My writing process – a blog tour

(originally posted on 6/6/14)

I was invited to participate in this blog tour by fellow writer Jae (http://jae-fiction.com/my-writing-process/). The idea is that every author answers the same four questions about her or his writing process and then tags someone else who continues the blog tour.

Here goes!

  1. What am I working on?

At present I’m working on two projects. The first is editing my novel Barring Complications (http://www.ylva-publishing.com/books/barring-complications/) with the incomparable Fletcher DeLancey (tagged below!). We are going comma by comma to make sure you all have a pleasant reading experience uninterrupted by typos.

In between rounds of edits, I’m returning to the first novel I ever wrote, Stowe Away. I still very much believe in this storyline, but the writing needs a complete overhaul. I know a lot more about the fundamentals of writing fiction now, and I’m enjoying retooling scenes, restructuring events, and rethinking character development.

  1. How does my work differ from others in the same genre?

This seems a very loaded question! I suppose my writing is “lesbian romance,” but I do set out to write pieces that don’t conform to the standard romance plot. Barring Complications is about a lot more than the relationship between two women – it’s about US politics and government, surveillance, family, and briefly, badminton.

Stowe Away specifically undoes the structure of a romance novel. This is not a girl-meets-girl, something keeps them apart, girl-gets-girl novel. But more than that, I can’t say just yet. 😉

#3 Why do I write what I do?

I love this question. When I first discovered the Bechdel test (if you don’t know about this, please look it up – it’s amazing), I expanded it in my head. It wasn’t enough for two named female characters to have a scene together where they talk about something other than a man – they had to talk about something other than romance. Clearly this caveat concerns lesbian characters. Alison Bechdel had seen enough of women fawning over men, but I had seen enough of women fawning, period. So, in my version of it, there couldn’t be romantic subtext either: the women in the scene had to think about something other than romance. So, it’s fair to say that many lesbian romance novels wouldn’t pass this more stringent test. And that’s totally fine – it’s not the real test and I’m not judging. But the women I know don’t spend all their time talking or even fantasizing about love and romance. They have careers and hobbies. And I want to read and write about them.

In Barring Complications, Victoria Willoughby’s family isn’t there for her to talk about her love life – they’re in the novel to help her navigate her career and the press, and also because she is a well-rounded character who loves her relationships with her brother and sister-in-law. In Stowe Away, the main character’s mother does more than help her daughter suss out romantic relationships. She has her own story line and character arc.

So, I write the way I write because I am interested in strong, multifaceted lesbian characters who are interested in romance, sure, but whose lives aren’t singularly focused on it.

#4 How does my writing process work?

Call me a traditionalist, but I read my Aristotle and I believe everything starts with plot. I know a lot of writers who start with characters and that works for them, but starting with plot is the only way I can make sense of my ideas. I begin with the conflict. Once I’ve figured out what drives the friction of the story, I come up with a few mile-markers to help me shape its trajectory. Barring Complications is in five parts, and I knew before I started writing how each part would start and end. Once I have the main events in place, I draw up character lists and start writing. Certainly within this basic plot outline my characters lead me to unexpected places. But I know if I don’t give them some rules, they’ll run away from me!

Well, there you go – a bit of insight into my writing process. Without further ado, I hereby tag Fletcher DeLancey and Ingrid Diaz!

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