So there’s this writer’s blog tour/hop (I’m never quite sure what to call these things) going around about writing processes. I was double-tagged by triple-threat Rebekah Faubion and fellow plantser Ami Allen-Vath. I’m flattered they want to know more about how I work. Here’s hoping I don’t disappoint. :D
What am I working on?
Currently, I’m drafting a young adult contemporary novel, PLEASE STAND BY. It involves a girl, poor choices, worse choices, consequences, and kissing. I’m also revising THINGS WE SHOULD HAVE SAID, a young adult contemporary in alternating voice. It involves a girl, a boy, shenanigans, regret, redemption, and kissing. Notice the common thread is kissing?
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I tend to write fearlessly. My work honors the myriad complexities involved in being young and existing in that messy gray area known as adolescence, where your body feels grown up but sometimes the brain lags behind. I’m also aware that my intentions for the work don’t mean shit, so that’s pretty freeing. Ultimately, it’s all about the readers. I’m not here to serve them, but I’m in service to them, if that makes any sense. If there’s one thing that might be different, I rarely physically describe my characters. And if there is description, it comes from other characters. No pensively staring in the mirror or seeing a reflection in a lake. But there will occasionally be clues sprinkled about, like easter eggs in movies and video games. If you make (most likely incorrect) assumptions about a character’s physical appearance before it’s revealed (if ever), you probably need to check your privilege at the door. Or memorize this article.
Why do I write what I do?
Because I don’t know how not to! It’s a calling. As the writer Jorge Luis Borges said, “The task of art is to transform what is continuously happening to us, to transform all these things into symbols, into music, into something which can last in man’s memory.” I’ve been writing stories ever since I learned how to read and write (age 3 according to my mother). It’s a way of processing emotions and getting all these loud voices out of my head and onto the page. Creating makes me feel good. And I’m all about doing what makes me feel good. The stories I write may be tough or dark or gritty, but those were the stories I needed, especially as a young person. Stories that let me know what I was thinking, feeling, doing, imagining, believing, etc. wasn’t weird or abnormal.
How does your writing process work?
Most of the time it starts with a line of dialogue that pops in my head at the most random time: while I’m at the day job, in the shower, during a middle-of-the-night trip to the bathroom. I try to put it down somewhere before I forget it. If it feels urgent, I start fast-drafting and see where that takes me. If the story feels like it’s coming more slowly, I sketch out some beats or plot points to help figure out how to begin. But I am so not a plotter. I repeat: PLOTTING IS THE DEVIL. Outlines don’t work for me. Every time I try one, the characters ignore it. The one thing that consistently works is doing character interviews. Pretending that I’ve just met them, that I’m trying to get to know them, really helps suss out the voice.
I’ve tagged Ghenet Myrthil and Candice Montgomery, two fabulous writers that I adore. Look for their posts next week.
Ghenet crafts young adult fiction that is contemporary, emotional, and (sometimes) funny. She also keeps an incredible bucket list: Thirty Before 30.
Candice writes new adult fiction that is sporadic, evocative, and unhinged. She also has the distinction of introducing the phrase “holy hooker” into my vocabulary.