Come Along With Me As I Write My Novels
(And a lot of other new writing experiences too)
Welcome to a special week of the #WritersQuick5 series - where we learn about writing from fellow writers.
This week I decided it was finally time to post my own answers. It’s a little scary to put myself in the ranks with the rest of the amazing people that have been featured, but it’s good to do scary things!
Over the past year, I have been inspired, I have laughed, but mostly I have been in awe of the incredible talent of all the writers who have shared their journey. And, I have been equally touched that 36 people have taken time out of their day-to-day lives to provide answers and take part in this interview series.
Next week I will be post a special “Where Are They Now?” edition of #WritersQuick5 that catches people up on some of the incredible accomplishments of the writers featured since their answers have posted. I’m super excited for that so stay tuned.
As for me, I will forgo any long intro to my work except to say that I completed my novel, THE CUBE earlier this year and am still trying to break into the agenting world to get it published. I also write a serialized fiction series called AMACHE’S AMERICA on Channillo.com. AMACHE’S AMERICA was recently named the Best New Series and the Best Historical Fiction Series in the 2017 Channillo Awards.
I also wanted to add that I do a fair amount of writing in my day job. IT management and project management require a completely different set of skills and I am writing policies, procedures, scope documents, discovery reports, requirement documents, etc. etc. every day. I’m glad that I can bring my skills as a writer to the field of IT. I just wish I had more time to do things like put together a department newsletter! (never say never).
Okay, so… without further ado… let’s see what I have to say… :)
Question #1 - Where do you write and why do you write there?
If I have the time, I write in my home office. I have multiple screens where I can pull up my notes and write at the same time. I usually like it to be very quiet, no podcasts, no music. I mostly like writing at home because I can let my guard down (and, truth be told, go to the bathroom whenever I want without having to pack up all my stuff).
If I’m on the go I have a couple favorite spots, including the Drawing Room at the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel.
Lately, I’ve been popping into my writings at work when I need to take a break from my day job. Fifteen minutes here or there, maybe a whole lunch break (although that’s rare). That’s why I do a lot of my writing in Google Docs so that I can open them up whenever I have the chance.
Question #2 - What is unique about writing for your particular genre?
I write in several genres, but there is a through line. I like to write about good people. Good people who love other good people and who do good things. It sounds corny, but writing about people that I can believe in and that I would love if I knew them really helps me. This sometimes means my personal challenge is where to find the tension and where to create the challenges for the characters.
For THE CUBE, the unique quality came in the concept itself. It is something I can see so clearly in my head but took many attempts to get across on paper. High-concept sci-fi requires knowing when to do a deep-dive descriptive paragraph and when to let the reader’s imagination take over.
For AMACHE’S AMERICA, I needed to draw the line between the fictional characters that I write about and my own family’s story. Also, the serialized nature of it is definitely different than sitting down to write a novel. Every two weeks I jump to a different character’s viewpoint and jump to a different format (audio recordings, journal entries, exposition) so it makes the writing very fresh and I find that what I produce is often colored by my mood at that time. I think the story overall would be quite different if I was just sitting down and writing it all at once. I like that it flows along with me.
Question #3 - What are some of your grammar or punctuation pet peeves?
Honestly, it depends on the platform. On Twitter or social media I have none. Anything goes. People type quickly and so typos and word mistakes are par for the course. In prose, I think it should be okay to end a sentence with a preposition and I find it awkward when people bend over backwards to try and make a sentence end without one. I will say though, when I get a text message with “your” instead of “you’re” - even though texts are as ephemeral as social media - it does bug me. One final thing - it’s spelled “whoa” not “woah.”
Question #4 - At what point in your writing process do you start to bring other people in to review your work?
For THE CUBE, I brought people in every step of the way, relying a great deal on my editor, Laura Alsum. She reviewed my outlines and gave me feedback on chapters. It was invaluable. For AMACHE’S AMERICA, there just isn’t the time, so as scary as it sounds, I write it and post it and that’s it. I sometimes have waking nightmares that there are glaring errors in the book series, but let’s hope there aren’t! Ideally, I’d like to write a large chunk of the work and then get feedback.
Question #5 - What advice would you give to a new writer about the writing process?
Patience is key. You will need to be patient while the ideas come to you. You will need to be patient when you are writing and when you are revising. You will need to be patient when you are waiting for feedback from anyone. You will need to be patient when you are working on getting things published. You will need to be patient as your readership grows.
Aside from that though, I would say that you should write what you love. If you love dogs - write about dogs. If you love spaceships, write something set in a spaceship. If you love the topic, you will love writing about it. DON’T write for what you think someone else will want to read. If you want to read it, and you love it, that’s all that matters.
Thank you to everyone who has followed along on this #WritersQuick5 journey and for allowing me the self-indulgence of writing up my own answers. It’s been an amazing year and I am so grateful to each writer that has participated and to each of you that has followed along. I hope you all have learned as much about writing as I have!
If you would like to be featured as a writer in the #WritersQuick5 series, please just reach out and let me know. I’d love to promote your work as well!
For updates on #WritersQuick5 and other info from me, please follow me on Twitter or check back with this blog for all the latest.