|Sarah Lyons Fleming|
Thank you to the talented Sarah Lyons Fleming for passing me the Writing Process Blog Hop baton! Sarah's an author friend of mine I discovered when our books were hanging out together on the same "Top 100" lists on Amazon (Post-apocalyptic and Dystopian). Her acclaimed debut novel Until the End of the World stood out from the other zombie and EOTWAWKI books on the lists because, like After The Ending, it was clearly female-friendly in a genre that is traditionally a male-dominated. You should check out her book if you're looking for more post-apocalyptic adventures that include plenty of emphasis on friendship and romance as well. :)
And now for the meat of the blog hop...my writing process:
1) What am I working on?
I'm currently finishing up my final few "Dani" chapters of the third book in The Ending Series, Out Of The Ashes (August 2014). After a brief, several-month hiatus from writing full-length novels to complete the first three The Ending Beginnings novellas (the first of which is free), I'm super happy to say that I'm back in the swing of things. This book has been enormous fun to work on because, being the third book in the series, it's allowed me to explore some relationships and backstories I'd yet to really show on-page. It's been an eye-opening and exciting adventure, and I'm especially happy about the foundation my co-author, Lindsey Pogue, and I have laid for the fourth and final book, Before The Dawn.
2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
All of my writing focuses heavily on relationships, whether those be platonic friendships, familial bonds, or actual romances between characters. This isn't so unique for The Echo Trilogy, which is a paranormal/time travel romance based on Egyptian mythology, but definitely isn't commonplace among the post-apocalyptic peers of The Ending Series. I'm super excited every time I see a book pop up that is as much about people and their relationships during the end of the world, as it is about the day-to-day struggle to survive. LP and I included a C. S. Lewis quote in the beginning of After The Ending that really sums up why we put so much emphasis on relationships in our post-apocalyptic series:
"Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art…It has no survival value, rather it is one of those things which give value to survival."
3) Why do I write what I do?
Hmmm...a ton of people have said this, but I think the quote actually belongs to Toni Morrison:
|“If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.”|
That pretty much sums it up for me - I write what I write because it's what I want to read. I've always been an avid--some, like my mom and my husband, might even say obsessive-- reader, and I've found that writing makes for a much more immersive literary adventure...at least for me...
4) How does my writing process work?
It's not very exciting, I swear. I have absolutely no idea where my story ideas come from. All I know is that they like to pop into my head at the most annoying times (middle of the night...middle of a drive...middle of a shower...middle of another project...). Once I'm ready to run with an idea, I like to lay out some world-building groundwork--setting(s), characters, historical/cultural/linguistic elements, etc.--and this includes one of my favorite forms of research: combing the internet for images that fit my vision...usually on Pinterest. :)
Once I'm ready to get writing, I make a detailed-ish outline in a spreadsheet, with a row for each proposed chapter, and columns with bullet points of what needs to happen in each chapter, how many days into the book each chapter takes place, general dates so I don't mess up on the time of year, and the location(s) visited in each chapter.
Next, I dive in. My brain works chronologically when it comes to storytelling, so I just chug straight through the from beginning to end. The storyline always gets derailed by my characters, which ends up being my favorite part of writing and really makes for a better story in the end. Regardless of what detours the story takes, I always know where it's headed, and I always get there in the end. And that's my rough draft.
Once I've got that bad boy finished, I read through it immediately, connecting dangling threads that I didn't know were dangling threads at the time and adding in little clues and hints about twists that I hadn't anticipated. I call this "draft 1".
I set the manuscript (ms) aside for a few weeks, a month at best. Out of sight, out of mind. Forget about it. Forget the story. Forget the words. Forget why I was so damn attached to that one particular paragraph...that one particular word...that one particular analogy. Forget why I cared at all about certain little darlings, making it that much easier to kill them. :) At this point, I'm working on something else, likely chasing some shiny new story idea.
When I return to the manuscript with fresh eyes, I'm blown away by some parts--these are the "Whoa...I wrote that? Yay! Go me!" self-high-fiving moments--obliterate the cringe-worthy bits, and usually tone down some of the racy scenes. I finish, read-through, and do a general cleaning-up. I call this "draft 2". This is the draft that I hand over to my betas for a few weeks, along with a list of questions for them to answer, some while reading and some after finishing the ms.
While the ms is off visiting friends, I stay away from it completely, not looking at it again until the betas' deadline is up and I have their feedback. I do another big revision based on this feedback, sometimes deleting scenes or even characters completely, sometimes simply cleaning up confusing wording. Mostly this entails adding in descriptive details, clarifying plot points, and trimming out superfluous elements. When I finish with this, I read through the ms again, out loud this time for flow and word choice until the thing is as good as I can make it...and until I can barely stand to look at it anymore without wanting to throw something or scream. I call this "draft 3".
"Draft 3" goes to my editor, who does copy edits (plus). She hands it back to me a few weeks later, I make pretty much every change she suggests because she's just that good, and then I'm done. All that's left is to format, market, publish, promote...
...and then I go back to the beginning and do it all over again. And love it. Most of the time. ;)
That's it! Phew!
I only have one author to tag, and she's probably going to kill me for doing this, but...here goes:
Lindsey Pogue has always been a little creative. As a child she established a bug hospital on her elementary school soccer field, compiled books of collages as a teenager, and as an adult, expresses herself through writing. Her novels are inspired by her observations of the world around her--whether she's traveling, people watching, or hiking. When not plotting her next story line or dreaming up new, brooding characters, Lindsey's wrapped in blankets watching her favorite action flicks or going on road trips with her own leading man.