I was recently tagged for The Writing Process Blog Hop by the amazing Sophie Duncan. I met her earlier this year during the A to Z Challenge and have been a fan of hers ever since. If you've never visited her before, I highly suggest you do!
I'm excited about this hop, because it's a good opportunity to share with all of you how my creative process works. The rules for this hop are fairly simple.
- Introduce who referred the blog tour to you
- Answer the following 4 questions:
Introduce the people you're passing this on to (3 - 4 people if possible who will then post a week later)
- What am I working on?
- How does my work differ from others in its genre?
- Why do I write what I do?
- How does my writing process work?
So here we go!
Obviously I already completed #1 on that list, so now I'll move on to #2.
What am I working on?
Right now, I'm working on two different projects. First of all, I'm in the middle of editing my sci-fi/dystopian novella "A Silent Soliloquy". After I finish this round of edits, I'll find some fresh eyes to read over it so I can get some much needed feedback. Then I'll edit it again while keeping in mind the feedback I collect. I'm nervous about this (of course, I'm always afraid of what people might think of my work), but I'm also kind of excited. We all need fresh eyes from time to time, and critique helps us to grow as writers.
The other project I'm working on is a sci-fi short story. The working title is "In Justice We Trust". It's a new WIP, so I don't want to go into much detail about it right now. All I can say is that, when it's done, I plan to submit it to a magazine. Right now, I'm considering submitting it to either Asimov's or Fantasy & Science Fiction. I know that's an ambitious plan, but I think we all need to be ambitious once in awhile.
How does my work differ from others in its genre?
Now that's a difficult question. I just write what I want to write, and I am well aware of the ways in which my stories are similar to others in their genre. Perhaps it's easy to be aware of this because we desperately want to create a truly original work and fear others stepping in and claiming that we've ripped off a beloved work. No one wants to have that happen, though it seems largely inevitable if your writing becomes well-known.
Perhaps my voice is what distinguishes what I write from the rest of the genre. We each have our own unique voice, and the key is to make that work for what you write. I've heard of people trying to replicate the writing style of famous authors they admire, but I think writers are far better off to polish the voice that comes naturally to them.
Why do I write what I do?
That's a fairly simple question to answer. I write what I feel compelled to write. I grew up reading science fiction thanks to my dad. Our bookshelves were always filled with science fiction books, and I fell in love with the exciting stories and the endless possibilities. My parents were both fans of shows such as Star Trek and Babylon 5. We watched every science fiction movie that came our way. Science fiction is the genre I know. That's how my stories come to me. My brain is now wired to go that way, I suppose, and that's fine with me. I love writing science fiction, and I would never want to change that.
How does my writing process work?
It all starts with the big idea. They can come from anywhere. Sometimes I'll be reading a news article, and the idea will hit me full force in the face (this is how "In Justice We Trust" started out). At other times, I'll just be staring off into the sky, and something comes to me unbidden. I often carry a notebook with me, and I jot down the ideas as they come.
I usually spend a week or so letting an idea roll around in my mind. I continue taking notes, asking myself questions about the story-telling possibilities that come from the idea I've had. Once I get to the point where I feel like I have enough information to write a full story, I write a rough outline. I experiment with the order of events, and I try to get a good idea of where each piece of information will be most effective.
This is about the same point where I start developing my characters. Sometimes the story idea starts with a specific character intruding into my thoughts, demanding to be given something to do, but this isn't always the case. In developing my characters, I think of what kind of person I want to see operating inside of the scenario I've created, and in analyzing how they react to the events I've already outlined, I'm able to create a more detailed outline. I take the relationships between the characters into consideration during this stage, though I always leave room for those relationships to evolve on the page when I'm writing the actual first draft. After all, characters will occasionally behave in ways that run contrary to what we've planned out ahead of time.
Once the more detailed outline has been drawn up, I start writing the first draft. This part gets kind of weird, because I don't tend to write things in order. I write the major scenes first, probably because those are the scenes I get the most excited about. Once the most important scenes are down on paper, I go back and fill in the narrative gaps, tying things together as best I can.
After this is done, I go back and rewrite it. This helps me smooth out any issues caused by my insistence on writing things out of sequence. This is also the stage where I pay particular attention the the beginning and ending of the story. I feel like I generally have a good idea of how I want it to end by this point, but I struggle to decide where to start the story. I usually need to write the beginning a few times in order to get an idea of where things need to begin.
Once this initial rewrite is complete, it's ready for critique. This is the most difficult part for me, because I'm afraid everyone will hate what I've written. Still, feedback is necessary, especially for longer, more complicated works. An unbiased reader can point out the problems with a story that the writer may not see, as well as offer reassurance that you've done certain things right.
This reader feedback helps me go back to make the final polish on the piece (unless, of course, a major structural issue is discovered, in which case an entire rewrite is in order).
That's basically it. I've left out the occasional bouts of "I can't do this, why did I think I could do this?" and "this idea is crap, why would anyone ever want to read this?" because I have them every time, and they occur at different times during the writing process. Sometimes those doubts lead me on to work on something else, and at other times, I recognize that the idea is at least worth the time and effort. Not all stories get finished, and that's okay, but we can't let our self-doubts derail everything we put to paper. That's just unproductive.
Okay, this is the point where I cheat a little bit. I know a lot of my blogging friends have already done this blog hop, and I'm not sure who hasn't done it yet. So, if you haven't done it yet and would like to (or perhaps you liked it so much when you did it before that you'd like to do it again), let me know in the comments. If you decide to do it, you'd be posting sometime next week. Just let me know when, and I'll make a special post directing people to check out what you have to say. If you're going to put in the effort, I'll do what I can to make sure you get some traffic for it!