Another Writer Wednesday…(if you’d like to do one, check out this post for info)
We’re talking to Michelle Lee today…
What’s the one thing that remains unchanged during your writing process, from one book to another? (ie: Intensive plotting? Music?)
A: While I do have a pretty thick digital files of writing music (anything moody, good mood, bad mood, sexy, anything that sets the intensity I want in my fiction) the big thing that never changes is my writing method. I’m a half plotter-half pantser.
I’ve found that I can’t outline a whole book because I don’t know where it’s going to go. But that same uncertainty can kill my ability to write in the time I can steal away from the rest of my life. So I outline 4-6 chapters at a time so I know where I’m going and often leave myself notes when saving for the day about where I’m going next. Sometimes it’s simple “climax scene here” and sometimes it’s funny “Next time on [Novel Title] Bad guys, poisonous bulldogs and please gods can I get some caffeine”.
And when I do my first pass of edits I outline how the book ended up and decide if the novel is organized correctly and what needs more fleshing (I’m an under-writer, not an over-write. My drafts often come in between 60 & 70k and I have to add more to get it up where I want it.)
What’s the one piece of advice you’d give a new writer?
A: I never got a single story done until I sat down, fought against the “I don’t know what’s next”s and just got the first draft out. I got stuck in polishing the same 6 chapters over and over. I got stuck not writing for months because the muse wasn’t hanging out with me anymore. And I got discouraged when someone didn’t immediately like my story idea or when a similar sounding story came out. I got lost in life and just never seemed to have time.
If you want to actually have completed writing you have to sit down, inspiration or not, time or not (I stayed up late, I wrote while in waiting rooms, I wrote in the bath tub, or for fifteen minutes while dinner was cooking), and sometimes even ability or not, and just get the story out there. Later you can make it better, make it smoother, change the plot, but you won’t get anything done if you don’t sit down and get the whole thing out.
What’s the one piece of advice you wish was wiped from the minds of writers everywhere?
A: Any piece that starts with “never” or “always”. There is NO one way to success, whether that success is just writing a novel or building a lasting career. So many people will tell you how to (and for some reason people love to hear authors ramble on about their process) but you HAVE to find out what works for you and to do that you cannot keep comparing yourself to other people, especially the kinds that tell you to “always” do this or “never” do that.
What’s the one book you think everybody, writer or not, should read?
A: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. I remember the first time I read it in high school even the nonreaders seem to be stricken by the idea of censorship on that level. Because it’s not just about book burning, but about altering people and society to make it more palpable. Also, hopefully, it can help us realize that opinions, like information, has the right to be shared, even if we don’t believe it’s true, or don’t like what it means