Wednesday, February 8, 2012

WIPlash Wednesdays- Questions from Mary Ellen & Katie

Writers are not just people who sit down and write. They hazard themselves. Every time you compose a book your composition of yourself is at stake.
~E.L. Doctorow~

Mary Ellen T.- Is your book about your life or someone you may know? I wonder how you can put everything together for a book.

Everything I write is fiction, so no, my book, nor any others I release, will be about my life or anyone I know. As a writer I know that parts of who I am, and those I love, are woven into the fabric of the story, but I never write myself or others intentionally. I do think it just comes with the territory that, as a writer, our stories are who we are, without ever meaning to be because they come from the heart of us.

(the 2nd half of Mary Ellen's comment also kind of blend
s into Katie's below)
Katie M.- Do your plots just come to you?

Putting together a story for me is rather free form. Sometimes plots come to me freely, spinning out off something I heard, saw or imagined. Some of those ideas percolate in my dreams, but being I'm a pantser (write by the seat of my pants), I don't plot or outline the stories in great detail.

In 2006, when I first started writing with the serious intentions of getting published, pretty much every story I had started with bare bones- character names, a general idea about what they do for a living, how they might get thrown together, what kind of conflict could exist between them and a tentative title.

All the stories I've written so far stem from those. In truth, I'm still working on writing all the ideas I already have jotted down and it hasn't been until more recently that several ideas sprung from the well I thought was dry. The only problem is that until I finish some of my others, the new ones have to be put on the back burner.

How did the new ones come to me? I fell asleep one night with all the thoughts racing in my mind and when I woke up they were still there, burning into my brain, so I wrote them down. Doesn't happen often, but I figured it was worth taking notes. Some have followed me to bed and taken their sweet time to congeal over long periods. The majority of them though, I wrote in a month, taking my cue from my participation in NaNoWriMo- conforming my writing patterns to nailing down the first rough draft within 30 days. I tend to produce a lot more when I work under such tight self-imposed deadlines.

How do you keep all the back stories straight?

Keeping the back stories straight is usually pretty easy. I don't outline, but I do usually keep a list of all characters, main and secondary, in a notebook wherein I also keep track of how scenes play out, how characters are connected (family, friends, coworkers, acquaintances- I've even jotted a sketchy-at-best family tree, just to make sense of how many siblings there are), how long the chapters run, and make notes of things to come as I'm writing or even research I've done online for certain things like preparation of certain meals or dishes or decorating jargon, rodeo information, the Hollywood Walk of Fame and Grauman's Chinese Theater, or when the match came into existence, etc.

For Castaway Hearts, I was halfway through the story when I wondered if matches even existed in the late 1700s. A quick search on Bing found my answer.

Friction matches, were first invented by an English chemist in 1826, so no, my character couldn't light pipe tobacco from a match. So what did they do to start a fire? Before friction matches, also known as lucifer matches, men lit their pipes with a paper spill or carried a tinderbox with them for lighting their tobacco. This was a much more time consuming habit, but I knew I had a few places in the story where I needed to remove the match lighting and give a little insight into what would have been the norm in that bygone time.

Story timelines, most especially for those that play out in chronological order are definitely something I need to police myself over a little more. I realized at the end of January while reading through to finish my current WIP, that a secondary character, who was pregnant in a previous book, would have been due in March, but when the WIP started, it was already May, but she was due anytime...I kept thinking, wait...2 months OVERDUE? That's just not possible! And so I had to fix it. And then there's the whole, "did that couple get married in the last book, or are they getting married in this one?"

It's a juggling act, to say the least, but something I enjoy tremendously.

Thanks for the questions ladies! Tune in next week for a question from Joey R.

Feel free to leave me more questions in the comments here at anytime.
I'll be happy to answer them.

Happy Hump Day! I can see the weekend from here!

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