My Writing Process Blog Hop

So, Hayley from Books Are Delicious tagged me in the writing process blog hop forever ago, but somehow I just never got around to it. Then, Sabrina from Books and Bark tagged me this week, and it was kind of a kick in the butt (I may also be restless while waiting for CampNano to start). So thanks so much to both of these ladies for nominating me, they are both awesome blogs that everyone needs to go check out, now 🙂

What Am I Working On?

My current YA fantasy work in progress, called Nightfire, is about 16 year old Kera who survives in the wilds, in a world ravaged by shape-shifting monsters called Shadows. When she and her mother are attacked by the Shadows, leaving her mother half-dead, and Kera with fragmented visions, she must turn to the humans she has been taught to fear her entire life, to  help her find her missing sister. You can check out a better summary here, or follow my progress under the tag To Build A Story.

How Does My Work Differ From Others of Its Genre?

Something I have a habit of doing, unintentionally, is genre-bending. For a long time, my first manuscript was strictly sci-fi, but it wasn’t working. When I added magic and the fantasy element, something clicked–but I still loved the technology and the world I had created. So why not have both? Nightfire is similar in that it has magic and monsters, but also strong post-apocalyptic elements, such as machines, some tech, and a collapsed society.

Why Do I Write What I Write?

I really don’t limit myself to genres. While my two main manuscripts happen to be fantasy, I’ve also written contemporary, sci-fi, even paranormal. I don’t really choose what I write, the stories come to me.

How Does Your Writing Process Work?

First, I start with an abstract concept. This can be a setting, a premise, or a voice, that strike me one day. I have a lot of these ideas floating around, so usually when I’m first inspired I’ll write as much as I possibly can about this idea. This is mostly major concepts and characters, kind of a rough outline, or particular ideas. Then I sit down to write, and just let the words flow. I take this abstract idea, kind of a mound of clay, and let it form and shape itself into something more concrete. If I fall in love, I keep writing. Usually I can tell by about the 15k mark, if an idea is novel-ready. If it’s not, I store it for later (I have dozens of these, waiting to be written). If it is, I keep letting the story tell itself. I don’t plan very much, just main story ideas and arcs, because often the story takes itself places I never imagined. I also have a heavy editing phase, but I actually enjoy this part almost as much. This is where I get to take that half-formed stone and chip away, bit by bit, to reveal the masterpiece inside. 🙂 Don’t underestimate the importance and power of editing!

I wish I had some great advice, but I really don’t. Everyone is different. I’ve been writing my entire life, and the stories tell themselves for me. I’ve kind of learned through years of trial-and-error what works for me and what doesn’t. While I think it is important to learn the craft, I think you will improve most through just plain writing, and figuring it out for yourself.

Tag People!

1. Jackie Smith – A Platform of Sorts

2. David Ben-Ami – Fiction All Day

3. Stephanie Allen – My Personal Fairytale

4. Writing Smarter

5. Yawatta Hosby – A Writer’s Blog

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What Am I Getting Myself Into?

My very first blog post had this title, but it’s been a long day, my creativity is spent, and that’s exactly what I’m feeling right now.

I’ve heard so much about NaNoWriMo, for years now, even before I jumped into this whole thing. I just never thought it would be possible for me. First of all, being in school full-time, I would never have time in November. Plus, before a couple months ago, I’d  never tried a monthly word goal. So, 60,000 words in a month?? Impossible.

Now I am signed up for CampNaNoWriMo, with one day left before it starts.

Cue panic mode? Check.

At the time I didn’t know that you could aim for anything less than the 60k, but you can. So, I am aiming for the much more manageable 20,000. After all, this will only be my second monthly word goal ever, and I do have an actual life too. 🙂

I’ve only been signed up for a few days, but am already finding all kinds of lovely people. Once again, the writing community is amazing! I’m all snuggly in a cabin with a few awesome bloggers, and have taken a break the past few days to rest my creative juices.

To get ready, I’ve outlined the next 20 chapters or so on notecards, as a general guide for where to go. This is new for me, since I really don’t plan before I write, outside of major concepts and arcs. But, I know that with no direction, and pressure to write everyday, I would find myself coming up blank too often. Here’s the first half of my notecards ready:

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The organization and planning help to lessen the panic, but also make me feel a little stuck and forced. I’m not used to so much planning! Campers, how are you getting ready? Are you meticulously planning every detail out ahead of time, or are you ready to fly by the seat of your pants? If you’re not a camper, then you really should look into it. It’s not as scary as it seems, I promise.

With one day left, I’m feeling nervous, but I’m looking forward to this. I’ll tag all posts under both To Build A Story and CampNano, and I will keep you updated on my progress and my journey as I go through this 🙂

Good luck!

 

To Build A Story

Some of y’all know I’ve been working on a brand new, untitled WIP. Obviously, it is in the very early stages still, but I am loving how it coming along so far. Though I started this blog to share the highs and lows of my journey towards publishing, I thought it would also be nice to share this latest journey, writing a brand new manuscript, from step one. All posts will be under To Build A Story, and I will try to keep consistent updates of where I’m at in the process, what my struggles are, and what I’ve accomplished (You’ll also notice a word count meter tracking my progress in the sidebar).

I hope to be able to share this with those of you embarking on this crazy ride with me 🙂

To start, let me introduce the WIP (though, it will probably be rewritten a dozen times before I’m finished, ha) As of now, it is a YA fantasy set in a somewhat post-apocalyptic world ravaged by shapeshifting monsters called Shadows. Kera is a 16 year old who survives (with her mom and 10 year old sister, Hana) in the harsh northern forests of the wilds. She has lived her whole life believing humans (who live in the distant safehouses) are more dangerous than the Shadows. While scouting for a new den, Kera and her mother encounter human hunters, and are attacked by Shadows. When her mother is ripped, leaving her a mindless shell, and Kera is touched by the Shadow–leaving her with fragmented visions–she must choose whether to face winter alone in the wilds, or turn to the human hunters for help. It is a raw world of survival, mystery, and magic.

So far, I’m really loving the world and the voices in this. It’s very moody and haunting, but also stark and raw. For a long time, I had a lot of scattered ideas about this project, but no clear connection. After a long session with my CP Stephanie, I’ve managed to get the puzzle pieces together, and have finished a bare bones outline. I am 11,500 words in, and so far they’ve been coming easily, though I don’t want to jinx it 🙂

My next big issue to tackle: the title.

I am open to any suggestions. I have considered some things, but nothing has really stuck. Some words I am playing around with include: shadow, bone, ashes, ice, static, mark, chosen.

Look forward to hearing some brilliant ideas! (seriously, I need it)

What’s Your Process?

I found this writing process survey through Sierra on Permashift, (originally from Katy Upperman’s blog) and I loved it, so I just had to steal it! Thanks Sierra!

 

DEMOGRAPHICS:

What genre do you write? My current manuscript is YA science fiction, though I’ve written contemporary and fantasy. I also have a fantasy and a magical realism in the works. I don’t like to limit myself! Basically, I just write whatever idea develops or whatever inspires me most.

How many books have you written? I’ve written four complete manuscripts, but only one is currently worth seeing the light of day. A couple others might have potential, but would need so much rewriting that for now, they’ll just live in my computer.

Are you published? I wish! I only started seeking publication seriously about a month or two ago, but I am trying very hard to make that dream happen!

PLANNING:

How long do you let an idea “simmer” before you start writing? Before I start? I write as soon as the ideas come to mind, just whatever flows without thinking about where it’s going. A lot of times this ends up leading to more ideas. But it takes a while before a whole story and book start to take shape. For a couple months it’s more of a scattered assortment of ideas and tidbits without much direction. Then I’ll usually get a main idea that kind of pieces everything together, and from then on the story really tells itself.

How much pre-story planning do you do in the form of outlines, character sketches, maps, etc.? I constantly have an overload of ideas running around, all in varying stages of half-formed story ideas, characters, etc. I have dozens of notebooks in OneNote going, but I never pre-write or any of that. The few times I have tried, it felt forced and didn’t give my characters any life, just gave them mundane details. I much prefer to let them write themselves.

If you use an outline, what type do you use (snowflake, index card, etc)? I outlined my current WIP since it is a sequel and I knew where I was going with it, but it is still very basic. Key points and ideas I want to reach, so I can stay on track. Otherwise I lose focus about halfway through and never finish!

REVISING:

How many drafts do you usually go through before you’re “done”? Is it ever “done”? But seriously, I could probably rewrite and tweak endlessly. It took about two or three rewrites to get my manuscript ready for reading, with various changes since then. So probably four.

How long does it take you to write a first draft? Depends on so many things. My very first book took about a year, but I was writing very sporadically. For my current WIP, I’m about halfway finished and it’s been about a month. But this is also the first book I’ve had a clear outline and direction ahead of time, and set monthly goals for myself.

How long do revisions usually take you? Forever.

Are your revised drafts substantially different plot-wise from your first draft? Oh, absolutely. My manuscript is entirely different from what it started as. But I think that’s part of no planning and writing wherever it leads me, is I don’t have a set path so a lot of times it takes on directions of its own. Even with my current WIP, I see that happening. I’ve already strayed several points pretty significantly from the outline, but I think that’s the fun part! The unplanned parts, when the story really takes on a life of its own.

If you decide to use this survey to share your writing process, link your post here!