Writer Wednesdays…Claire Ashgrove

Another Writer Wednesday…(if you’d like to do one, check out this post for info)

Today we have Clair Ashgrove/Tori St. Claire

What’s the one thing that remains unchanged during your writing process, from one book to another? (ie: Intensive plotting? Music?)

A: Plotting by far. Everything else from environment, to physical setting, to background music changes with my mood. But plotting is consistent. I’m a heavy plotter. I stick to my outlines as rigidly as possible. And I plot until I can write down, chapter by chapter, what’s going to happen next, where my cliffhangers are, etc. It’s a start to finish process, or sometimes a finish-to-start process. But it is unchanging.

What’s the one piece of advice you’d give a new writer?

A: Writing is like every other job, sport, or art form out there. You very rarely can overnight yourself into success (no matter what your version of success may include). You have to work at it. You have to take ‘continuing education’. If you truly want to be published, develop a training schedule, train yourself to write like you’re already an in-demand novelist, and don’t deviate unless there are emergencies. Gold medal Olympians train daily, Pro Quarterbacks are always studying the game – follow those successful examples and create your own regime. If you want it badly enough, make that evident in your daily life. Make it part of your daily life.

What’s the one piece of advice you wish was wiped from the minds of writers everywhere?

A: “When you finish a book, you must revise it.” No. You mustn’t. You may choose to go into revisions, or you may be aware there are gaps you need to fill in. But revisions are not mandatory. What is, is an editing pass. A read through where you check for loose ends, fix that sentence that accidentally changed direction in the middle of it because you were interrupted. It is okay to be happy with your completed product and feel like it is as tight as it could be when you reach the last word the first time around. Repeated revisions can (and often do) destroy an author’s voice. Believe in yourself. When you’re done, be done. Even if that means facing down a cocked eyebrow or wide eyes when you inform “so-and-so” you omitted revising the book. If it should happen that the book doesn’t sell, don’t dwell on it. You haven’t done anything wrong. Write the next one and don’t get buried in the “I must revise, revise, revise to be any good” mindset.

What’s the one book you think everybody, writer or not, should read?

A: Oh gosh, this is hard… very hard. There are so many books that have made an impact on me… I would love to say Hamlet, but I know Shakespeare is a difficult chore, and not many would follow through. I’ll have to go with John Jakes’ North and South. It has all the elements of a great story – internal and external conflict, outstanding three dimensional characters, layered plots and twists, romance, action – it’s really a wonderful read. An unforgettable read. So yes, that’s my answer – at least for today! Ask me tomorrow and it might end up being, “As I Lay Dying,” by Faulkner… but that one too… well let’s just say it could require patience to appreciate.

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