible. It's there to keep me on track (no rabbit trails for this cookie! Wow. Another odd metaphor.), but it's not there to constrain me. It also details how these stories fit with other stories, so I don't lose those threads along the way. At this stage in the game (about to start writing book 8 in the series), keeping track of those threads is important!
Once the outline is complete, I start drafting the opening. This is usually where the agony sets in. Openings are completely devilish for me! Absolutely appalling. I usually have five different possible openings in mind going into it, and I often have to try TEN until I find one that works. These stories are so complicated, finding the right place to start them is ridiculous.
But once the opening comes together, the rest of it starts to fall into place. That doesn't mean there isn't other agony. Rough drafting is, for me, a laborious process. Which is why I usually try to rough out my manuscripts as quickly as possible. Two to six months is the norm for me, even for my longest works. Golden Daughter, my longest work by a long shot, was begun in April and finished in October--but that was with that weird sickness knocking me out every month or so for two weeks at a stretch. Not to mention quite a bit of travel thrown in there too, which interrupted everything. So it took me a little longer. Still, not a bad pace.
Once the rough draft is done, I expect the whole thing to be utter garbage . . . but then I read through it and usually find that it's quite good. Needs help. Needs revision. But it's basically quite good. Revisions are then fairly pleasant to accomplish . . . though, in a weird sort of way, I kind of miss the horror of drafting. As much as I hate drafting, it's also tremendously exciting. Revisions, by contrast, are not as challenging and, therefore, not as interesting. (I know, I just can't be pleased!)
My favorite part of the whole process: calling it done. Ah, the relief!
And then, of course, it's not done. It still has to be looked over by editors, polished, perfected, tweaked, and read, and reread, and reread, and reread, and reread, and reread (are you seeing a pattern here?), and reread . . . until I absolutely hate it. Just before the book releases, I make a solemn to NEVER READ THAT BOOK AGAIN.
A vow which I honor . . . up until the Christmas Read-Along comes around. Then I read it with all of you. And by then, I don't hate it so much anymore.
So that is the gist of my writing process. What do you think? Ready to try it for yourselves? (Don't. Seriously. Spare yourselves.)
And there you have it! The end of my part in this tour. I am tagging Morgan Busse (author of the acclaimed Followers of the Word fantasy series), and Rachel Starr Thomson (author of . . . seriously, SO MANY exciting projects. And she puts them out amazingly fast. Once you discover her, you'll be set on reading material for AGES!)
They will be posting their features and tags sometime next week. So be certain to go check out their blogs! And you might as well check out their books while you're at it. Book 1 in Morgan's series is called Daughter of Light, and Rachel just released a new novel called Abaddon's Eve.
So now I'm curious . . . what does YOUR writing process look like? Does it vary per book, or do you see a pattern?