Okay, so we know. It's been a while! *hang heads in shame* Things have been crazy the past six months and we've been showcasing so many fabuloso authors that we may have been neglecting all your lovely questions. But rest assured, we still think they are all awesome and plan to get to them. Remember, if we choose yours, you win a book! Today's Q comes from Mary Beth-and she's won a copy of Call Me Irresistible by Susan Elizabeth Phillips.
But don't despair! We are also going to give away a copy of The Arrivals by the fantastic Meg Mitchell Moore! (Who, btw, is chatting it up LIVE over at SheKnows a week from tonight. Click here for deets.) Just leave a comment on this post and you'll be entered to win! We'll choose the winners on Sunday November 11th after 3pm PST.
Here's Mary Beth's Q:
I don't know where to begin & would love the insight of fiction writers on their process. For example, do they outline/map out all of their characters ahead of time as well as the storyline? Or, do they have a basic idea of the direction they'd like to go, and just start writing...then see what organically surfaces?
Thank you so much, Mary Beth
Funny you should ask. We just returned from a three-day writing retreat in Chicago and had to deal with this very issue!
So we've been talking about starting the third book for at least six months. But between life and babies and launching The D Word, we've been well, a bit overwhelmed. First we were going to start it while we were in Hawaii, but we were thwarted by Vodka POGS. Then we decided to dive in while we were in Vegas, but we discovered it's hard to concentrate when the craps table is calling your name. So finally, after one of us might have threatened the other that it's now or never, we decided the only way we could ever get this damn thing started was to lock ourselves in a hotel room for 72 hours. And alas, our writing retreat was born.
We like to keep things very organic-we're careful not to pre-plan too much as we never know where the story will take us once we start typing. Our process is to come up with the basic plot (beginning, middle and end- although the end is always subject to change), then have a discussion about location, characters, character's names (that's a big one!), etc.. Then we begin. We know our style is unique and that there are many authors who outline the shit out of their book before they type a single word. At the end of the day, it's all about personal preference. (We think it's more fun to surprise ourselves!)
Now you now what we do. But we'd thought we'd also give you a few tips from our writing retreat on what NOT to do again:
1. Don't try to write your first chapter in row 32. Liz doesn't know why she thought it would be a good idea to try to bust out her first chapter while on the flight to Chitown. But between all the drunk Notre Dame and USC fans and the hot guy in 32B, let's just say she didn't get shit accomplished.
2. Outlining while hungover is awesome! (Not!) When Liz ran into an old friend the night before the retreat, she thought it would be a good idea to catch up over drinks. (cue FOUR rasberry Stolis and club sodas) She was feeling a bit "rusty" and thought it might loosen her up and get her creative juices flowing. But the only juices flowing were the room service cheeseburger she threw up at 1am.
2. Friends don't let friends eat Slim Jims Lisa knew something was up when Liz texted her and begged for her to stop at 7-11 for Advil, Cheeze-its and a Slim Jims on her way to the hotel. But, wanting to get the retreat off on the right foot, she bit her tongue, gagged a bit, but arrived promptly with the requested items.
3. Room Service sounds better in theory After sampling pretty much EVERY SINGLE THING on the menu by day two, Lisa begged Liz to let them take a break and eat downstairs. But Liz, who had declared herself the Word Count Nazi, said no one was allowed outside until we hit the 20,000 word mark. *cracks whip* And after we made our goal and headed downstairs in the lobby bar? Lisa wouldn't even let us drink the shots sent over by some mystery man. (Note to mystery man: White Russians? Really?!)
4. Housekeeping is your friend We don't know why we never let them come in. It just seemed too complicated.
5. Now what? So it's easy to write when you're locked in a room together with nothing else to do. Now comes the hard part-trying to find time to write with Legos and smashed carrots flying past our heads. And to do it without killing each other in the process! Luckily, we seem to have it down. Liz has stopped sending her early morning, pre-caffeine knee-jerk reaction emails and Lisa hasn't had a meltdown in months. And guess what? We really like what we have so far. We got this!
What we're trying to say is just do what feels right for you. As long as it's working and the story is flowing, you'll have no problem finishing your masterpiece on schedule. And remember, the most important thing is to enjoy the writing process!
Have a question? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org!