Writer Blair MacGregor thoughtfully tagged me to take part in the Writer’s Blog tour, so here we go! Blair’s answers are really insightful, so you should definitely check hers out first.
WHAT AM I WORKING ON?
I’m working on two projects at the moment: I’m editing a high fantasy novel in which a sorcerer-prince and a ninja have to work together to figure out what’s causing a magical plague of monsters and defeat it. And, because a different book I finally finished drafting went monstrous on me, I’m switching gears completely with a YA SF novel in the style of a romantic comedy JDrama, and so far it is coming along as hilariously as I hoped.
HOW DOES MY WORK DIFFER FROM OTHERS IN THE GENRE?
First, I absolutely agree with what Blair wrote about novelty. That said, there are some trends in my work: critique partners have observed that I’m prone to writing badass female characters who snark, and this is not incorrect ;).
I write characters who are outsiders and monsters and heroes, who are smart and competent. I write strong female characters, strong in the sense of strong characters who are women, not in the sense of physical or killing abilities. I love taking characters who have been overlooked or who consider themselves failures and dismantling their assumptions. Agency, individuality, choice, and freedom are always central.
WHY DO I WRITE WHAT I DO?
Because no one else can write my stories, and because I have to write them so I can read them.
Because by its very nature, a fantasy work must create a world, and the creation of a new world in turn creates opportunities to challenge readers’ expectations of how their own world must work. The (spatial, temporal, etc.) distance fantasy establishes enables readers to consider ideas presented with greater objectivity.
My favorite stories are ones that force me to think and are also overwhelmingly awesome and fun. So that’s what I do my best to write.
HOW DOES MY WRITING PROCESS WORK?
It’s different for every book.
I have outlined and discovery written and iterations in-between. In discovery writing there’s always a point where I reach a wall and have to outline myself out of it. With outlining there are always points where as I’m writing characters do or say things that force me to scrap sections of my outline. I can’t write out of order, because as I write characters make choices that change their relationships and the plot that I don’t know about before my fingers are on the keyboard.
Lately I’ve been starting with a general idea of plot and character arc with a few points I know to write towards and then I fill in (both the outline and the novel) as I go. If I leave myself notes the previous session and then brainstorm a scene right before I write it, the writing goes much more easily.
I write all the way through, only going back for minor edits, and then before I send a draft to readers go back and do a full editing pass during which I flesh out the draft. I switch between writing platforms (Word, NEO, Scrivener, notebooks…) and spaces (within my apartment or coffee shops) when I get stuck, though I format everything into manuscript format before I’m done for the day to keep everything consolidated, and then I back up daily because I’m paranoid. I track word count statistics so I can prove to myself that I’m actually being useful and pressing along. I draft sparingly and then add in descriptions and whatnot where necessary in the full editing pass, which helps keep me out of the trap of too much world-building exposition.
I sometimes put in headphones and turn of the internet to help myself focus; I always drink tea.