I’ve seen the “writing process blog tour” going round the blogosphere and it was so interesting to read about all the different writers’ work. Many thanks to Elizabeth Kaiser of E. Kaiser Writes-A-Blog for tagging me! I’m excited to join in. I’d like to tag whomever wants to do this—I would love to hear these answers from any of you!
1. What are you working on?
I’m working on what I currently call The Alice Quest. I like the title, so as long as it continues to stick with the story, I’ll keep it (so far, so good). It’s a historical mystery and a fractured novel, set mostly in the present day with Amy Brown as the point-of-view character, with occasional excursions to Alice Prescott’s day and age to see things from her perspective. Amy is trying to help her grandmother discover what happened to Alice after she disappeared from her home in Oak Park, a town on the edge of Chicago, in 1906. Alice was Tabitha Brown’s great-aunt, and the mystery has haunted the generations of Tabitha’s family for over a hundred years.
2. How does your work differ from others of its genre?
Well … this is a good question, and the answer is one that editors want to know when you submit your query letter to them. But I’ve never been very good at answering it. I can only think of two books I’ve read that are a mystery split between the present and the past, and there were differences enough between them and mine. Mine might differ from the majority of this genre because of its focus on a conservative homeschool family. Traveling plays a large role in my story, which I don’t think is true to all others of its genre, either. I think that’s what distinguishes all my contemporary novels … they’re longish, show an appreciation for the past, and explore the characters of homeschooling families.
3. Why do you write what you write?
Although I hope to publish straight historical fiction someday, I write contemporary fiction today because the present is what I know, and I’m very exacting of myself when it comes to accuracy. I also like uniqueness and filling in gaps; there aren’t nearly enough books about contemporary homeschooling families. Reading about something you’re halfway familiar with is comforting, and seeing how heroic and interesting homeschoolers are is encouraging to us, I know! I like showing that our contemporary life has all the potential of a book life (within reason, of course!).
4. How does your writing process work?
Well, I’ll start with the beginning, because I’m a very sequential person and so that’s the best place for me to start; otherwise I’ll get muddled. Hmm. Hopefully this will be halfway interesting.
Somehow an idea will get sparked in my mind, from a dream or from something I’ve always liked (such as England, Israel, dolphins, antiques, genealogy, martial arts) and I’ll think about it for months or years before I write anything down. When I’m ready, I’ll feed and water it by asking who, what, where, when, etc. Then I record it in either a notebook or a computer document and make character sketches. When I have characters, that’s when I know I have a story. They call to me to write their tale. I go on developing from there—how long depends on the story—and just when I start to feel I’m getting bogged down in details, I start writing. When that happens is a very good hour. I write, develop more details off-manuscript, plan two or three scenes ahead of where I’m writing, and at varying times, when I feel like it, I pull back and look at the story as a whole and make sure I’m going in the right direction. If needed, I add or fill in more sub-themes. I like trying to see an overarching woven pattern. My actual typing process is slow; I edit as I go because I can’t stand the thought of leaving a mess behind me (I’m like that in physical life, too—I prefer keeping things clean as I go) and on good days I write a page of type; on super good days I write 1,000 words or more. “Deliberate” is probably a good word to describe my writing process. Sometimes I feel self-conscious about it; that I’m doing something wrong because it takes me a while or because my imagination doesn’t always outrun my words, but this is the process I always fall back on, so it must be mine to keep. I have much to learn yet, and hopefully will improve overall, but we must all remember that each writer is different. So, if your process works for you, don’t feel bad that you don’t craft your stories like other people do! God made us all different, and each story needs a different way of telling it.
Ahem. That was a very, very long paragraph and then I got to preaching at the end, so I’d better finish up before I type another fat paragraph. After I sense that I’ve written the end of the story, I let it sit for several weeks before I go back and edit. That’s easier and almost as much fun as the writing of it! After that comes beta readers … and you know the rest.
If you don’t want to do the whole questionnaire, maybe you’d like to answer one or two of the questions in the comments below! Don’t forget, this can include nonfiction!