Category Archives: Writing Process

Writing Process Blog Tour

For a second when I was writing the title for this post, my brain thought I’d written “Writing Princess”! Oh, goodness.

Anywho, I’ve been a terrible author friend. I was supposed to get my post out this past Tuesday. Unfortunately, I hurt my back while helping my mom move a bunch of furniture and boxes, and I forgot a lot of things this week due to my predicament. I’m all better now (well, mostly), so I’m sitting down to write my post now! Only a couple of days late . . .

Two weeks ago, I was asked by T. J. Alexian if I wanted to participate in a blog tour. It sounded easy and fun, so I agreed. This is the Writing Process Blog Tour, which is a series of linked posts by various authors about their writing process. T. J. says the tour originated with fantasy author Heidi Garrett. The idea is that each author answers four questions about their writing process and then begs and pleads with other authors to join the tour the following week and link back to everyone. So in theory, you should be able to follow the link of the previous authors to trace the tour all the way back to the beginning.

A big thanks to T. J. for thinking of me and asking me to participate! I’m just sorry I wasn’t able to get it all together as planned. =(  Who is T. J. Alexian?

T.J. Alexian lives in Attleboro, Massachusetts in a renovated green Victorian, along with seven ghosts and his long-time (and long-suffering) partner. He also has three kids and one spiritual kid, and their stories and their spirit form the heart and soul of his novel, Pictures of You.

A profiled author in the Writer’s Digest book Writer with a Day Job and an award-winning communications specialist, Pictures of You is Alexian’s first novel, although he has two more being prepared for distribution: The Late Night Show and Confessions of a Diva Rotundo.

And you can find his blog/main website at: http://snapshotsfromeldredge.blogspot.com

And now for the questions! DIG IN!

What am I working on?
Well, right now I’m working hard to put the final touches on A Shadowed Soul so it can be released TOMORROW!! I am so excited for that. It’s taken two years since Rise of the Aligerai to get the second book in a state of readiness, and I couldn’t have done it without the support of my family and friends and one fantastic beta reader (ahem, Kylie, that’s you!).

After that’s finished, I’ll be working on book 3 of the Aligerai series as well as a novel I started for Camp NaNoWriMo in April this year. The working title is Eleanor and Elizabeth, though that is definitely going to change. This one is not set in the same universe as Aligerai and it’s going to be very different from my debut series. I’m actually very much looking forward to finishing this one and getting it out because I’m so excited about what I’m writing! I hope to finish the first draft of E&E this summer and maybe, if all goes well, release by the end of the year.

With E&E, Elizabeth is a merchant’s daughter and Eleanor is the princess of the realm. The king comes up with a contest to win his daughter’s hand in marriage. But when the royal courier delivers an incomplete message and Elizabeth hares off on an adventure for fame and fortune, she thinks she’s going to win a prince’s hand! What happens next is sort of a comedy of errors with a twist at the end.

And then I’m working on and off on another novel set in the Aligerai universe, but focusing on a young woman named Jaelyn Cythri who is a member of the Tainted . . . a story of tragedy, sorrow, and danger.  This one has been difficult to write and so it’s going rather slowly. But anyone who reads A Shadowed Soul will find out more about the Tainted, so be sure to check it out!

How does my work differ from others of its genre?
My series differs from others because my characters are in college and pursuing a college education. I see a lot of books set in high school (or a high school-like setting) or after the main education years, but very few in which the characters are in higher education and dealing with the different sets of problems that college poses. Throw magic into the mix and you’ve got an almost explosive situation.  I’m not sure why college isn’t explored more in fantasy, but I have seen it only rarely used. I can think of only one other book that sort of uses college as a backdrop.

As for my other book projects. . . I can’t think of a good way to talk about their differences without giving something away, and I definitely do not want to reveal spoilers before the books are even out! I will say that I do my best to focus on female characters and write characters that could be real people.

Why do I write what I do?
I find it interesting.  I like to ask “what if” and I think that works its way into my imagination and things go from there. Fantasy is one big What If playground.

But I’m also deeply interested in mythology, and have been since I was a kid. I can remember devouring books about Greek and Roman mythology in elementary school and for the rest of my life I’ve been hooked on myths and legends. They’re fascinating. It’s not a big leap from reading mythology to writing fantasy, and I think mythology has had a very big influence on why I write fantasy instead of another genre.

How does my writing process work?
It tends to vary depending on how I’m feeling on a particular day. But usually an idea pops into my head. I write the idea down in a notebook or in my Ideas doc on the computer. Sometimes I’ll get whole scenes written down based off that one idea and then I just let it sit.

Sometimes the idea goes nowhere. I have about fifteen ideas sitting on my flash drive and they may never get off the ground. But other times, the idea turns into a bigger idea and I start living in that world when I close my eyes. I start fleshing out characters, or characters come to me.

Personally, I think most authors start to sound insane when they talk about their process, especially when they talk about how their characters are formed. It’s like the characters are real people and take on a life of their own. Sara Douglass, an Australian fantasy author, used to say that she felt like her characters were real people and she sometimes imagined them sitting around looking over her shoulder as she wrote. They would go off in a completely different direction from where she intended, and whenever she was about to kill off a character, they would say “Oh no, not again.”  I loved reading that because that happens for me sometimes, too. [I paraphrased what Sara said. To my great sadness, Sara Douglass passed in 2011 and her website is no longer active.]

I’ll either write longhand in a notebook I keep specifically for writing or I’ll type on the computer. I’ve recently started using Scrivener and have used it for Eleanor and Elizabeth. I’ve found it helpful and like a lot of the features.

Then I just take it from there. I try to write every week, since some days I have too crazy a schedule to write daily. I try to participate in NaNoWriMo since it’s a great motivational tool.

The next author . . .

Unfortunately, the folks I contacted either weren’t available or weren’t interested in participating. I haven’t found anyone to pass the torch on to! Eeek!  If you’re an author and you think you’d be interested in doing the next post, contact me. I’m not sure that’s really how it’s supposed to work, but since I couldn’t find anyone in time . . .

Happy reading!

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The Writing Process: Computer vs. Longhand

As far as I can tell, there are three different modalities of writing: computer/word processor, typewriter, and longhand (handwritten). But unless you’re McGee on NCIS, no one uses a typewriter anymore, which leaves just two. Both have their strengths and weaknesses.

[To clarify, while “longhand” can mean cursive writing, it also means just plain ordinary writing, and that’s how I’m using it in this context.]

Computer

computerI think the computer is now the most popular way of writing. The advantages can far outweigh any disadvantages for many writers. With a computer, you can save all your materials in one place, and easily keep track of different versions. You don’t have to print anything out unless you want to, which can be environmentally friendly by saving paper. A computer or computer file is very portable. For example, I save everything to a flash drive, which makes it really easy to take my work from home to the office to a friend’s place, etc., and I don’t have to carry a lot of notebooks or anything with me. I have a mini laptop as well, so for me, it can be very easy to carry around a laptop and the flash drive and write anywhere. Writing on the computer also makes it easy to do research or look something up right when you need to. Some authors find it easier to write more on the computer because they can type faster than they can write on pen and paper. This means they could conceivably get a lot more done in one hour or one day by typing than by using longhand.

However, there are some drawbacks. What if you lose power while you’re writing? If you have an old computer that doesn’t keep a battery charge, you could lose your work the second the power goes out. What if the power goes out and your laptop does have a charge, but only for two hours? Do you switch to pen and paper, or do you have to stop? There are also some places where it would be unacceptable to have a laptop on, such as a family gathering (depends on your family), a date, maybe the office, etc. In those cases, plain old paper would be far more useful. It is also possible for a computer to crash and wipe your work, or download a virus and destroy your work, or Internet sites to crash and you lose access to your work or your backups.

Pros: easy to backup and store multiple versions, easy to store all materials in one place, typing faster than writing, flash drives and Internet very portable, potentially more environmentally friendly
Cons: the power goes out, machines less portable, less acceptable in certain situations, computer crash or virus

Longhand

pen and paperI can’t lie, I love handwriting. Everyone’s handwriting is unique and beautiful, even the chicken scratches. I’ve written before in other places about how magical and beautiful the act of writing with pen and paper can be. Sometimes I can stare at my hand writing the words in my head and I’m simply amazed at how the pen follows my direction and translates my thoughts into something permanent. I don’t get the same feeling when I’m typing on a computer. Writing my work by hand is a completely different feeling, and it’s been my preferred method of writing since I was a kid.

Paper and notebooks are highly portable, and they’re great for places where a computer might not have been practical. I used to write on the Metro on my way to school. There’s no way I would have had a computer out on the Metro, not even my mini. Paper is also better for travel. Who would want to steal a notebook? I just have to make sure I don’t lose it, but other than that, it’s perfectly safe, while my iPad is not.

But even I can see some drawbacks. I am one of those people who types faster than I write. When I write with a pen, I sometimes feel like my brain is working faster than my fingers can move. With a computer, my typing is almost fast enough to keep up with my train of thought, so sometimes I feel like I’m just too slow with a pen. Using paper also means it can be harder to keep track of versions, materials, and ideas. Unless you have a good system in place, it can be easy to misplace ideas or forget which version you’re working on. Also, if you have a lot of research or reference materials on paper and you want to take it with you, you can end up carrying a lot of things you might reference and you might need, but you also might not end up needing them and have carted them around for nothing. The pen and paper method could also be environmentally unfriendly unless you recycle the paper or use recycled paper.

Backing up your work when you use longhand is a huge concern. Unless you make copies of the papers, there really is no way to make a backup of a notebook or your loose-leaf. If you lose a notebook, you could lose everything you worked on. You could type everything up at intervals and have the typed files act as backup, but that can grow cumbersome and time-consuming.

Pros: portable, emotional link, no threat of being stolen
Cons: no real backup, not environmentally friendly, little version control, slower

So which method do you prefer? I use both, but I’m slowly moving in favor of the computer and only using longhand when the mood strikes me.