It’s the writing process blog tour! Nothing like a good swift kick in the pants to get you blogging again, right? You can thank my friend and bacon sister Gretchen McNeil for tagging me and giving me that kick in ye olde pants. Gretchen’s awesome yet scary books include Possess, Ten, 3:59, and the upcoming titles Get Even and Get Dirty, which she describes as John Hughes with a body count. I think this is the most awesome thing ever. If you don’t already follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and her blog, you’re missing out. Particularly since she's doing a Get Even giveaway right now.
The whole idea of this tour is to get authors talking about their process. I find stuff like this fascinating; I like to read about how other people get words on the page. Half the time I end up stealing their processes, and the other half, I go all googly eyed and say things like, “Wait. You do WHAT?!?!” But it just goes to show that the right process is the one that works for you, and who cares what other people think? Having said that, feel free to steal any bits of mine if they appeal to you. :)
What am I working on?
I don’t like to work on a bunch of different books at one time, but of course I keep doing that. I just finished a round of edits on a book for my agent which is a really different direction for me—it’s not funny at all. It’s a book about cyborgs inspired by the Boston Marathon bombings, and it was really emotional for me to write. I’m also starting to work on a new book whose sale we haven’t yet announced, but I can promise lots of action and punching and one-liners. And if that’s not enough, I’m also starting to work on my world for the Storium Kickstarter. You could play in my world of teenage pulp adventurers traveling the world with a circus. That would be awesome.
How does my work differ from others in its genre?
I think part of what makes me different is that I’ve been very lucky to work in multiple genres! My first few books were comic horror, and now I’m moving into more serious YA. Plus, I have a lot of work in the game space, and I think that really influences all of my writing. In character driven games, you really have to think hard about what the characters are likely to do and build your plot around that. It’s really forced me to take a good hard look at my own plots and move away from writing scenes just because they’re fun. I admit, I’ve done a lot of that. Don’t get me wrong; fun is good! Fun is awesome! But if they can be fun and make sense, that’s an added bonus.
Why do I write what I do?
Well, people pay me for it.
KIDDING. I have tons of book ideas, and I’m really not exaggerating. At least once a week, I come up with an idea that seems like it should go into a book. The ones that make it are the ones that I can’t stop thinking about. Okay, let’s be honest. I obsess about them.
How does your writing process work?
I used to be a firm pantser, as in I wrote every book by the seat of my pants. This may help to explain why Bad Taste in Boys was revised about ten times (ish?) before it sold, and then my first edit letter from my new editor asked me to scrap everything after chapter eight. Pantsing is fun, but for me it doesn’t do a great job of creating a plot that holds together logically and moves at a good pace. Mostly, it’s an excuse to write a bunch of one-liners strung together by things that might be scenes. Maybe.
From there, I moved onto pantsing the first draft and then using a spreadsheet to look at the book’s structure. I liked that approach, partly because I have this weird love of spreadsheets and partly because it gave me an easy way to see the whole book at one time. But still, I found myself editing a LOT.
So now, I’ve moved onto pantsing the first chapter or two just to get a feel for the characters and voice and really get into the book. Then I write what I call an outline, but really it’s a paragraph for each chapter of the book. It walks me through what happens in each chapter and how that makes logical sense. It also gives me the opportunity to see big chunks of the book at one time and get an idea of whether or not there’s enough action or too much action or if a character disappears for too long or whatever. Then when I write the actual pages, I’ve already taken care of a lot of the plot problems, and my edits are usually much smaller in scale. I used this approach for Sally Slick and the Steel Syndicate, my upcoming title Demon Derby, and for the cyborg book I just turned in, and I still love it. So I guess that makes me a plotter/pantser? A plantser? A pansotter?
Completely nuts? THAT. Probably that.