Blog Hop: My Writing Process

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The indefatigable Ellen Gregory — who is currently writing a fantasy novel with a unique magic system; she's been telling me snippets of the world and the plot over our many cafe writing dates and I really cannot wait to read the finished product — has tagged me for a blog hop about writing process. I have to say the short version of my process can probably best be described as "what process?!", but here goes anyway.

1. What am I working on?

A collection of short stories — none of which will "officially" qualify as a short story, since the shortest is about 11,000 words. So a collection of novelettes, then. I have two of the stories written-written, one in alpha draft, and one in not-quite-but-very-nearly-alpha draft. When I'm finally finished all four of them, they'll be edited to within an inch of my life, and published as part of the Twelve Planets series.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Oh. Um. I'm not sure I'm best qualified to answer this, as I'm never distant enough from my own work to truly know. Also, these stories are each different to anything I've ever written before. In subject matter they're all a little grim and in surface trappings they're all a little whimsical, and when all that comes together it's (at least in these stories) various shades of the pensive and the passionate.

3. Why do I write what I do?

Honestly, I could answer this question and all its many cousins a thousand different ways every time I'm asked it. And each answer would be true and false (or at least incomplete) at the same time.

I write because it stops (or addresses) my thoughts. I write because it's my way of processing the world and all its various stimuli. I write for the fun of it, for the discipline of it, for the escape and the creation and the privacy of it. I write because I have something to say, and I write because I want to say it quietly, to those willing and working to listen.

As for my genre … I write speculative fiction because I can't resist it. I love the layering it gives the real world, the sense of something more lurking beneath the mundanities. And I love the way it makes (or has the potential to make) the human condition universal, that even when everything else changes, nothing changes.

4. How does my writing process work?

You know, I didn't know the details of my writing process before Squawk happened. Now … well. Let's just say that this post was supposed to go up last Monday, so blowing through deadlines appears to be a part of my post-Squawk process.

I used to be a pantser, trusting my rambling zero draft to somehow coalesce, with its dead ends and false starts, into an inefficient outline from which I could draw out a story. These days I try and plot a little more upfront. I can't say it's working out, I'm still spending an awful lot of my zero draft floundering and flailing, but I'm still experimenting with what works best. I find it changes with every story I attempt.

I'm a character-driven writer, so I can't start without a character, and these days that includes their world. I can write not knowing everything else, however — although the less I know, the messier it makes the initial draft and the more time-consuming the revisions. And the more cafe/email chats my long-suffering friends have to sit through while I admit I've pinned down a ludicrous number of words without actually asking myself key worldbuilding questions yet…

5. Pass it on

As part of the blog hop, I'm supposed to tag three more writers to answer these questions, but where's the fun in restricting it to just three? So if these questions take your fancy, consider yourself tagged, and link back here so we know where to find you!