Writing Process Blog Tour
The spectacularly rad Kelly Loy Gilbert (here’s her Twitter) tagged me on her My Writing Process Blog Hop. Kelly and I met after a group of Bay Area writers got together a few months back and I can honestly say that her kindness and practicality have restored my faith in humanity. Kelly’s book Conviction comes out in Summer 2015 from Disney Hyperion and it’s going to be amazing.
Now to the blog hop questions:
1. What am I working on?
I am working on the final edits for An Ember in the Ashes these days. I’m also working on a second book, which, like Ember, is a YA Fantasy.
2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I never set out to write something different. My goal is always to write something true. This might seem odd since I write fantasy and a fantasy is, inherently fantastical. By “true”, I just mean that I want the emotions of my characters to be realistic and relatable. I want their stories to reflect the reality of our world. I want their struggles and victories to really resonate. Good YA fantasy—books like The Scorpio Races, The Naming, Finnikin of the Rock and Graceling—do exactly that.
If my work does differ, it’s only in that it reflects my personal style of writing, as well as my interest in inside-outside narratives and hefty internal struggles.
3) Why do I write what I do?
So lately, I’ve been listening to a lot of experimental remixes. The type of stuff you find on SoundCloud that makes you feel like a god of musical discovery. (This story has a point, I swear.) And you know, these remixes are great and fun and I love them. But every now and then, I’ll shuffle my music and an old-school (to me, anyway) rock song will come on, like “Closer” or “Low” or “Gouge Away” and it’s pure bliss. It’s home.
That’s what fantasy is for me. I love contemporary fiction, science-fiction, non-fiction, poetry. But fantasy is home. Much like how I’m never not in the mood for a rock song, I’m never not in the mood for a solid fantasy book. I was attempting (failing) to write a contemporary adult fiction novel when I got the idea for Ember. After I switched over, everything changed. I started to look forward to writing. I wrote obsessively. Even when I was struggling, I couldn’t wait to get back to my story. I finally felt like I had to write. Once that happened, I never looked back.
4) How does your writing process work?
I’ve found that I’m a combination plotter/pantser. If I plot too much, then I find myself over-thinking things and getting bogged down in details. But if I don’t plot at all, then I find myself wandering around in my story like a sheep without her flock and my revisions take much longer.
What works for me now is to get a rough sense of my characters goals for a book, as well as their overall arc. Then I do a very broad strokes outline which gives me a sense of what my plot points are and where they will fall. Then I fill in the blanks by free-writing. I shape the story significantly during edits—that’s usually what I spend the most time on.
Tag—you’re it! On to the next two writers:
Michelle Levy is a casting director and Colorado native who now lives in my favorite city and adopted hometown, Los Angeles. Michelle has written a YA contemporary novel called The End of the Beginning, which is out in Summer 2015 from Dial/Penguin. Her book is about two broken people who help each other survive and ultimately find love.
Sandra Waugh is the author of Lark Rising, a YA fantasy due out on Sept. 23, 2014. It is the story of a shy clairvoyant who is chosen to seek help for her besieged village, only to discover she’s on a journey of a far greater and more dangerous purpose: to reclaim the amulet of Life, which she attempts with the help of a gnome, a white horse, and a young man whom she loves but who’s fated to kill her.