Other writers, and aspiring ones, ask me about my writing process. So I thought I might address that topic here. For me, writing is a very personal experience no matter the subject or genre. Yes, I know that the product of writing is aimed toward as wide an audience as possible, but I feel as though writing can come across as stilted; it can lose its honesty, its warmth and its life as soon as a writer starts to calculate and plan the moves of the characters based on anything other than what is personal.
Where Should I Begin…?
Writing a whole book can be a struggle, and many don’t know where to begin. If you’re thinking of writing a book (which takes a very long time and requires many revisions if you write like me!) plan to write about things you love, otherwise (in writing fiction, for example) you risk tiring of characters and plot, then the whole project gets abandoned in a dusty drawer. I’ve always loved fantasy fiction. But I’ve also been drawn to stories with dark, brooding characters. Briar’s story was a great pick for me because it had everything that I loved. I could keep coming back to the characters and the plot and I’d still want to know what might happen next. Writing a whole book is somewhat of an adventure!
I started with a whole concept and then began to flesh that out by considering the fine detail including characters, the setting, and the relational dynamics between people and situations in which they find themselves. Readers have told me that they can’t write anything, or if they try it just bombs. But I think if you just observe life and watch people react, pay attention to the resuts of people’s choices, you’ll know what to write about. I’m really interested in what happens as the result of my own life-choices, as well as the choices of the characters of my stories. This interest in those dynamics leads me in my writing.
Is Developing a Plot Hard?
Having a good sense of how to develop plot cannot be underestimated, if you plan to write a novel. There are many good guides out there on plot development. Timing is everything, so knowing when things are supposed to happen is important. When a writer does not attend to plot, then a story–even a good one–can lose momentum.
Choosing to write about characters that interest you is also key. If you think that you can write a novel (or even a short story) by crafting characters that you’re sure readers will love is a mistake. A better choice is to select characters that interest you or who have personal meaning to you. That’s when they really do come to life and begin to let you know what they’d do in the face of plot circumstances. For example, I knew I wanted to write about a goth-girl who had a sharp tongue and an unflinching deadpan demeanor. I knew a few girls in my life who were much like Briar, and I thought they were interesting, sad, troubled and funny all at the same time. Briar was my exploration of that “type” of girl. As the series unfolds, more of her quirks and traits start to unfold.
I worked for years in the foster care system as a social worker and I had encountered foster parents whose motivations were loving kindness. But then there were others who seemed to have other motives. I wanted to spotlight this dynamic, even though it is done in an over-the-top manner. I felt that the lot of children placed in homes of strangers, out of the reach of parents or relatives, was a haunting and important subject to explore.
How long does it take to write a novel?
The actual time it takes to write can vary from writer to writer. I worked on the Briar Blackwood series after my daily job. Not having the luxury of unlimited writing hours definitely slowed my progress. The Briar Blackwood books took more than eight years to develop and write. And they’re still under construction!