A Window into the Mind: My Writing Process

Your writing process is like your fingerprint—unique. While it may have similar features to others’, it will inevitably differ in nuanced, subtle and deeply personal ways.

That’s one of the reasons I enjoy reading about other people’s creative practices so much: it’s like a small window into their mind, revealing aspects of a shared activity—writing—that I never considered before.

When MJ Bush tagged me in the Writing Process Blog Hop, I was thrilled. I love her blog, Writingeekery, with its deep, detailed approach to writing advice, and getting a glimpse into how she’s applied what she writes about is the perfect complement to that (and, of course, incredibly interesting. Seriously, you should check it out).

As part of the Blog Hop, I have four questions to answer about my writing process, so without further ado, here’s my personal approach to writing fiction.

What Are You Working On?

I used to be a chronic novel-hopper, jumping from story to story every few days, but for the past two years, I’ve been working almost exclusively on my current work-in-progress, Her Clockwork Heart. One night back during Camp NaNoWriMo 2012, I sat down for a freewrite session and a story about clockwork, past lives and an ancient vendetta came pouring out. I’ve been fiercely in love with it ever since.

Pippa Adeney is a maker of intricate clockwork creations, but when she’s asked to build an automaton like none she’s made before, she is propelled into a world of magic and machinery that is both frighteningly alien and eerily familiar. The novel follows her journey to unearth her past and prevent a seemingly inescapable future, set against the backdrop of a steampunk Indian Empire.

How Does Your Work Differ From Others In The Genre?

I’ve applied a lot of the psychological theories and approaches I blog about to Her Clockwork Heart, which I hope differentiates it from other novels like it in terms of character depth and realism.

I love reading and writing about characters who are fully rounded and who act appropriately for their situation, rather than appropriately for the plot. That resulted in a lot of unexpected twists and turns while writing the first draft, but I think the story turned out better, and more unique, for it.

Another aspect of Her Clockwork Heart I think sets it apart from other novels in the genre is the non-linear timeline. It needs some straightening out in later edits, but my TARDIS teapot and I love the timey wimey-ness of it.

Why Do You Write What You Write?

You know, that question makes it seem like a choice ;) Actually, I almost feel like writing fantasy and steampunk wasn’t something I chose but something that chose me. I love the creativity and freedom that comes with these genres. I’m not bound by what’s "possible" and what’s not. I can let my imagination run amok and write about all the things I wish were real but aren’t.

Plus, magic is awesome.

How Does Your Writing Process Work?

Most of my stories start life as a magic system or something mystical that’s captured my imagination. In Her Clockwork Heart, it was reincarnation. In another of my WIPs, The Candle Keeper, it was the thought of candles being animated and consumed by their flames.

After that, characters introduce themselves to me or a plot starts to take shape in my mind, and I begin by writing out the first scenes that come to mind. Once those scenes are out of my system, I usually let the story mature in my head, before returning to it a few months later and planning in earnest.

K. M. Weiland’s Structuring Your Novel: Essential Keys for Writing an Outstanding Story* is my go-to book for plotting, and I love Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi’s Thesaurus Collections for building characters, settings, moods and more!

So that’s my writing process. Now it’s time to hear from you! I tag the super-talented Taylor Eaton, Cristina Guarino, Sheery Hall and Jill Marcotte. Can’t wait to read about your writing processes!

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