Thursday, June 5, 2014

Writing Process Tag

Rebeca tagged me and I don't have anything specific to blog about today so why not?

Q: What am I working on at the moment?

Bad Fairy book 2, which I guess everyone knows is a fairy tale retelling and sequel to the first Bad Fairy. I anticipate it being about as long as the first one, and it will cover my protagonist's teen years and her twenties. (Yeah, pretty much completely. It starts when she is 13 and ends when she is 29.)

And it will also contain the famous scene everyone who knows it's a Sleeping Beauty retelling waits for--the whole uninvited guest thing and "there's a curse on your baby" thing. Uh, sort of.

I am about 40,000 words in. I also have an in-progress, untitled short story that I don't know how to end, but I might have an idea.

Q: How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Specifically with Bad Fairy and in general with most of my stuff, my writing is very personal--not for me, but I mean for my characters. It usually focuses completely on the mental life of a character and very rarely (okay, never) includes a focus on external action. Some people find this off-putting--that my writing tends to be such a microcosm without looking outside its own head--but some people find it refreshing to read fantasy that isn't about saving the world, winning a war, rescuing a princess, or revolutionizing society.

Though I guess technically my book does contain my protagonist rescuing a princess. (???)

I tend not to have much with geography or politics--so unlike many fantasy stories, you won't see maps, focus on warring clans or rivalries between countries, or detailed and involved family affiliations/history. And I'm not a lush describer--my settings tend to be bare unless I really focus on it (and I usually push myself to do so, because people have complained about it). I do all right with magic systems and making my magical races different from what's established/expected . . . and in fairy tale retellings, I don't let the original dictate what I can write.

Q: Why do I write what I do?

Well, very little of what I write has a calculated purpose, so "why" is difficult for me. The obvious answer is that I write what I write because I love to, but I guess I do have some other answers to why. I love to write character-motivated action in which you're never left floundering as to why people behave the way they do, and the intimate connection between the narratives I choose and the perspectives they carry helps readers transport themselves into someone else's thoughts. I also really enjoy making the fantastical seem extremely grounded in a perspective--making the "other" into the familiar--and I love using fiction to explore experiences others may not (or cannot) have been through. And occasionally I'll write something with a social point, though usually that's just in my short stories--I tend to shy away from novels with a moral, but sometimes my short stories have them. I recently wrote a short story that involved a person with a mental illness that did not involve trying to "fix" her and involved respect for her need to control her experiences. And I have written several short stories that incorporated queer people's experiences without being "about" their queerness--I love when stories include these as essential elements of people without being "the point."

Q: How does my writing process work?

I generally pants my butt off. Usually I'll get a sorta-kinda idea about a character or a situation and I'll experimentally try them out on paper, seeing what they feel like and talk like. (I prefer first person.) If it's working--if I enjoy the character and want to see what will happen next--I'll usually do some combination of banging on trying to keep up with imagining their scenes and thinking about the story a lot in the off moments--biking to work, falling asleep, in the shower. That's where "plot" sometimes comes from--it doesn't really come in the moments, because "plot" for me is more about how to frame one slice of a person's existence in such a way that it is an entertaining story, and it's not so much about WHAT happens as it is about how I put it in front of the reader to seem like it has a plot. I don't do much conscious directing; I'll usually think about hey, if I was reading about this person, what would make me think they were totally rad if they did this next? I take it where I'd like to see it go (though sometimes the characters seem to have other ideas).

Each time I write a chapter, I generally go back and read it, and maybe I'll think of a few more things to add, change, or delete. Then the next chapter builds on it, etc. When I've finished a book, I'll do a couple self-edits before sending it to the first critique partners. I'll often show it to a couple people who like to read everything I do, and then I'll open up an invitation for people who might not have read my stuff before to comment--I'll post "hey, I finished a book, it's called XYZ, it's about this--looking for test readers, e-mail me if you want to get on the list." Then I'll send volunteers the first three chapters and wait for their feedback. If they don't give me anything or their feedback isn't helpful or they don't seem very interested (or tell me they're not into it!), I don't send them the rest. (That way my whole book isn't floating around on a bunch of people's hard drives if they have no investment in the dang thing.)

Sometimes if a person in my test audience is someone I know to have a particularly relevant point of view--like if they've done the career the protagonist has, or they represent a demographic that matches the character's better than I do in age, gender, race, orientation, ability/disability, or perspective, then I may ask them to pay special attention to those aspects and give me advice if I seem to be misfiring. (I've done this a lot for how to write straight people. Haha.)

Then I polish the book again until I feel comfortable, probably flollop around doodling the characters for a while, and finally I guess submission happens. For short stories that's an obvious process, but for novels it used to be I'd send it to agents, etc. That doesn't happen anymore since an agent actually signed me, so. The other books I've written are just kind of floating around waiting for the first one to sell, and I guess if it does, I'll send the next book to my agent to see if she likes it and wants to try to sell it.

And that's it! Hey writers who follow me, I tag y'all. If you want to be tagged, that is. I'm all about consensual-only tagging. :D How about Ronni? Whitney? Vanessa? There are things I must know.

1 comment:

  1. Oh LOL. You actually saw that tag. I didn't expect you to xD.

    Whoaaaa 16 years D: For some reason, I thought this Bad Fairy book took place in the span of like...5 years (so just the 13-18 age range?). I know you technically already wrote the story all in one before, but it must still be so cool to see Delia grow so much.

    Oh! And congrats on getting to 40k! :D