Wednesday came and went, and no WIP post from me. You bet, because I don’t have a WIP. Nothing is IP at all over here, except that I’m reading a truckload of short stories– Grants Pass, Punk Fiction, and the proofreader ARC-type deal of Harvest Hill (next month from Graveside Tales, y’all!)– and playing video games. I called my parents last night and found that my dad’s life, now that he’s retired, is much the same. Alas, for me, it won’t last.
Then again, I didn’t teach high school for 30-something years. The man has earned it.
So I thought, how about a writing meme, for some group participation? We all talk about process kind of off the cuff, and like Brenton Tomlinson said this week, it’s different for everyone– and that’s what makes these fun.
1. Are you a “pantser” or a “plotter?”
Definitely a plotter, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be flexible. Sometimes Awesome Ideas strike in the middle of a book, and I’ll happily roll with them– my desk is still littered with the post-its on which I wrote down little moments of inspiration while working on The Resurrectionists, some of which changed things quite a lot.
2. Detailed character sketches or “their character will be revealed to me as a I write”?
Both. I often do detailed character sketches with the help of bio forms– ala an online RPG, since I did those for ages and learned a ton about characterization there– and questionnaires. Or sometimes I just make up my own. But the more I write a character the more weird little things come to me. I add to the sketches as I go and figure out new things. I wonder about this with other people, because character is always the first thing that comes for me.
3. Do you know your characters’ goals, motivations, and conflicts before you start writing or is that something else you discover only after you start writing?
I know– the plot comes from the characters, usually, though I’ll occasionally have a basic idea (“I want to write about American resurrection men. Everyone writes about the English ones!”) that dictates part of it as well.
4. Books on plotting – useful or harmful?
Can you believe I don’t own any? Er, yes, actually, you probably can. I imagine it’s obvious.
5. Are you a procrastinator or does the itch to write keep at you until you sit down and work?
I definitely have to disgorge things immediately, assuming I’m not working on something else, and always have since I was a kid. I wouldn’t sleep in high school for writing. I procrastinate about everything but fiction. (Though I still say some of my best work in grad school came from last minute research papers. It was the ones I worked on for months that sucked, somehow. Still, not the same thing.)
6. Do you write in short bursts of creative energy, or can you sit down and write for hours at a time?
I don’t get short bursts. I sometimes think that’d be more inspired if I did, but I guess the grass is always greener. I’m a slave– I sit down and write/edit for five hours straight without blinking.
7. Are you a morning or afternoon writer?
There aren’t many things I can honestly say I hate in the world, but at the top of that short list is morning. My brain doesn’t start up until 11am at the very, very earliest, I’ve never been able to eat until afternoon, and I am possibly the most unpleasant human being in the world before 9am. I prefer to write in the evenings, very late, but afternoon works for me these days too, because I make it.
8. Do you write with music/the noise of children/in a cafe or other public setting, or do you need complete silence to concentrate?
I don’t mind noise– the TV distracts me (my set-up is in a corner of the living room– it ought to be a dining room, but, er, it’s not), but only because I get interested when Anthony Bourdain is hanging out in Thailand. I don’t mind anything else, and if it gets to me, I just put on the old noise canceling headphones and go to. I do prefer to write with music, though. Which I guess is obvious. Right.
9. Computer or longhand? (or typewriter?)
Because I have issues with dialogue I like to write it out like a script (I even do stage directions… nerd!) first, then read it out loud to myself. A lot of my notebooks are full of this stuff. But when it comes to actually writing, I always do it on the computer. My typing is way faster.
10. Do you know the ending before you type Chapter One?
Aaron Polson talked about this once, and I’m in the camp that says I need to know my ending. It might change, like I said up in #1, but I definitely always know at least where I want the characters to end up in terms of development.
11. Does what’s selling in the market influence how and what you write?
Well, if there’s an anthology calling for submissions it can! But you know, even then I notice that if the idea’s going to come, it does it really fast. Sometimes I can sit on a call for subs and wish and hope, but it just never happens for me. I hope I’m wrong about this, I’ve only been at it for a little over a year now, but we shall see.
12. Editing – love it or hate it?
For my own stuff, I love editing it if it’s based on someone else’s comments. Editing frustrates the f#$k out of me when I’m on my own, because I have no perspective. But I really like getting fresh perspective, because then I feel like, hey, I can save this after all!
And to conclude, I am officially a member of the Aaron Polson Fan Club, begun by Cate Gardner this week. I’ve already started making converts of my friends (this means you, Dana), but I’m nowhere near done. Click his link up there in question 10, or just go check out The World in Rubber, Soft and Malleable directly. You’ll be converted too.