It’s Wednesday, which means I’m doing a WW post. You can read about the idea behind WW here.
What’s the one thing that remains unchanged during your writing process, from one book to another? (ie: Intensive plotting? Music?)
A: I’m a creature of habit. There are very few things about my writing process – if anything – that I’ve changed over the years. Desperate prayers that I’ll be able to complete my manuscript on time and in good form. Knock down, drag out fights with my Muse to get the witch to help me through a story when she’d rather take a nap. Braless Saturdays. Shoeless Sundays. All of those processes remain the same from book to book. I’m also an intense plotter and there are seven items I must identify before I begin my scene-by-scene, chapter-by-chapter outline. 1. My story’s theme 2. My story’s tagline 3. My hero and heroine’s personality diamond 4. The goals, motivations and conflicts of my hero, heroine and villain. 5. My hero and heroine’s stakes 6. My story’s turning points 7. The 25 things that have to happen in the story. Once those seven lists are complete, then I can go forth and outline.
What’s the one piece of advice you’d give a new writer?
A: This profession is not for the faint hearted or, sadly, for those of us who enjoy sleeping. (Refer to question and answer one.) But if being a published author is your dream, don’t ever, ever, ever give up. No matter how long it takes to have your work published, don’t ever give up your dream. Conversely, if you are able to walk away from your stories – just tuck them in a drawer, a closet or under the bed – and never return to them, then I would suggest storytelling is not your dream. Find something that you’re passionate about and pursue that dream. Just keep it legal.
What’s the one piece of advice you wish was wiped from the minds of writers everywhere?
A: I wish writers would not buy into the idea that there are rules to writing. This is a profession in which the phrase “rules were meant to be broken” definitely applies. I often think of Susan Elizabeth Phillips and her sports series. Other writers and publishers told her sports romances wouldn’t sell. She started with golfers and branched into football players. Now publishers are releasing stories featuring wrestlers, racecar drivers, hockey players, baseball players, other football players and basketball players. Go figure. Put your butt in the chair and break the rules!
What’s the one book you think everybody, writer or not, should read?
A: Sometimes the Magic Works by Terry Brooks. In that book, Mr. Brooks writes about the business and craft of writing. But he also talks about the importance of remaining connected to our inner child. He shares anecdotes about his grandson to illustrate his point. Mr. Brooks urges writers to channel our inner child to exercise our imagination. This advice works for non-writers as well. Whatever your creative talent – drawing, cooking, baking, sewing, music, dance – exercise your talent with joy and abandon – and frequency. There are no rules; just write, draw, bake, cook, sew, dance, play your instrument, write your music. Whatever. Channel your inner child and above all have fun.