My turn to write for the Writing Process Blog Tour, which is bouncing around the web at the moment. Writing this is akin to therapy. I recommend it!
What am I writing?
My novel is a YA murder mystery. I have written just over 60,000 words of the first draft. It has the working title of Genesis. The climax, where I must pull all the threads of the plot together so the reader finally finds out whodunit, is my current challenge as well as sorting out a few structural errors and wayward antagonists (there are four. Eek! Is my heroine in trouble or what?)
How does my work differ from others in its genre?
Hmm, I’ve not read anything like this for older YA. Mix Gone Girl with Sophie Mackenzie’s, Girl Missing, and throw in genetics, suicide and drugs and a love story and you’re getting there.
Why do I write what I do?
I dream the plots, literally, or elements of them and then I build on the idea. They grow like a tree. Sometimes I park them if I hit a wall. But the ones that keep growing and become a theme, with characters that start talking to themselves (in my head!), I start writing down. My biggest problem is having too many ideas. I don’t have enough time to write everything I want to and I have to be careful not to overload my plots.
Story ideas for children aged 2-8 years, teens and YA, come easily. I enjoy the imagination of young children. You can bend all the rules. Aliens, monsters, tigers, you name it, can all come and play anywhere anyhow. What fun!
I love teenagers and young people’s dialogue. They reinvent language for their own purposes. They challenge everything for better or worse. Maybe that’s it. I write these genres because they break the rules. But I also think stories for children and young adults contain a lot of hope and that’s the emotion I want to leave readers with at the end of my stories.
How does my writing process work?
I’ve worked hard on the structure of this novel. The murder mystery plot demands that the author knows exactly what’s going down in each scene and how it all ties up.
I have a spreadsheet. In the cells across the top I have all the scenes titles (I don’t put them into chapters until later). Running down the page I have headings: characters, setting, current situation, problem, reaction (physical and emotional), action/decision, central scene question, underlying theme build, drama/tension/suspense, imagery (scene detail, symbols, 5 senses)
I fill out this spreadsheet partly before and partly after I have written a scene, because lets be honest, spreadsheets are not very inspiring! A blank piece of paper, lots of sticky notes and coloured pens are my favourite tools for brainstorming a scene or act. The spreadsheet is just a tool for recording what I have done and preventing confusion. After brainstorming I write straight onto the screen and just let it come. If I get stuck I go back to brainstorming or consult my research file, or I take a break and let the problem stew for a bit. My best writing comes after about an hour of writing, and then I hate to be disturbed as I have my head in the scene and it’s really hard to get back in the zone. I get fatigued after two and half hours and need a pit stop (food!). I’ve stopped word counting on a daily basis because it’s not about how many words there are, it’s about how good the scene is. I have taken over the dining room and spread my novel and picture book ideas all over the table in a happy mess.
Family and guests will just have to eat in the kitchen for the foreseeable future.