Writing and Plotting, Then and Now

As I work on my sixth book, Ghost Walk, which is a wholly different type of project than anything I’ve ever worked on before, I’m reflecting on the kind of writer I used to be vs the type of writer I am now. Somewhere along the way, things changed significantly. I didn’t really have a process for my first few books; I was a pantser at heart and in practice, and it worked. There was little to no outlining; I just took anything I had that remotely resembled an idea and ran with it. Now, while I still give myself plenty of freedom, I actually have a process from beginning to end, and I’m starting to think I like it.

These days, here’s how it works. Continue reading

Hello, I’m Still Writing

If you judge my productivity based on how often I update my blog, and by its content, you might think I gave up writing long ago for no real reason. And while that’s not quite true, I have been dealing with a long list of setbacks combined with a general lack of time for writing. That’s one thing that being a full-time student will do to you. I’d love to be productive on the writing front, but I’m currently learning two years of math that I will never use again in my life. But my bitter ramblings on general education would result in a blog post so long that people would rightfully point out that word count could just have gone in a book instead.

But I’ve still been making progress on the creative front all the same. Unfortunately, for anyone interested in the progress of the Dream Sanctum trilogy, that seems to be on an indefinite hiatus. All three books are written to completion, but cover art and editing are another story. I hope to figure those out in the near future, but for now I’ve decided to focus on things that are more under my control. Continue reading

Why Write “Strong Female Characters”?

The question almost implies that such a trait is an unusual abnormality, as opposed to simply human.

The question almost implies that such a trait is an unusual abnormality, as opposed to simply human.

By now a lot of you have probably heard about “strong female characters.” They’re the amazing women across all types of media, seeking out gender roles and smashing them to pieces. They can be found in books and movies and TV shows to the extent that they have a genre all their own. After all, when is the last time you heard of a strong male character, right? They’ve taken fiction by storm, showing that women too can be just as cool as men.

But is that really how it works? As a writer myself I can’t claim to speak for everyone, but I can say what I deeply believe to be true.

The character “category” of strong female character has been growing in popularity, and it has generally been met with positive feedback. But the reason they’re lauded is not because they are so populous — rather, it’s quite the opposite. It’s still a man’s world, and each gender has their assigned roles. The men do this, the women do that, and this often resulted in women being used as support characters or being used as a plot device of sorts. The knight in shining armor is typically a heroic man and the one needing rescuing is a woman. Continue reading

The Secret To Being A Better Writer

For some reason my inspirational poster, "Practice makes slightly less awful," was rejected.

For some reason my inspirational poster, “Practice makes slightly less awful,” was rejected.

There are good writers and bad writers. There are writers who can make people cry by reading scribbles on a page, and writers who put us to sleep, though that was definitely not their intent. While good and bad writing can often be subjective, just like other arts, there are certain aspects and qualities that are more objective.

What I get a lot is, “How do you become a better writer? How did you improve, what did you do?” Getting better at writing always seems so different than getting better at anything else. If you want to become better at drawing, for example, you would think you should keep drawing and practicing. If you want to become a better runner, you keep running. They are all things that have very tangible solutions.

But what about writing? You already know the language, you already know the stories you have in your head. Regardless of how much you write, the individual words are all still the same. “Dog” means the same coming from someone who’s never wrote anything before as it does coming from the most famous author on earth. So what to do? Continue reading

An Open Letter To My Characters

Dear Lovely Characters of Mine,

It’s about time we had another chat. No, you aren’t in trouble, but it’s been a while. I have very little time to write, so I don’t get to spend as much time with you as I usually do. That saddens me as I’m sure it saddens you. Though you should know that I’m working hard to fix that. If I get some time off work, you’ll be the first people I hang out with (much to the chagrin of those in my life who actually exist, to be sure [also, no offense]).

Beth is quite a force to be reckoned with. She's extremely short-tempered, though that may be due to constant exposure to David.

Beth is quite a force to be reckoned with. She’s extremely short-tempered, though that may be due to constant exposure to David.

But there are so many of you. How will I spend time with all of you? Pretty much all of you deserve equal attention! You’re pretty fantastic. (Not to toot my own horn, but I’m quite proud of what the ol’ noggin came up with when it comes to you lot.) What to work on first?

To the cast of the Worlds series, I’ll get back to you eventually. I know, you starred in the first book I ever finished, and then I started other series. I wrote a second book, then a third, then a fourth, and all the while I only managed three chapters to your sequel. But I’ve been thinking about you all lately. And hey, David gets a cameo in every book I ever write, so that’s something. Free publicity! That’s good for you, right? Also, you might be getting new cover art. That’s also cool. Continue reading

Planning? Nope, Just Wing It!

When it came to writing in school, I always did well. I can write essays from start to finish and usually finish first while still getting a top grade… but ask me to plan it out first and I fall apart.

Got my pen, got my notebook, got my laptop. Won’t use any of them.

So often I hear people talking about how they plan their books and other writings. Word maps, drawing pictures, tables, graphs, lists, doodling, scribbles, whatever. What is perhaps almost as fascinating as a book itself is the way a writer creates it. Every novel, I believe, is simply the polished form of sheer chaos, the result of sleepless nights and panicked revisions. The best part about all of this is that it’s completely unique to each person.

Me? I wing it. I don’t plan. My brain says, “Here, have this random idea with a few random characters. Go!” And off I go. And, as usual, I write from start to finish. No writing chapters in random order for me. And you know what? So far it’s worked out pretty well. The only time I ever did any sort of ‘planning’ was when I wrote out descriptions I already knew for characters I already had, and this was because I was extremely bored in one of my college classes. Continue reading