Friday, March 23, 2012

How Do You Do It? Part One- Fiction


My friend, Tangledlou, over at Periphery, had asked about the writing process. How do you do what you do? I wasn't going to write a post about it. I let those insecurities creep in- why would anyone care? Then, I was asked in my comment section if I'd written about my book- the writing and editing process. I really haven't.  So, in the off chance that someone might be interested, here goes.

I've been writing since I was about 8 years old. I started with poetry- always rhyming and not often making  sense.  I branched out to writing stories when in high school, then essays as part of a college class.  I always had it in my mind that someday I would write books.

After I got married and started having babies, writing was put on the back burner. I went years without writing anything.  Then, one day, I got an idea. And I started writing again.  The inspiration for my fiction usually comes in strange and unexpected ways.  One book idea came when I was driving home one day and thought, 'Wouldn't it be awful if someone just ran out in front of my car and I hit him?'   That book is unfinished, but the story is still there, waiting.

The book I'm trying to get published now took me just over a year to write.  I did it in spurts, never spending a consistent amount of time on it, which is a mistake.  The idea came when I was working with the young women in our church. I saw how so many of these girls struggle with their self-esteem, not knowing how brilliant and talented they are. I started with one girl, Haven, and her two best friends. I've never been able to explain how I get the ideas. Stephen King put it so well when he compared stories to fossils that we uncover as we go.  Sometimes I 'm surprised by what happens to my characters. The ending of this book, honestly, was unexpected to me. But, once I wrote it, I knew it was right.

Editing is something I'm still learning about.  Mr. King suggests you eliminate about ten percent of your words. That sounds harsh, but he repeats the mantra 'Murder you darlings.'  Which is applicable because you really do love your words and it can be hard to hack them to pieces. I learned a lot about editing from David Farland, too. He says "Editing a novel isn't simply a matter of eradicating errors, it's an opportunity to add as many virtues to your work as possible."  That was incredibly helpful to me. I read my work aloud, which gives me a feeling of how it flows.  I've also asked some amazingly intelligent friends to read it and they've given me fantastic feedback.  I would definitely suggest you find someone smarter than you to read your work. It makes a HUGE difference.  A fresh set of eyes can notice things that you simply look over.

Last, (and I hope you're not tired of me mentioning Stephen King, but, here I go again), he says that when you write your first draft, do it with the door shut. I CAN NOT write with someone sitting next to me. Even if they aren't looking over my shoulder, I feel like they might and it completely distracts me. Even my husband, who I love to be with more than anyone, can't be in the room.

Now, I know, many people write with little kids around (my five year-old is running through my room screaming as I type this), that's one of those things you have to find your own solution to. Stephenie Meyer (Twilight) wrote her book with her youngest on her lap. I couldn't have done that, but it worked for her. I'm lucky, I have older kids and am able to have time alone to write. It's a challenge no matter what time of life you're in. If you love writing enough, you'll find a way to find the time. (Like the schedule I wrote about yesterday.)

If you have any questions, I'd be glad to answer. (Not that I consider myself any kind of expert.) Next time, I'll write about my process in blogging. Have a fantastic weekend. (We're going to Hunger Games. I'd love to read about Suzanne Collins writing process!)

Me, staring at my computer.
(picture taken by Noah.)

11 comments:

  1. Yay! This is so interesting. As you know, I'm completely jealous of your ability to write good fiction and I'm so thrilled for this "behind the scenes" look. I'm gonna link you up! Have a very good weekend!

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    1. Thanks for the link-up and for asking the question.

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  2. Having read part of your book, I can't wait to see what happens with Haven and her "gift." I am very excited for it!!!!

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    1. Hope you enjoyed the new chapters.

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  3. I know what you mean about the looking over the shoulder thing. I am pretty okay in a room with others as long as they stay ten or fifteen feet away, but I definitely don't want anyone close enough to see stuff, which is weird, because once it's "finished," I want it out there for everyone to see. :)

    I'm glad you shared your process with us and I'm looking forward to the blog-related sequel.

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    1. That is so true- wanting everyone to see it when it's done.
      Sadly, my kids don't know how to stay that far away from me when I'm writing. They're on my lap, on my back, anywhere they can.

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  4. This is amazingly good advice. Reading aloud has always helped improve my writing, though I still have a ways to go. Perhaps I should hire a chorus to read it so I can do even more "murdering." Wonderful wonderful post.

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    1. Ooh, a chorus. Then, they could sing your praises after they read the work. =0)

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  5. This is all great information. I like your thoughts on editing, and echo your enthusiasm for reading work outloud. This is something I've only recently come upon (where was I during all my writing classes when I'm positive this was suggested?), but I very much think it helps. Helps to feel the rhythm, but also helps me see typos and mistakes I didn't see before for some reason.

    How's the publishing search going? Are you going to workshops and conferences?

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    1. Hmm. Workshops and conferences? No. I'd love to, but it doesn't fit right now. I just entered a contest on a blog where the winner gets their query and first 10 pages in the hands of the blog-owner's agent. Fingers crossed. Other than that, I'll be sending out queries again, soon.

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  6. I too love your thoughts on editing. I can't write with anyone in the room either. It drives me crazy. They can sit on the other side of the room. But I cannot concentrate as well as when I'm alone.

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