I hope you heard the title in Frank Sinatra’s dulcet tones?
Blog hopping is apparently a thing. I hadn’t heard of it until earlier this week, when the inestimable Andrew Knighton invited me to participate on a blog hop about individual writing processes. Given ShortList.com’s recent release of the daily routines of the famously creative, this seems pretty apropos. The idea is that everyone answers the same four questions, and then invites another three people to do the same.
What am I currently working on?
I’ve got three projects on the go at the moment. The first, and biggest, is Corpus. This is the first book in my Trinity Theory series, although the second one I’ve written. My brain’s helpful like that. Currently I’m editing the third draft with the help of the raptor’s input. Once that’s done (hopefully by the beginning of August), I’ll send it out for beta readers to beat up some more.
The second project is Animus, book three of Trinity Theory, which is still very much in its infancy. As in, less than 5,000 words. It’s nice to take a break from editing occasionally, though, and go back to original creation.
The final project is something very different – a second event for my LARP setting London Under. Yes, this is definitely happening although the date isn’t settled yet. Or the plot. Or much, really. Yeah, I should probably do some more work on this.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Argh. This is an important but difficult question. We hates it, precious, not least because I find it very hard to assess my own work.
I think that my work differs from the majority in a couple of respects, none of which are unique but which are an unusual combination. The first is that it draws very heavily on classical cultures, due to my own love of the subject. The second is that I have a tendency to make sure it doesn’t all come out okay. I’ve tried writing happy endings and, well, the nearest I’ve got is that not EVERYBODY dies. I appreciate that George RR has made this de rigeur, however, so I can’t really wave that flag too highly.
I think (hope) that my character relationships are slightly out of the ordinary. There’s no traditional romance – the love stories are between siblings, or from worshipper to deity, or from lieutenant to captain. We make the word ‘love’ do an awful lot of work in the English language. The Greeks split it up into five different types and I prefer to play with some of the more ignored versions.
Oh, and my protagonist is a goblin in uniform. I don’t think that’s particularly common.
Why do I write what I write?
Honestly? Because I can’t help it. The stories fill my head and I can’t think straight until I’ve written them down. I feel the passions that drive my protagonists, sometimes very intensely. I see or experience moments whilst LARPing that are too cool not to replicate, and which have the bonus of personal experience (in a slightly odd way). I can write with a bit of authority on what it feels like to be in the middle of a line battle, or the experience of being kidnapped, or of being hunted through a forest. Hopefully that personal reality makes it onto the page.
Plus, on the more cerebral side, there are ideas – such as what faith does to people and societies – which I find interesting and enjoy exploring. But these take a definite back seat to the story arc.
How does my writing process work?
Generally it starts with a sentence, or a character, or a feeling. Then I do a rough chapter outline in Excel, knowing full-well that it will change radically, and a couple of character outlines for the main protagonists. Then I start writing the first draft. I used to just write the scenes that excited me but I’ve made myself behave and write chronologically now. That helps ensure that all the scenes excite me.
I also use a wiki fairly extensively, both as a reminder of details and as somewhere to save my research. All my draft documents are saved in Google Docs so they’re available from any computer provided I have internet access, and because Google Docs automatically saves at very regular intervals. I’ve had bad experiences in the past.
Once the first draft is done, I go through and make all the changes that have already occurred to me. Then I give it to the raptor to critique, which he’s extremely good at. Then to beta readers and then, finally, apply to agents. Gulp.
A recent addition to the process is an informal writing group. Three of us meet in a cafe once every fortnight or so, and write for a couple of hours. It’s great for a couple of reasons – first, because we usually set a goal for each session which focuses the mind; second, because we’re there to write and so can’t be distracted by other things; and third, because we can occasionally sanity-check a sentence or idea with another writer.
Nominate three other writers to blog hop
Charlotte Bond – a friend who moves in far more exalted literary company than I do! She primarily writes horror, with the occasional dip into scifi/fantasy. She’s published by both Dark Horizon and Screaming Dreams Press. Go check out her stuff.
Rachel Knightley – I met Rachel on the writing course I did last year and she’s kept me on the creative straight-and-narrow ever since. She’s responsible for starting and maintaining that informal fortnightly writing club, as well as introducing me to other fantasy writers and making me think. She teaches writing, runs a sponsored writing day for Macmillan every year, and directs a theatre company. She’s awesome.
Victoria Grefer – This is a slightly cheeky one, as I don’t actually know Ms. Grefer personally. I have been following her blog on writing tips for some time, however, and would strongly encourage you to do the same. I’m nominating her here because I’m really interested in her process and it’d be awesome if she blog hopped this. 🙂