First, I need to thank the excellent Joy McCullough-Carranza for tagging me in this My Writing Process blog tour. I have a strange way of inadvertently following in Joy's footsteps when it comes to my career and this is no exception. In 2007 my theatre directing career had stalled out and I was tired of the artistic slog of trying to produce my own shows. A friend who happened to be the Artistic Director of Live Girls! Theater offered me my first directing gig working with a living playwright. That play was Mud Angel by Joy. Not long after that experience I decided to throw my energy behind playwriting instead of directing. Which, in turn, has led to writing novels. Well, novel. Novice noveling.
What Am I Working On?
I have two projects in the works at the moment:
- a Steampunk play commissioned by Live Girls!
- a Paranormal Romance Series I'm writing with my sister under the name Dana Davis.
Why Do I Write What I Write?
I live to create worlds. Whether I'm writing a play that takes place 1000 years ago in Japan, a modern-day honky-tonk musical set in Branson, Missouri or a Greek-myth inspired vampire romance novel, the world of the story is my driving force. The works that inspire me always have fully realized worlds different from the one I live in. From comic books to Shakespeare to Tolkien to Veronica Mars I'm a sucker for genre fiction.
As for why I’m writing a romance novel, I wanted to do a project with my sister. I wanted to try my hand at something specific and commercial and I wanted to write something fun that I WANTED to read. I enjoy romance novels and I wanted to read one that kept all the elements I loved and left out the ones that made me cringe. Writing it has been an education and a half.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Every writer brings their unique blend of influences to whatever project they're working on. I bring a sense of the theatrical (which includes an ear for dialogue and voice), a geeky pedigree (my love of Tolkien, comics and video games dates from the eighties), an abiding love of Jane Austen (I may read P&P aloud to my family every year) and a passion for musicals (have you seen Glee? Yeah, that was me in high school - for serious).
How does my writing process work?
I develop a different work process for every project I work on. Naturally, there are some similarities:
Once the seed of a story or world takes root in my mind I let it grow on its own for a while to see if its got the strength to survive. My life is busy; I have a full time day job and twin kids under 5 so a story really needs to be told if I'm going to be the one to tell it.
The first step I generally take is to write down everything I can think of about the idea. This tends to happen while waiting at the doctor's office or on my lunch break so I find these notes on the backs of handouts or, occasionally, on actual napkins. Cliché!
When I sit down to draft I try to get a strong image of the scene I'm going to write in my head before I begin. What does it smell like, sounds, lighting, etc. Then I drop my characters into the scene and try to capture what they show me. This probably comes from my theatre roots. I often get stalled until I find that right location to work with. Pinterest can be an awesome help for this part of the process. Then I try to write chronologically.
Sometimes that even works.
When I get stuck I go back and reread; this almost always leads me down a path I hadn't intended when I was writing but it's where the parts I actually got into the document want to go. I revise constantly as I go forward. I don't actually recommend this as a process, I think it slows me down and can make me focus on details instead of the big picture. It can also make the process take a lot longer. But, as you may have gleaned, I don't have the most organized mind, so this is what I have evolved thus far.
When I’ve got a draft, I force myself to have a deadline: a big, public deadline. When it's a play that means I set up a reading with actors, a director and designers. When that's a book, it means I set up beta readers and tell them when I am going to give them a copy of the book. As time approaches I know that people are counting on me to deliver. I am forced to arrange my priorities to give my work the time it needs so I'm not embarrassed when I present it to others.
I do a few rounds of revisions following whatever feedback I receive from my presentation. Then I polish, read aloud, read printed copies, read again, fiddle, worry, read some more and then send off to a couple critique partners when I think I'm done.
Then I take a break. If I can. If I don't have another project already lined up. I normally have another project lined up. Okay, I'd like to take a break but I don't.
Next Monday, I’m inviting you to meet some awesome writer friends of mine and read about their writing processes.
Be sure to check them out next Monday to hear all about their writing processes!