Tuesday, June 10, 2014

My Writing Process - Answers to four questions

I've been tagged by Nancy Bilyeau, scriptwriter and the brilliant author of The Crown and The Chalice to participate in a blog hop on the writing process. I have four questions to answer, and then I have to tag two authors to do the same.

Here goes.

1. What are you working on? 
I always work on two fiction pieces at once. In the morning, I add to a work in progress. Ingenious Daughter is a historical YA romance based on the life of the first female scientist in North America. With no formal training, she outdid her male colleagues and earned the admiration of Ben Franklin. All the while, she had to evade her father's attempts to marry her off to wealthy landowners. I have the story, but my word count is low, so I'm adding fresh chapters.

In the afternoon/evening, I do revisions on a completed draft. Knocked Off Balance is a contemporary YA about a circus arts fanatic who transfers into a school that's had a shooting. I'm sprucing it up in response to an agent's request to see the full manuscript.

2. How does your work differ from others of its genre? 
One thing I bring to Ingenious Daughter is a deep knowledge of the joy of experimentation and exploration. I've worked as a chemist and interviewed dozens of scientists about their approaches, so this adds a dimension that's unusual in a romance. I know what drives the heroine to persist even though everyone pressures her to stop research and return to more feminine pursuits.

In Knocked Off Balance, the main character has a weird talent that allows an exploration of what happens to students after the news crews are long gone but the rupture of violence is still fresh.

3.) Why do you write what you do? 
I resisted writing YA because I did not want to revisit my teenage years. It took a mentor to point out that much of what I was doing in novels included YA themes and many of the short stories I'd sold were YA stories. So, despite myself, I've found these tales, whether historical or contemporary or SF/F, evoke the emotions that hook me and carry me through to the final words of the project. In the end, it's all about powerful, sometimes overwhelming, emotions.

4.) How does your writing process work? 
Not surprising, I work at top speed. For new works, the day before, I decide what scenes I'll compose, usually writing complete sentences. This is as close as I come to outlining nowadays, but I'm not a pure pantser. Years of plotting have worked structure into my bones, so I tend to move toward story beats without planning. I dictate the scenes the next morning (using Dragon Dictate) in 40-minute bursts, breaking for coffee and stretching in between sessions. I keep at it until the scenes I wrote sentences for are all done.

When I work on revisions in the afternoon or evening, these are done with a timer set and I am very specific about what work must be done -- a pass for missing scenes or checking story logic or reading aloud for the sound value of words. I never just sit down to "rewrite." I focus in on one task at a time.

Of course, this blog (How To Write Fast) is filled with details on every aspect of the writing process, and I apply most of these to my own work. Feel free to explore. 

I'm passing the baton to two writer friends whose fiction I admire.

Melanie Meadors

A writer of speculative fiction and lover of geeky things, Melanie R. Meadors lives in central Massachusetts, in a one hundred-year-old house full of quirks and surprises. She's been known to befriend wandering garden gnomes, do battle with metal-eating squirrels, and has been called a superhero on on more than one occasion.

Her short fiction has been published in Circle Magazine, The Wheel, and Prick of the Spindle, and has consistently received honorable mentions in the Writers of the Future contest. One of her short stories was a finalist in the 2014 Jim Baen Memorial Science Fiction contest. She’s a publicist with Market or Die Author Services and Publicity Coordinator at Ragnarok Publications.
Her blog address is www.melaniermeadors.wordpress.com

Alison McMahan

Alison McMahan writes historicals romances and mysteries for YA and NA audiences. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from the Stonecoast Program at the University of Southern Maine. Her short story, "Monsters on the Border," won an honorable mention from Writers of the Future. Her YA historical mystery- romance, "The Saffron Crocus" won third prize in the Joyce Henderson Contest, second prize (historical category) in the Melody of Love contest, second prize (historical category) in the Utah RWA Great Beginning's contest, and finaled in Daphne and Rosemary contests. She reviews books for Entangled and the Historical Novel Society. Member of RWA, FRWA, AWP, the Historical Novel Society, MWA and ITW.  

McMahan is an award-winning screenwriter and author. Published books: The Films of Tim Burton: Animating Live Action in Hollywood (Continuum 2005), and Alice Guy Blaché, Lost Visionary of the Cinema (Continuum 2002), which won two awards, was translated into Spanish, adapted into a play, and optioned for a film. She has written hundreds of articles; complete list on her website. Her blog address is www.AlisonMcMahan.com/blog 


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