My writing process

Today is a blog tour day! In this relay tour, an author talks all about his or her writing process and then passes the baton to more authors. Last week my friend Mindy McGinnis posted a great article on her blog Writer, Writer, Pants on Fire, which you should definitely check out. She’s one of the more entertaining people on the planet. She passed the baton to me. So here’s my 400 meters or whatever (I’m not a runner; how should I know?):

What am I working on?
As an addict of the annual November ritual known as Nanowrimo, I had two projects in mind in 2013, both of which were sliding into focus simultaneously. Rather than pick one for my all out effort at writing 50,000 words in a single month, I decided to start both of them, which left me at the end of November with two half-novels. One is an awkward romance featuring a heroine with the worst disease you’ve never heard of (call me a John Green wannabe) and the other deals with memory, identity, and moving on (familiar themes?) but with a completely different set-up. Research for the first one requires talking to surgeons and research for the second involved going to Paris. Neither of them is the dark thriller genre that Pretty Girl-13 is purported to be. My job now is to finish both of them.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Given that I never set out with a genre in mind, this is a hard question to answer. I guess what makes my romance different is that it has a very serious medical issue at the heart of it, and I haven’t decided yet if it ends happily like a romance is supposed to. It may end up as a coming of age story or just something that defies labels. The second doesn’t particularly pigeon hole into romance, family drama, or issues. If anything, it is “contemporary” which really means there’s no magic, mystery, or sci-fi. I just like to write stories about people who become more and more real to me and find out what happened to them. That’s where my pantser process comes in.

Why do I write what I do?
I thought I was going to write entry level science fiction for boys. I have that inventory. But my first publication, Pretty Girl-13, decided to be something else. My voice naturally skews teen, and I like seeing the world through the eyes of troubled and/or caring and/or extraordinary teenagers. If I can’t write sci-fi, then I lean toward cutting edge medical issues. After almost applying to medical school, I worked in hospital administration for years. I’ve always been fascinated with the sciences, particularly as they relate to the future of the human species. Some of that sneaks into my writing and some of that leaps in.

How does your writing process work?
I’ve already admitted to being a pantser and to churning out a 50,000-word rough draft each November, so really the question should be “does your writing process work?” It usually takes me 1-2 months to finish that draft and make it presentable, which often includes rewriting the hastily conceived ending. It’s a very quick way to force myself to have a manuscript to work with. In the olden days, prepublication, I solicited feedback chapter by chapter through writing buddies and the Online Writing Workshop for SF&F over the course of many months. Then I sent a revamped second draft to my first readers for fulls, did another revision, etc. For a description of the entire process, see the blog post "Four questions to ask about each draft" that I did for Nanowrimo. With an agent acting as my first gatekeeper now, I tend to do much of the early revision on my own and with the feedback of only two first readers. My agent sees my work much earlier in the process, and ultimately she lets me know if I am on the right track and when I am finished.

Originally posted April 14, 2014.