Recently, Tiffany Dailey sent me a few questions for a blog tour type of thing, and they seemed like fun, so I thought I’d answer them.
1) What am I working on?
Currently, I have two projects on the front burners, so to speak, and several projects that circulate on the back burners.
I know, that’s vague and unhelpful, but right now, the two front burner projects couldn’t be more different if they tried, and it may turn out that I don’t do one of them (if they just don’t gel like I expect, or contracted work gets in the way). The back-burner projects are spin-offs of my Bobbie Faye series, and another short-thriller series I’m working on. In my copious spare time.
As for those front burner subjects, I can only vaguely tell you that they’re both historical thrillers in their way, but one is of this world… and one is not.
2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Well, really, if a writer has a voice and a point of view, their work should be different from everyone else’s work by default. I tend to write very cross-genre stories, mostly because that’s what appeals to me, but also, that’s just how the stories beg to be told. Or rather, maybe it’s that I can’t not write them that way, and the fault lies in my voice.
3) Why do I write what I do?
Again, we’re back to voice and choices, and who I am determines what I do. I’m interested in misfits, and how we do (and don’t) fit in, and how that shapes us, forces choices on us. I’m also interested in honor, and what we’ll sacrifice for it, how we handle those challenges to our morals, to our beliefs and principles, and what we’ll give to uphold those principles. Combine the two, and threaten them both, and I’m in story nirvana.
4) How does my writing process work?
Very messily. I tend to circle around a project idea, poking at it, doubting it, watching it flare with bits and pieces of inspiration, ’til it catches fire and I have to tend it, care for it, work at it to fan it into something useful, real, full of burning passion (to beat that metaphor to the ground).
Once I have settled on a story, and it’s living and breathing in me in such a way that I can’t not think about it, I tend to start hearing the voices of the characters, see the settings, see scenes snap open in front of me as if I were watching a film. These scenes aren’t always chronological, and don’t necessarily always make it into the book, but they often do.
I tend to have to get the opening to a satisfactory point before moving on. That doesn’t mean it’ll stay the way I’ve written it–it often changes in subsequent drafts as I’ve gotten to know the characters better and their world and dilemma, and the fury and passion they have for what’s at stake for them. But I get something on the page that feels like a beginning, like the right place to jump off, and then I tend to write chronologically.
Somewhere along the way of the brainstorming, though, I tend to storyboard the book, using what I’ve learned from when I was a screenwriter to get the structure to hang together. Storyboarding tends to keep me from losing track of pacing and helps me see the book as-a-whole, and that tends to help me deepen those character issues, building a world that resonates for even the minor characters. Sometimes this act of outlining in storyboard form is just quick sketches on a whiteboard, (sketch in the sense of brief one-sentence descriptions of major turning points), or it can get detailed, with scene cards (in Scrivener) and photos and links, all tucked into a file where I can find what I need.
Mostly, though, it’s just butt-in-chair, writing. I’ll get a good rough draft, and it may be ugly as sin, but it’d a draft, and from their, I can edit.
I love the editing process, because it’s where I take something lumpy and homely and start carving away, adding in what’s needed, and refining and refining and refining until the story starts to evoke what I had hoped for back when I poked at it and doubted it in the beginning. And I fret and worry and talk to friends, and send it out for reads with friends, and listen to their feedback when it resonates, and discard what doesn’t work for me (which is probably the most difficult thing to learn to do as a writer–when to listen, and what to listen to).
Eventually, I send it to my agent, get her feedback, polish some more, and then, with fingers crossed, hope like hell it’s done, because by then, I’m generally fairly ready to move on.