Blog Hop: My Writing Process

It’s blog hop time! I’ve been tagged by the lovely Aussie writer Ellen Gregory, who adores both fantasy and travel (sound familiar?). The idea with this one is to answer four questions, then tag three other awesome writers to answer the same questions on their own blogs in a week or so. If you’re the sort who loves to read about the writing process, then do be careful or you could be lost down the rabbit hole forever….

Please enjoy a picture of one of my notebooks, with bonus hand-knit socks.

Please enjoy a picture of one of my notebooks, with bonus hand-knit socks.

1. What am I working on?

I’m currently editing a YA historical fantasy novel, with plans to query agents once it’s done. I’ve also just finished a serial story set in a fantasy version of Thailand (the fifth and final part of the serial will be posted next month). My next project will be to revamp the serial into a single (longish) short story.

What I’ve mentioned so far happens to be fantasy, but I also write other types of speculative fiction — steampunk, science fiction, Gothic — and sometimes even non-genre fiction.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

One answer is that I often write at the border between YA and adult. (New Adult, I guess you’d say, except that NA is usually contemporary and mine usually isn’t.) Another is that I think my writing has an essential optimism that shines through…the sense that yes, your place in the world is out there and you will find it, even if you have to cross the world or fight your way through larger events or live through years of your adult life to get there.

3. Why do I write what I do?

Because speculative fiction makes my heart sing.

Because when I say “I wish I could write like that” or “As a reader, I loved that book to pieces”, it’s usually speculative fiction I’m talking about.

Because it makes my inner 12-year-old happy, and she’s important to me.

Because making up worlds, genre-bending, and mashing elements together to see what sticks…is fun.

Because I want to see more like what I write. Much as I love medieval Europe, there are whole other civilizations out there, and I want to see them in fantasy too.

Because I love the moment when I stumble on a genre mash-up, or a crazy worldbuilding thing, and think, “You can DO that?!” (Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere blew my mind back in high school. So did discovering steampunk, sometime later. So do most of my favourite writers, even now.)

Because I love the tropes of the genre.

Because the sky’s the limit.

4. How does my writing process work?

I like to say I’m a reformed pantser (seat-of-the-pants writer) or headlight writer (you can only see as far as your headlights). My short stories are often still written that way. And I’m gradually moving from longhand to typing, even in the brainstorming and outlining stages…which were the last to go.

For longer works, I usually start with a lot of brainstorming, research, backstory, and character development — not via questionnaires or “outtake” scenes or dialogues, just jotting down lots of notes. Then I develop a very broad outline with the opening/setup and major turning points (act breaks). There’ll be some one-liner descriptions for scenes in there too, mostly in the first quarter of the story, getting nebulous very quickly. Or, in other words, more or less what Ellen said.

When it comes time to start writing, I prefer to draft quickly so I don’t lose the feel of the story or the overarching plot. NaNo works great for this, even if it means that what I end up with is rough.

And what happens after that? I do have some trusted critiquers, but I’m still working on finding a process for editing that works for me. If you have any advice, please share!


And the tagged writers are…

  • Erin Zarro — writer of science fantasy, and of poetry
  • KD Sarge — writer of science fiction romance, with shenanigans
  • Kit Campbell — writer of paranormal romance, with banter

12 responses to “Blog Hop: My Writing Process

  1. jodiellewellyn

    This is a cool tag post 🙂 Better than all those awards, I think.

  2. Thanks! You’re right, it’s a little deeper than most…I had fun digging into my brain to find answers. Feel free to consider yourself tagged, if you’d like to!

  3. Hey, your notebook looks like my notebook!
    Yeah, sounds like we have similar processes – except for writing the first draft FAST. I’m really slow. And “headlight” writer – I like that term.
    Keep plugging away with that edit and good luck.

  4. Thank you, Ellen! To be honest, that’s not my usual writing notebook — I prefer ones that are 25 X 20 cm (9 X 7 inches, for the Americans), but still coil-bound. It was my travel diary from last year. 🙂

  5. “a reformed pantser” – I like that! We are all on that continuum, and you sound closer to the Pantser end. As far as Edit goes? I’m still finding that process too…

  6. My editing process is pretty simple. I like to get feedback as soon as I have a draft written in, you know, English (as opposed to first-draft-scramble), and I’ve been using Margie Lawson’s deep edits system, too. And I LOVE your reasons for writing speculative fiction, Siri. They make perfect sense to me.

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  9. I’m very much interested in your fantasy Thailand story. My currently-in-stasis-while-I-practice-revision-skills-with-shorter-pieces novel takes place in a fantasy China, so stories that draw inspiration from cultures other than European ones intrigue me a lot.

    And I think some of our reasons for writing speculative fiction are fairly similar 🙂

  10. Suzanne, thanks! I think the “reformed” bit is mostly due to my discovery of the three-act structure. It gives me just enough structure without locking down my creativity.

    Liv, English vs. first-draft-scramble, I like that! You keep mentioning Margie Lawson…might have to investigate. And thank you. 🙂

    Mike, fantasy China sounds wonderful. I’ve also written two novels (“trunk” novels, alas) set in a fantasy version of ancient Egypt — and like you, I’m always curious about books that use atypical settings. Hmm, that could be fodder for a future blog post….

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