Writing Process Blog Hop: Hey, they let me on the bus!

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Last week I was tagged in the Writing Process Blog Hop by Sarah J. Carlson, a fellow YA author, and an American living in Singapore! (I might be a little jealous right now.) I would have responded to the invite immediately, but I had a Ninja Training Birthday Party to plan for a six-year-old!

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Now that it’s over, I can concentrate on how honored I am to be included. Blog hops are fun, and so far I’ve enjoyed reading about everyone’s writing process. Besides, it might make me feel a teeny, weeny bit validated. Like I get to sit at the big girl author’s table. Okay, enough fangirling. On to the good stuff.

What Am I Working On?
Currently I am in the midst of what I hope are last revisions for my YA Post-apocalyptic novel I HAVE NO NAME. No, I don’t mean the novel isn’t named yet. It really is called I HAVE NO NAME.

If everyone you know is dead, do you still exist? For one sixteen-year-old plague survivor the answer is no. She’s broken, alone. Hiding from the pain of the past, she tries to forget everything, even her name.

Yeah, I’m still working on hooks and queries and synopsis, but right now I really need to concentrate on this novel. (No, Blog! Stop calling my name. I have work to do!) NO NAME has gone through at least twenty or more rounds of editing and I’m currently cutting a few characters, cutting a few scenes, combining two characters into one while giving him a new personality and adding him to the existing love triangle. Whew! It’s a lot of work, but I think will be satisfying in the end. I know, everyone is sick of love triangles, but this has a purpose, really. And adding this combo-character to the mix makes it more of a love quadrilateral, I think.

Besides the novel, which should be my primary focus right now, I’m also trying to get this blog off the ground. So far, I’m pleased with the results.

How Does My Work Differ From Others of Its Genre?
I have no idea! I read a lot of YA books and some in the Post-apocalyptic/Survival genre, but I never set out to be different. I just had a story to tell and I told it. The one thing I might do differently than some novelists is I don’t try to make you like my characters. They are who they are and their story must come out. I don’t change what they say or do because I think it will offend or attract anyone. This is what they as the people I imagine would do. No apologies. In fact, my husband at one point in reading the book said, “I don’t really like her (my MC) right now.” And one of my betas said something similar: “I don’t know if I like your MC.” My husband was referring specifically to something she was doing and later said he got over it. My beta never really said more than that. But as far as I’m concerned I’m doing something right. My MC doesn’t always need to be likable. But she does need to be real and believable. If I achieve that, I’m happy.

Why Do I Write What I Write?
Because I’m a storyteller. I always have been. My imagination runs wild and I’m always thinking, “What if?” As to specifically the novel I’m writing now, it’s because I had a dream. When I woke the next morning, I couldn’t get the story out of my head.

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It played over and over, morphing and developing into something different. The characters became alive with personalities and back stories and lives that needed to be lived. I was working on something different at that point and spent almost two years mentally developing the idea and keeping notes in a notebook. The girl’s story was almost completely realized before I ever wrote a word. It was just something that couldn’t stay inside me.

How Does Your Writing Process Work?
As I hinted in the previous para, I’ll get an idea and let it stew for awhile. Maybe I’ll do research passively or keep a notebook if the idea has its hooks in me, jotting down scenes that should happen, motivations, back story, personalities, whatever comes to mind. When I’m actually ready to write I usually have the whole thing laid out in my head. For my first novel I outlined, but this one I didn’t need to. It was there, like a movie I’d watch so many times I knew every line by heart. But even though the story was already told, that doesn’t mean I’m not open to change. The book is written organically, scenes and characters changing as they see fit. Sometimes I’ll be typing away and the scene and characters flow into what they should be, despite what I might have imagined earlier. Or a character’s motivation or personality trait will come shining through, where I had never even thought about it before. Very rarely do I have to rack my brains for what will happen or why it happens or what a character is like. These things just pour from my fingers into the keyboard and out onto the empty whiteness of my screen.

I liked what C.S. Boyack said on his blog stop about re-reading your last chapter before you get started for the day. When I’m writing (as in not editing or revising) I often find this helpful to get back into the flow of things. It allows me to fully immerse myself back into the world I’ve created, back into the head of my character and move forward. I can always tell when I was writing just to get something on paper and when I’m really and truly into my story. But those days when I can’t mentally be there 100% are fine too. That’s what editing and revising are for. If I can get it down, get through it, and come back later to make it better, it’s just part of the job. Besides, sometimes this is a red flag for something that needs to be cut or whittled down. If I’m bored writing it, my readers are going to through the book against the wall!

Once I’ve finished a rough draft, I’ll edit and revise a couple of times before I let a few trusted friends and family have a read. More revisions, and then I’ll seek out beta readers. More revision. That’s where I am now. Having revised so many times, and received opinions and advice from quite a few people (writers and non-writers) I’m ready to move forward, just as soon as I get a last bit of tweaking done. Knowing myself, a manuscript will never be good enough in my eyes to submit, so at some point you have to say enough is enough. I’m not making this better, just different. That’s when you need to decide what your next move is.

Passing the torch:
E.J. McGrorey at 90,000 Words is a mother, a wife, a digital communications specialist and aspiring author in Sydney Australia. Oh, and on top of it all she’s also studying for a Master of Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Technology, Sydney. So, you, know, a total under-achiever!
Paige Randall is a DC based writer of Contemporary Romance and has recently finished her first novel Circling.
Jodie Llewellyn like my first tag is another Aussie. Australia has some great bloggers and Jodie is an aspiring YA author like myself.

Check them out soon to see their posts on the Writing Process Blog Hop!

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17 thoughts on “Writing Process Blog Hop: Hey, they let me on the bus!

  1. Those ninjas look fierce! Your novel sounds very interesting and sounds like it’s at about the same place as mine lol. I kind of want to set mine on virtual fire at the moment 😛 Love fellow YA writers 🙂

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      • Gahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. I find that when I need to start cutting at the word level, I do better when I print it all out and take a pen to it. I don’t know why, but my brain just does better that way 😛

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      • I can see where that would work better but I think my printer would have a meltdown if I printed all that. I find I need to read through and just cut, cut, cut mercilessly. I look for repetition, filter words and unnecessary back story. But it’s still hard! I never understand when fellow writers on Absolute Write complain about their stories being too short. Really? I could write 3 books with all I’ve cut!

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      • Haha that is EXACTLY like my writing lol. Most recent novel length is 82,000 words with at least 60,000 cut words saved in other documents lol

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      • My final word count for first draft was 110,00 on this one. 130,000 on my first novel ever. Right now I’ve got it down to 98,000, but I still have chapters to rewrite and a lot of other editing to do. I set myself an end of June goal, but I guess we’ll see!

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  2. My writing process goes something like this:

    1. Get idea.
    2. Become super-excited about said idea.
    3. Begin researching stuff for story.
    4. Become completely distracted by tangents in the research.
    5. Finally get back on track and start writing. 🙂

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