Monday, April 22, 2013

How I Write

How do you write?

I get this question fairly often.

I'm always tempted to reply with crappy grammar and woeful comma use, but generally I resist.

I am at my best when I write the original draft  longhand with pen in a notebook. Then I edit as I type sometimes later the same day and sometimes a week or so later. Sometimes I type beyond what I hand wrote and I keep going but in truth that blinking cursor always taunts me and seems to constrict free thought. 

As far as how I build a story and characters I begin with a what if. Usually a what if for a single character. For TWISTED ROADS it was ... What if you realized you'd spent your whole life loving the wrong person?

I knew a guy that had done that very thing and frankly it destroyed him though I don't know that he sees it that way to this day. I wanted my character to find some redemption beyond his misguided love but of course it's never easy to admit you've spent a lifetime lying to yourself.

So I start with that what if, but to make a story and the character come alive I have to know all the characters inside and out. To do that I write back story for every character. One or two pages for minor characters. maybe as much as a dozen for point of view or major characters.

These are not complete stories but vignettes of emotionally charged events from their early childhood on up to when the story starts. Once I know how they will react to being mad, sad, happy, horny ... they are pretty easy to write in most situations.

Building secondary plots and having all them them relate in some small way is a challenge for me. I tend to be a character driven writer and my plots can get lost because of that. Editors often want me to be less subtle and more flamboyant and direct. I have to work to add the necessary layers and emphasis.

Sometimes they mean not how do I write, but how do I find the time to write with a family and job? I steal it here and ther and in bits. This adds to why I hand write. I can't always sneak off to the computer though I try to get some time in at the computer every night when the kids have gone to bed.

There it is. How I write.


Old Kitty said...

It's always brilliant to read that the art of taking a good ol pen to paper is alive and kicking!

I totally flounder with secondary plotting! LOL!!

All the best with Twisted Roads! Take care

Connie said...

This was interesting to read. I used to write long hand first all the time and then later put it on the computer, but I can't seem to do that anymore. I have to do it all at the keyboard now. That does limit where and when I can write, but writing long hand just doesn't work for me anymore.

Phats said...

I have an admiration for people who write I think that would be hard

Unknown said...

I write the same way. Love the feeling of writing it out. At computer I cant seem to turn off the editor in me. I also do a lot of timed writing for specific scenes so the editor doesn't have time to come in. Sometimes I have to do a timed writing multiple times for a single scene.

Great post. So glad you're blogging again. :)

the walking man said...

I think your answer is too long.

How do you write?

With the first word.

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savannah said...

there is something about the physical act of hand to pen to paper that is so satisfying and creatively rewarding. i just get a letter or note to someone, but you, sugar, write BOOKS! xoxoxo

Charles Gramlich said...

I write by hand very rarely. I do a fair amount of "mind" writing before I set at the computer, but I much prefer typing over handwriting.

G. B. Miller said...

I actually do a lot of hand writing, both for my blog and my books. I've always enjoyed writing by hand, most for the last reason that you state. Easiest way to stay busy w/o getting into trouble.

But it has accelerated in the past few years due to the fact that I have a neuro-muscular disease that has settled in my hands that has dropped my dexterity down to what a two year old has.

So I write by hand, then dictate to the computer via Dragon software.

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Vesper said...

I find it's always very interesting to read about other writers' ways... I love writing long hand and it's useful under many circumstances although I don't have the patience to write the whole story long hand. I love notebooks and pencils...

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