Monday, 19 May 2014

My Writing Process {TAG}

Bonjour, lovely people! I'm here today to do the "My Writing Process" tag, which I was invited to do by Robin Moran. (Clicky click to hear her thoughts on writing horror and what REAL vampires should be.)

What am I working on? 

Right now I'm drafting a story under the oh-so-exciting title of…SURFING GIRLS. This is not, of course, its real title, because I suck at them. It also doesn't really hugely reflect the content of the story, but let's be real, it's only called that because I needed a name so I could save the file.

Anyway. It's YA contemporary, as per usual, and tells the story of four friends (Britt, Nicole, Annabelle, and Tristan) on a mission to complete a task started by their now dead friend Cass. It involves surfing (derr), charity galas, girls in love with girls, girls in lust with boys, and a diary.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I guess I'd have to say voice, and also my writing style. I write in third person, which really isn't that common in the world of YA, and especially not within contemp. I also always have multiple POVs--the MS I'm querying right now has two, while the one I'm drafting has four…and then a little more. Plus, just to embarrass myself and make it clear exactly how much ego I have, I like to think that my writing is pretty. (Style over substance, perhaps…)

Why do I write what I do?

Contemporary is my absolute favourite genre to read, and I've never written anything else. I love dealing in realism and grounding my characters in situations that most of us have experienced at some point. When I think of someone reading my book, I often think of a girl who is having a hard time with something, or feels bad that day, or needs something to help her escape, and I want her to be able to find that in my stories. Obviously any kind of book can provide an escape to someone, regardless of what genre or category it is, but I think that because those were the books that spoke to me when I was a teenager, they became what I want to use to reach people.

How does your writing process work?

It usually starts with me thinking of characters. Sometimes I hear a name that I love and decide that I want to use that for a character, or maybe I'll see a picture and think I want to write about someone that looks like that. Then I have to come up with the rest of their story and create some kind of conflict (which I suck at). I'll have a couple of scenes in my head that I want to take place, and how I want to start, so then I do.

I draft in Scrivener, which I love because it's so easy to skip back through scenes, or to keep records of important dates/minor characters/research notes. Once I have a first draft I do a first, pretty extensive edit on a hard copy, input the changes and switch to reading it on my iPad. Then it's edit-input-read, edit-input-read, until I have a good-ish draft.

I can work in silence or with music, but the music always comes from my selection of Super Special Writing Playlists. (Or most anything by Sufjan Stevens.) I aim to write 500 words a day, at least four days a week, which hasn't been happening lately since I've been jumping between drafting and revising so much. I'm a slow drafter but a pretty fast reviser, so it all balances out in the end.

I don't have a special place to write in--when I'm at home, it's usually sitting at the breakfast bar in the kitchen, curled up on the sofa if I'm feeling in a gotta-be-comfy mood, or out in the garden if it's sunny. In the dead of winter you can also find me writing in bed, because what's the point of being a writer if you don't take advantage of that particular perk?

I do have my favourite table at my nearest coffee shop and a picnic bench in the park that I like during the summer, but I'm pretty flexible. I often find myself scribbling notes on slips of paper when I'm at work, so really, I mean it when I say I can write anywhere.

Mostly, my writing process is a case of closing my eyes and throwing myself into the great unknown, because when it comes down to it, it's impossible to know exactly what I'm doing (seriously, when it comes to drafting, sometimes it's like going on a magical adventure that's really not so magical). And sometimes the whole thing is so painful and stressful that I just want to get out of the other side alive.

The joys of being a writer, right? Ha!

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I have lost track of who has and hasn't done this tag, so I'm going to be lame and not tag anybody slash tag anybody who wants to do it!

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

What's Up Wednesday, Brace Face Edition

{click here for a full list of participants!}

Oh lordy, it's been so long since I managed to get my act together and put up a WUW post! But I'm here now and ready to catch up with everybody, so let's get it going.

What I'm Reading:

Right now: ROSE UNDER FIRE by Elizabeth Wein, which I'm probably going to put aside for one of the many more anticipated books in my towering TBR. I enjoyed CODE NAME VERITY but I did find it hard to get into (and long), even though it was worth it in the end. It's hard to keep going with a book you're not head-over-heels for when there's so much else to choose from.

Recently: I beta-read a GREAT manuscript and all I will say is you should probably check out ILLUSIVE by Emily Lloyd-Jones, coming out in July. Especially if you like heists and crazy cool powers and such things.

I also read CRAZY by Amy Reed which I adored and wept over. I happen to love epistolary novels (like FINDING CASSIE CRAZY by Jaclyn Moriarty, one of my all-time faves) and stories about girls with weird brains, so my love for it was no surprise, really. I totally recommend it if you're into that sort of thing.

What I'm Writing:

That MS I'm Drafting: still going, slow-and-steady. There was a little while where I was stressing about how to get the story where it needed to be, but a pretty intense plotting session fixed that. Sort of. I'm still not sure exactly where I want to take one particular plot point but I can figure that out later.

That MS I'm Revising: dunzo, yo. For now, anyway, and sent off to a few people to read, including Sara who possesses magical critiquing powers, I swear.

That MS I'm Querying: just trying to stave off the insanity. Tips appreciated.

What Inspires Me Lately:

I've been reading so many great books lately that I'm really feeling inspired to push myself in my writing. For example, I adore magical realism and I've always wanted to write it, but I've been afraid that I'm not good enough to pull it off or that I won't know how to actually do it. And the truth is, I don't really know how to write it or how to pull it off, but if I don't try, I'll never know--and it's not like trying something equals some magical permanent commitment. Plus, I never want to rest on what I already know I can do; I always want to be working and improving, and becoming a better writer. That's what I'm feeling inspired about lately.

What Else I've Been Up To:

--Getting braces: (this is turning out to be a loooong process…I mean, I was/am fully prepared for the amount of time I'm going to have these things, but I was NOT prepared for the likely three month gap between getting my bottom braces and my top ones. NHS, I love you, but you drive me crazy.)

[pre-bands and wires]

--Eating a lot of ice cream: (see above)

--Hanging out with my brother's puppies, Lulu and Shuttlesworth:

 Aren't they cuties?

--Over Easter some of my friends came home from uni/London life and we had a nice night at our favourite pub. Which then turned into going out-out and me, the sober one, trying to make (drunk) people dance, as always. (Isn't it supposed to be the other way around?) It also involved taking my friend's South African boyfriend on a tour of Swindon by which I mean I drove around the Magic Roundabout a couple of times because that is, quite literally, our main attraction. (Google it, if you dare.)

That's about it! Off to sit out in the sun (fingers crossed it stays for the whole afternoon) and catch up with everybody else's happenings.