Saturday, December 6, 2014

My Writing Process: Semi-Random Thoughts

This is an early morning post. I agreed to help judge a speech and debate tournament at my school, something I enjoy doing. But I'm typing at 6:11am with only two sips of coffee in me, so I hope this post makes sense. I don't have anything to say about my process this morning that I feel like would make up an entire post, so I thought I would toss out a few shorter thoughts.

First, I don't seem capable of writing without dream sequences. I've had at least one in each of the three books about Harry and Dee. The one that just happened in the third one was probably the most overtly not-just-a-dream-but-being-communicated-to-through-your-dreams of all of them, though Dee says in the second one that someone came to her in a dream and told her something. That only half counts because she told Harry, so it was kind of like it was offstage.

Second, and this was really driven home to me this week, is that I am definitely a pantser and I like it. I learned that term from a blog by another writer. There are plotters, who have a complete outline of the entire book before they ever write it. Some even go so far as to storyboard. On the other end of the spectrum are pantsers, or people who fly by the seat of their pants. That's me. I have an overarching story arc and that's it. I know where I'm starting and, in general, where I'm ending, but the rest is completely unplanned. In Kisses and Lies (coming out next summer), I planned it a little more than Harsh Prey and book 3, but only because of the nature of it. I had two independent storylines that had to be knit together at some point, but even that became pretty organic. They came together when they wanted to.

I said this concept really hit home this week. Here's what I'm talking about. Confession time: sometimes when my students are taking tests or writing essays, I sneak in some writing time. Does that make me evil? Probably. Will I continue to do it? Assuredly. But this week, as my kids toiled away on a practice AP essay, I pulled up book 3. After reviewing the work I'd done a couple days ago, I started a new scene in which Harry is sitting at Dee's bedside in the hospital. I won't reveal more of the plotline, but, without Harry or me knowing it, Harry falls asleep and talks to someone he loves. I say it was without me knowing it because I never had any intention of having a dream sequence, which goes back to my first point, so I guess this post isn't as random as I thought. Even as a blogger I'm a pantser. But back to my point--as I wrote the scene, it was so emotionally moving to me and so surprising, that I found a tear leaking from my eye.

Now let me stop and make something clear. I'm not trying to imply that I'm such a good writer that I can even move myself to tears. I am probably the only person who will ever cry at that scene. What I'm trying to say is that part of the joy of writing like I do is that sometimes what happens in the story is just as much of a fun surprise to me as it ever could be for the reader. These characters have become so real to me that they've taken on a life of their own and pretty much do what they want. I'm just the vessel by which their stories reach the page.

As I read that, it makes me think I may be a little nuts. But I'm pretty sure I'm okay with that.

PS--I would be remiss if I didn't mention the launch party for Harsh Prey. It was beyond my greatest hopes! There was a nice crowd there, made up of a lot of people I really love. It was the perfect way to launch my first book--surrounded by folks I know support and love me. And I sold every copy I had to sell! Here's a link to my webpage, where you'll find pics from the event. And, of course, here's a link to Amazon, where you can purchase Harsh Prey.

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