When Amy tagged me in her writing process post she had no idea what a gift it would become. Obviously, neither of us foresaw what a crazy week this would turn into – in both work and life and everything. Now, in the aftermath, I get to sit down with a cup of coffee and a good playlist and talk about writing, which is an unexpected gift.
The interesting thing about being a writer is you kind of can’t talk about what you do. And by that I mean, you can’t really talk in depth about your WIP. Because why spend all that time trying to describe it instead of just writing it? The only thing left, if you can’t talk about actual stories, is to talk about the process. Which is fun in its own way, provided your audience is actually interested 🙂 Fellow writers make a great audience!
What am I working on/writing?
That’s an interesting question. I should be working on my second and third novel, respectively referred to as Arizona and Roses. (I like code names, they make me feel cool and mysterious and also they’re efficient.)
Arizona is, I guess, urban fantasy. It’s contemporary but there is also an element of the supernatural because I find that sort of thing interesting. I have a weak first draft so far that I should be expanding on but, well I’ll get to that in a moment.
Roses is the second book in the Princess Kingdom series. So, like Tattered Heart, it’s a loose retelling of a fairy tale but I’m not ready to say which one or much more than that yet. I’m about 4 chapters into my third/fourth draft (layers make actual draft count sort of blurry sometimes).
But the truth is I’m still also working on Tattered Heart. If you read my blog at all or follow me on twitter you’ve probably seen that I decided to record and produce the audiobook for this novel. Which has been awesome and fun and a much, much (much!) longer process than I expected. I’m still editing it all together and need to finish before the end of July to send it to my composer for the score. So Arizona has been put on a back burner and I’ve been spending my days editing Tattered Heart and writing Roses.
Which is surprisingly effective because they’re both creative endeavors but different enough that I haven’t gotten burned out yet. I just always feel like there isn’t enough time… but I guess we all feel that way at some point.
How does my work/writing differ from others of its genre?
I write in third person omniscient. This wasn’t a purposeful decision to be different, or really a decision at all. I sat down to write Tattered Heart and didn’t think about pov at all – I just wrote the story. Then my editor commented on how third omniscient was a fairly rare pov and I was like, “oh, huh, yeah I guess that’s what I wrote.” Because I do know my different povs – I just didn’t think about it 🙂
I also tend to write YA books about characters much closer to twenty (like anywhere between 17 and 24). I still consider it YA though because one of the characteristics (for me) of YA is the emotional, character focus and the vibrancy of the writing. Stylistically they’re YA, despite the age of the characters.
Why do I write what I do?
Because I decided to. Let me ‘splain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up…
One Saturday morning several years ago I was entertaining a couple of different ideas that had nothing to do with stories or characters until they all kind of ran together and became, “I should write a book. What should I write about?” And then I thought on that for a while until I got to, “I wonder if there’s enough story there for a whole book. Well, there’s only one way to find out.”
For a while there, the only reason I wrote Tattered Heart was because I’d decided to write a book and I wanted to see if I could do it.
I tend to live a lot of my life like that.
Then of course I fell in love with it and realized I really was a writer and probably should have been in some way all along (which my sister already knew).
It’s not what you are, but what you don’t become that hurts.– Oscar Levant
Having recognized I was a writer, when I had the idea for Arizona I was fascinated by it and knew there was enough there, somewhere, to be my next novel. It was kind of reassuring because until then I trusted that another idea would come but… I really hadn’t found it yet. That moment when writing truly became a journey and not just an event along the way was nice.
Then, after a particular draft of Tattered Heart I thought about how these suitors coming to Amaranyllis were someone else’s Prince Charming. And that I should make each of the kingdoms it’s own version of a different fairy tale. So I sort of instinctively decided which kingdom would be which fairy tale. And then it was apparent which would be the next to be written.
How does my writing process work?
I write in layers, which I have another post to explain in more detail because it’s not something I hear talked about by other writers much (though Susan Dennard has said it’s very similar to how she writes).
Basically, I start with a narrative draft which is the whole story – start to finish – but sparse. Just sentences of what happens instead of descriptions, very little setting, a good amount of dialog because that’s how I figure out character motivation (which generally drives the plot because that’s my weakest area). Then I go back and build on that – writing out more description. Turning a sentence into a scene. Deepening the character’s emotions and clarifying who they are and what they’re fighting for and why so the readers can understand them the way I do. Adding dialog tags and action to the dialog. Again and again, layer by layer until it becomes a novel.
Now I’m supposed to tag other writers, but I’m always weird and awkward with the tagging thing. So, if you’re a writer who’s found this post, please post your own and you can say I tagged you 🙂 and link back in the comments. Because I do love reading about how other authors write.
Thanks for sharing, Annie! It was neat reading about your process and what made you start writing! I’ve read your post about writing in layers before and I feel I really ought to try that sometime, since I tend to get caught up in the minutia of “oh crap, I have no idea what exactly needs to happen next but I know what needs to happen a few chapters later”. I also like that you write about slightly older characters! Sometimes I worry writing about someone older than 18 makes it not YA, but I feel the story’s YA, so maybe I just ought to stop worrying about! 🙂
I think the writing in layers thing started from just not knowing what I was doing 🙂 It was like – just write what you *do* know and then go from there. Turned out to be an effective way for me to write. I’d be really curious, if you do try it, to hear about your experience and how it’s different than plotting or pantsing.