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Thursday, January 26, 2012

More Author Insight: From Thought to Page

How do you translate your ideas from raw thoughts and images into a story?

"For me, imagery usually evolves through revision. I generally translate my ideas into a comprehensible story by layering in details. I start with an idea, and write a very rough draft, sometimes jotted in a notebook, sometimes typed...but then I go back over it, and over it and over it, sometimes I print scenes out and write on them. Sometimes I word process the entire thing. But it's always a layering process, and often a cutting process as I work to find the right balance between my vision and getting readers to understand/see that vision." - Bethany Griffin, author of Masque of the Read Death.

"With great difficulty. I learned the hard way on my first book that structure is not my natural strength. Between my agent and my editor, I can’t count how often I heard some variation of 'this scene, while hilarious/fascinating/compelling, doesn’t move the story forward.' On my revisions and with my current work-in-progress, I made myself spend more time outlining the story arc." - Barry Wolverton, author of Neversink.

"I sit down, put my hands on the keyboard, and type. I don't know if this is true for other writers, but occasionally I just start thinking in narrative, describing things I see and hear and feel as they happen, as if I were a character in a story. That sounds pretty weird, but I figure it's like muscle memory: if you do something often enough, your body just knows how. Like dance, music, or riding a bike, with enough practice, it's something your body is accustomed to doing." - Jodi Meadows, author of Incarnate.

"I sit down and write. If I don't get things down quickly, I risk losing them to the nasty elves of distraction and/or overthinking. I try to honor my inspiration and write off the top of my head, knowing that the time for editing and honing comes later." - Elizabeth Miles, author of Fury.

"For me, it happens in jarring stages. Writing and rewriting over and over. I say rewriting instead of revision, because often I have to tear out the whole structure to get to the next evolution of the story." - Sarah Wilson Etienne, author of Harbinger.

"I like to create files of images and sketches that inspire the setting and characters, but the real work happens through lots and lots of revision. There’s really no secret other than to stare at walls, and rewrite voraciously." - Veronica Rossi, author of Under the Never Sky.

 "When I’m writing, each scene tends to play out in my head like a movie, and my job is to try and write it all down before the words and images fade. On rare occasions I succeed, and the words do miraculously convey what I’d hoped they would. But more often I need to “watch” the movie over and over until what’s in my imagination and what’s on my computer screen are in harmony." - Marissa Meyer, author of Cinder.

"I suppose I just start writing. Early on, it’s so easy to get bogged down by all the possibility of where a story might be going, and a blank page can be an intimidating thing. So I always try to begin by pulling back and asking myself a simple question: What if this happened? What if that happened? (What if you really COULD die from a broken heart?)

For me, the raw thoughts worth developing and exploring are usually the ones that give me that spark of excitement whenever I think about them. I might imagine a voice, or a place. I might even have an idea of a beginning or an end, but absolutely no clue how all the pieces fit together. Personally, I try not to worry too much about how to connect the dots early on, since it can be too overwhelming. Instead, I take a lot of notes. I take a lot of walks. Sometimes I even talk to myself to work through all the questions. (You know that crazy person you just saw on the sidewalk muttering away under their breath? Yup, probably a writer.) Overall, I try to give my characters room to play and explore and just talk to me. Once I feel connected to a voice, the story usually starts to write itself." - Jess Rothenberg, author of The Catastrophic History of You and Me.

"I start fleshing out story ideas by writing them on sticky notes and putting them on the way of my office. I rearrange them until I see a sense of order and go from there." - David Macinnis Gill, author of Invisible Sun.

"I just sit down and start writing, hoping for that moment when the story takes over and starts spilling out of my head." - Beth Fantaskey, author of Jessica Rules the Dark Side.

"I 'see' a story. The premise usually comes from a simple prompt: a photograph, a poem, a song, but the story plays out visually in my mind." - Mary Lindsey, author of Shattered Souls.

"TONS of outlining! I pretty much just outline the heck out of a book, making my outline more and more detailed until I get to the point that I just can’t stand it anymore and I’ve absolutely got to start writing." - Aimee Agresti, author of Illuminate.

"I just start writing. It’s a jumbled mess at first. Gradually a story emerges." - Jennifer Echols, author of The One That I Want.


"Insert cable in head, press 'download' -- hehe, I wish it was that easy.  I just start writing and writing.  When I stop, then I edit it into something fit for human consumption." - Suzanne Lazear, author of Innocent Darkness.

On Tuesday, find out where the authors like to people watch!

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