How do you write? What’s your method?
There are two types of writers: those who plot it out, and those who don’t. I’ve tried not plotting a novel in advance. I ended up with over a thousand pages of meandering plot lines, mishmashed character motivations, and horrible pacing. Ever since, I plot.
With each book, I’ve changed and refined my process. In short, I collect all the ideas I have for a novel and arrange them in an exciting plot outline. I save all the unused good ideas for another book. Before I ever begin to write, I make sure that (1) the plot is complete, and (2) I’m excited about writing every piece of the book, and if I’m not, I rework those ideas now rather than later. I also do character work-ups to get familiar with my main characters. Then I write. I follow my outline, but when a new idea pops up in the middle of writing, I don’t ignore it. If it works, I adjust my outline. If it doesn’t, into the idea file it goes. Then editing commences, and that’s its own special process.
What is your writing schedule?
After being woken by soft sunlight on my face, eating a nutritious breakfast and drinking green juice prepared by my live-in chef, and doing a little yoga and meditation, I write, stopping only to eat a gourmet lunch. When I reach my daily word-count goal of 8,000 words (usually by midafternoon), I spend the rest of my day swimming and daydreaming of new plot ideas.
Okay, maybe not.
In the real world, I write until I reach my daily word-count goal (usually 3,000 words). Sometimes this happens before lunch, sometimes not until after dinner. If I finish early, I do research or prep for the next project in the pipeline, and there’s always business details to take care of. When I’m editing instead of writing, it’s the same process, but with a page-count goal instead of a word-count goal.
Where do you get your ideas?
I get my ideas the same place as most writers, artists, and inventors: while loading the dishwasher. And driving. And brushing my teeth. There’s a certain quality of thought (or lack thereof) during these rote tasks that encourages the brain to escape to somewhere more exciting and diverting. By the same token, these mundane tasks require just enough concentration to prevent you from thinking serious thoughts, and they enable snippets of facts and ideas and what-ifs to meld together until you realize you’ve been standing with the same dirty plate in your hand for minutes, lost in another world entirely.
If you were looking for a more specific answer, check my blog. Occasionally I can pinpoint the moment an idea grabs hold of my imagination. If you were hoping my answer would open new realms in your own imagination, I would suggest you start researching any and everything that interests you, all at once, and never stop. The more things you learn, the more possibilities are unlocked in your imagination.
I also find that once I have an idea, it helps to sit down, start a fresh document, and freeform type until I run out of thoughts. Some pretty interesting stuff bubbles up during these brainstorming sessions.
How many novels did you write before you knew you were ready to publish?
One. Then I realized that while I was ready to publish, my writing was not. So I sat back down and wrote four more novels, two partial novels, and a novella. I also took creative writing classes, read books on the craft of writing, and received lots of feedback from writers I trusted. And I read a lot. I read for pleasure, and I reread the best books to dissect them to figure out what worked so well and why.
What I learned: There’s a lot more to creating a novel than having an interesting main character or a sizzling plot or beautiful prose—it’s an amalgamation of all the above, plus tone, style, pacing, dialog, word count, and more. Most of these lessons I learned the hard way. I wrote a thousand-page novel that should have been two hundred pages long. I wrote two books without third acts. I wrote a five hundred page novel that didn’t have a cohesive voice and really started about two hundred pages in. I wrote three hundred pages into a novel before realizing I didn’t like the story and abandoned it.
Eventually, I had a novel I could be proud of, and that’s when I finally published A Fistful of Evil.
Why do you write fantasy?
I write fantasy for the same reason I read fantasy: I love it. It’s where my imagination always goes. Plus: magic.
I’ve got a great idea for a story. Can you write it for me?
Getting a story idea is like having a dream; writing a story is like translating that dream so others see and experience it just as you did.
In other words, the ideas are the easy part. Writing is the time-consuming, far more difficult (and rewarding) part. More important, you’re the only one who can write your story. It exists in your imagination. You know it intimately. Do your story justice by giving it the attention it deserves: your attention.
Do you have any writing tips?
I have the same advice as every other author out there: read a lot and write a lot. Even better, take some writing classes, critique other people’s writing and have them critique yours, and get comfortable with editing. And rewriting. And editing some more.
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