What am I working on?
Currently I am in the last stages of initial edits to a book titled Dead in Me, a YA Horror novel. Here’s the premise to pique your interests.
Seventeen-year-old Nora McBane can't get over what happened the night her step-father murdered her school librarian in cold blood. The kids at school taunt her, her family has unraveled and Nora's biological father won't answer her calls. Then she sees a corpse in her mirror and her life goes from weird to insane in a heartbeat.
Worse still, her step-father isn't the only one from her small island village who has murder on the mind. Nora comes to realize the corpse in the mirror is someone she knows all too well and it wants to communicate with her. Now she must face this ghost to learn which villager will be the next to kill. Nora and her friends take on the the killers, hoping they can stop them before a dark force threatens to end them all.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Though this book is a ghost story, these ghosts can do major damage, no bumping around in sheets knocking over lamps for these guys. The main character, Nora, has the ability to see ghosts (I see dead people!) but also learns her version of Bloody Mary is her own corpse communicating with her from the other side. So, Nora knows she may very well die as the terror plays out in her little island town. Also, there’s a demon who spews out death watch beetles. Yeah, that’s pretty different.
Why do I write what I do?
Because I’m messed up in the head. I blame my father (affectionately) for my obsession with the weird and abnormal. I was weaned on Star Trek while I was just a babe. I watched more bizarre 80s SciFi than I did Beverly Hills 90210 or Saved by the Bell. And it fascinated me. I was captivated by The Giver, The Black Cauldron, and A Wrinkle in Time. Normal books about romance or getting babysitting jobs just weren’t as exciting as exploring new worlds. I still feel that way.
How does my writing process work?
I’ve penned six full length novels and my process is still evolving, but here’s how it generally goes down.
Step 1: Seed idea
I usually start with an idea I just can’t shake. Maybe it’s a vivid opening like my novel, The Breeders. Maybe it’s an idea to combine genres like, Eyes Ever to the Sky, where I thought it would be cool to meld a heroe’s origin story with a paranormal romance. Either way, it’s something I just can’t shake. I get very excited and want to jot ideas down right away.
Step 2: Growing the idea
Once I’ve pinpointed an idea, I like to grow my book baby in many ways. I create character bios, do research on setting or details. I read up in that genre if I am not already familiar. I ponder a lot on what I want to see in the book. Letting my mind explore is some of the best parts of writing. I play out scenes in my head where I’m the movie director, the God of the story. This part is also awesome. Also, I may have a God complex.
Step 3: Outline
For my first three wild stabs at writing a novel I didn’t outline and found myself meandering through with no direction whatsoever. A few characters and a setting don’t a book make. It also made the muddy middle of each novel very hard to push through. Now I absolutely outline, but in a messy way. I use a Blake Snyder beat sheet to generate ideas on how the plot will progress. I sometimes fill in scene spreadsheets with characters, setting and motivation next to what will occur in the story. The ending is always loose because, as I write, I learn much more about my characters and plot. I often have to revise. A lot.
Step 4: Down and Dirty
No, this isn't me reminiscing about how I felt the first time I watched Dirty Dancing at my friends house in seventh grade. When I write rough drafts, I write them down and dirty with my head down and my creativity cap on. I’ve stopped letting people see it as it goes because that can poison the well. I write messy and I keep moving forward. I remind myself it is okay to write crap at this stage. I write crap.
Step 5: Revise
I read through each chapter and clean up as I go. Often I include my first CP, Kimberly Shursen, on each chapter as I go. Then I revise from her feedback. Next I send it on to Amy Biddle for her eagle eye. Sometimes I even include another set of eyes. I clean up each subsequent draft until it’s looking pretty darn good and I’m pretty darn sick of it.
Step 6: Professional Content Editing
I’ve used a professional for all of my published books. There’s no way I’d give anything out to the general public that hasn’t been onced-over by someone I completely trust.
Step 7: Copy Edit and Format
This is exactly what it sounds like. The drudgery. The agony. But, then I know I’m always home. YEAH!!!
Following me next week on the #mywritingprocess tour are:
Kimberly Shursen, thriller writer, author of HUSH and Itsy Bitsy Spider and my Critique Partner. Find her at http://www.kimberlyshursen.com
Amy Biddle author of The Athiest’s Prayer and co-contributor to Underground Book Reviews. Find her at http://www.amyrbiddle.com