My Writing Process

Last week, one of my CPs, Liz Parker, tagged me to post about my writing process. Here we go!

What Are You Currently Writing?

Right now I’m working on the second draft of FIRE, a YA apocalyptic epic fantasy about an eighteen-year-old girl named Aimee who has to take her mother’s seat on her city-state’s oligarchic ruling Council after Aimee turns her mother in for practicing illegal witchcraft. I first got the idea for it when I was writing a paper about medieval inquisitions, and while it was originally supposed to be a dystopian, I realized pretty quickly that I sort of suck at writing things set in our world so I ended up repurposing it for a high fantasy. I’ll end up retitling it at some point since there’s already a pretty well-known book named FIRE, but for right now I’m not even worrying about it.

I’m also continuing to query SHARDS. Which mostly consists of sending emails and sitting around, so it would be a pretty boring thing to blog about.

What Makes Your Work Different?

I put a really big focus on setting in my stories. Setting is usually the first thing that comes to me when I’ve got a new idea; everything else that comes after is just a product of whatever my setting is.

Also, even though my fantasy worlds are strongly grounded in history, I usually blend a few different periods together. For example, the politics and religion in SHARDS are rooted in medieval history, while the social aspect is based on Victorian England. In FIRE, the city-state idea is based on Ancient Greece; the mage trials are inspired by the Spanish Inquisition; and the technology, fashion, and so on will be based on the Old West (although I need to do a lot more research so I can flesh that aspect out).

Why Do You Write What You Do?

I write fantasy because those have always been the books I’ve gravitated toward. I love being able to explore different worlds with their own sets of rules. And studying history game me a lot of ideas because I can take different things that interest me and go “what if?” with them. I guess I could easily do this by writing historical fiction, but I have too hard of a time sticking to one time period and not including some fantastical elements.

I write YA because of how interesting that age is. There are so many things you’re just starting to figure out, and often you feel so alone. I write YA so teenagers can hopefully see themselves in these characters and feel less alone.

And finally, I write about women because there are so many conflicting messages for young women from all directions. I would hope that if I’m lucky enough to have teenage girls following my characters’ adventures someday, they will realize it’s okay to think for themselves, trust their instincts, and that there are all kinds of ways to be strong.

What Is Your Writing Process?

Like I said, I usually start with the setting. I actually have a Word document for future ideas that is made up of ideas for future settings. Then, I build up my main characters and the conflict around that. My plot then follows, built around questions such as what my character wants and what her main conflict is.

When I write the first draft, I only know the beginning, the end, and maybe a few key plot points in between. I don’t outline until after I’m finished, and my first draft is usually only a glorified outline that I use to get inside my MC’s head and explore her world. I outline on index cards so in the next draft, I can get the plot sorted out. I use revisions to flesh everything else out – subplots, characters, setting, etc. And then once I’m feeling pretty good about those and I’ve got a thumbs up from CPs and beta readers, I go through one more time and focus on the little things like sentence structure and grammar and word choice.

Rewriting is my least favorite part, so I’m progressing really slowly on FIRE because of that. I usually send out a few chapters at a time to CPs because I know they’ll keep bugging me for me. My favorite part is revisions, because now I’ve got the hard part done and now I can flesh things out! I tend to write very short drafts, and then flesh things out a lot in revisions. (SHARDS, for example, went from 49k to 70k. I’m aiming for 50k with this draft of FIRE, but I could see it easily being 80k when I’m done with it.)

Thank you for tagging me, Liz! Next Monday, two more of my CPs will share, C.E. Darrell and Ifeoma Dennis!

7 thoughts on “My Writing Process

  1. Ifeoma Dennis says:

    Nice you changed FIRE from dystopian to fantasy! The politics and plot twists in the FIRE world are awesome. Revisions are my favorites too, but it takes forever to get to that point o.O

  2. Liz Parker says:

    That’s so interesting that you start with setting. And also interesting how you pull together different time periods. I kind of love it even if I don’t think that way! Totally feel you on women and teenagers. 🙂 I love writing YA for very similar reasons.

    Your writing process–as far as first drafts go–sounds a lot like mine. My current WIP is the first that I’m really putting some outlining into ahead of time and it sort of feels like putting my shoes on the wrong feet, but it’s been good for me.

    Thanks for sharing!

  3. C.E. Darrell says:

    Rewriting suuucks. I’m the exact same in drafting, though – I usually have an awesome beginning and end, but the middle’s basically a few scenes with awkward links between them. I guess that’s why I need a top-notch Revision Game, haha 🙂

    I love your work, especially the incorporation of history into fantasy deal. I once tried a fantasy that had a slight Powderkeg Early-1900s Europe feel, but gave up because the world was too bloody big. Maybe I’ll try again some day 😉

    Can’t wait for next Monday, woo!

  4. Laura W. says:

    Beginnings are the hardest for me, personally. It takes my stories a while to rev up. By the time I hit rewriting, I can usually see what needs fixing so I like that part.

    As for settings — hooray, geo-politics and stuff! 🙂 As a reader, there’s nothing I love better than a well-designed setting, be it in fantasy, dystopian, sci-fi, or whatever the genre. I’m reading the Partials trilogy by Dan Wells right now, and it’s like setting porn what with everything he’s thought of for how the apocalypse would affect different regions and I just…yeah, I love that kind of thing. Best wishes on writing. 🙂

    • Stephanie Allen says:

      I’m starting to notice that I have trouble with pacing in my beginnings. In my past couple WIPs, I’ve been so focused on getting immersed in the setting, it bogs things down. Definitely can be tricky to find that balance!

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