The Way I Write: My Writing Process Blogtour

I’ve been tagged in the My Writing Process blogtour by my (wise and always on point(e)) critique partner Becka Paula! You can see her post here. I’m a few days late (oops). Been a crazy week.

What are you currently working on?

I’m currently drafting Serenade2 (see exciting announcement here!), revising a secret balletbook project, and in between that, working on a YA contemporary codenamed Firetower. I’m terribly head over heels in love with everything I’m working on right now, so that’s always a fun bonus! I’m also anticipating getting Serenade1’s edits back soon so I’ll have to switch gears to focus all my energy there.

How does my work differ from others in its genre?

(To be honest, I don’t love how this question is framed. I’ll do my best?) Serenade is a New Adult Romance with (at least, what I think is) a literary bent. It has less banter and less sex than other NA romances, and at least in the first book I play with structure a little bit as well. But like many NAs, Serenade deals with characters struggling with grief, a complicated past, and hesitations about moving forward with their romantic relationship. As New Adult is a growing category, I think Serenade’s another example of the directions this can go.

My YA novels really tread in the footsteps of the bold explorers that have come before me. There’s nothing you don’t find in YA these days, and done really well in most cases.

Why Do I Write What I Write?

I write the story I want to tell. No matter what form that takes. In my folders of to be finished WIPs, I have a magical realism adult book set in Russia, a NA literary sci-fi, and a middle grade, on top of literally dozens of YAs and NAs. A lot of the stories I want to tell are either YA or NA because I love stories that explore the way our identities and where we fit in the world are constantly morphing and changing, and how the decisions we face are almost never black and white. YA and NA grapple with those ideas up close and personal better than almost any other category.

In general, I like to write new friendships, people with mental health issues (including PTSD, anorexia, depression, bipolar disorder, OCD), and impossible romances that may or may not work out. In some of my books, those romances play out well for everyone…and in others they don’t, because love is messy and imperfect, and we’re all going to be okay, even if our hearts are broken.

How does my individual process work?

I’m a planner. I outline, typically 1k of an outline for every 10k of novel I’m expecting to write. I still deviate within that outline a little bit (I just did this morning! Shhh. Don’t tell) but for me, this speeds up my writing process quite a bit. In general, I fast-draft my first draft. I can’t fix what isn’t written and if I let myself worry too much, I’ll get caught in a vicious cycle of self-doubt and guilt and it’ll never get written. So I write my first draft off that outline as quickly as I can manage.

Then I revise in specific passes. If I know I’ve changed anything plot/character-wise partially through the draft, I’ll go through to smooth out big bumps. I’ll try to balance out my chapters, smooth out any time discrepancies, and do fact checking on world building during this Big Bump Revision Pass.

Then I’ll do a few nitpicky passes, looking for filtering, dialogue tags, and tensing (I almost always have tensing issues in my first drafts) before I read it aloud to myself. That helps me find a lot of sentence structure errors. Usually at this point, I’ll know if it’s ready for my CPs or not.

When I have CP feedback, I go back and integrate that one layer at a time. After, or during that, I’ll do a couple of more revision passes. On secretballetbook project, I did a pass for tension and pacing. Then I did a pass for setting. And then I did another pass for dialogue, to make sure they were dancing as much as possible in their verbal interactions.

And for the first time, after I get my final feedback from my CPs, I’ll send off to my agent for hers before this goes to my editor!

(SQUEE!)

For me, first drafts are like dumping the puzzle box onto the table. It gives me all the pieces I need. Then in the first round of revisions, which can be pretty short and easy, it’s finding the edge pieces and corner pieces, the places that frame the story and give me boundaries. Then I start working on specific things, like I said above, the same way that you might work first on a flower or a waterfall, instead of jumping all over the place in the puzzle. Everyone approaches puzzles differently, and everyone approaches writing differently!

 

That’s all for me!

I’ve tagged good Twitter writer friends Mark O’Brien and Nita Tyndall. Because mine was late, I told them they could post theirs anytime next week!

Seventeen-year-old Mark O’Brien has been writing seriously for three years, and he is working on his fifth novel. When not on Twitter, he can be found solving crimes or saving the world. Unfortunately, he is always on Twitter. Visit him at http://markobrienwrites.blogspot.com.

Nita Tyndall is a tiny Southern queer with a penchant for sweet tea, cardigans, and words. She’s been writing since she was five, and her first piece was Scooby-Doo fanfiction in bright pink, all caps font—though now she prefers to write about sad teenagers. She’s currently in college attempting to get an English degree, and briefly was a college columnist for the lesbian webmagazine, Autostraddle. You can find her on tumblr at nitatyndall where she occasionally writes about YA and queer things, or on Twitter at @NitaTyndall

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