Friday, May 15, 2009

How I Do It




First, I write a story. Where do ideas come from? For me, they originate from characters and obstacles. The more obstacles the better. In Heavenly, I wanted to show how hard living with a child who has disabilities is on siblings. How they cope, grow and ultimately change from the challenge. In Nailed I wanted to show a strong female working in an unusual and mostly male dominated work place. How does she deal with it? How do her co-workers learn to accept her?
It's all about real characters with lots of obstacles.

Writing a story can take anywhere from three months to six. Usually, an idea spends some time ripening in my head before I actually tap it out on the keyboard. Every author writes differently. I'm an organic writer, which means I don't outline. I have maybe a dozen key plot points in my head that I know must take place in a story. With A Season of Eden, I started with this idea: a teenage girl develops a crush on her high school music teacher. The guy's a music geek, a late bloomer. And he's barely out of high school himself.


As I write, the characters ( formed fully in my head ) develop and grow as the story progresses and I let them carry the plot. For the most part. I have certain boundaries I will never cross in my writing. One of them is sex. And, though many student/teacher relationships cause controversy because they end up in sexual relations, I purposefully wanted a story between a student and teacher where that didn't happen. That's one of the reasons EDEN is unique.


Same thing in Heavenly. Zoe parties and we know she's been with guys, but we don't see it. Her choices have taken their toll on her -- that's what we see: the result of choices. There's impact in that.

I like 'open endings'. In Nailed, I wanted the final scene to show Mandy's heart torn between to guys she can't decide on. My crit partners said, "In romance, you have to have a HEA" ( happily ever after ) Since Nailed is definitely a light romance, I opted for a more solid ending. But EDEN's tone was much more unsettling, so I allowed the reader to come up with their own conclusion: do they get together again?

After I write a story, I put it aside for a few days/weeks, then pick it up again and read it and edit it with a fresh set of eyes. Setting the story aside allows me to forget a lot and see even more when I comb through it for inconsistencies, slow scenes, lagging dialog, whatever -- all of which is subjective. But it's my story, so I have the final say.

Then, the story is off to the editor.

More on that next.

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