Monday, April 28, 2014

Blog Hop: Why (and how) I write

This is my entry in the writer's "blog hop," also known as a blog tour. I was invited in by my friend and fellow writer Rosemary Claire Smith, whose own blog hop post is here. Rosemary writes science fiction and fantasy stories, drawing on her highly diverse background which ranges from the study of archaeology to the practice of law. Her subjects cover dinosaurs, time travel, folklore, mythology, aliens, and genetic engineering.

Here goes!

What am I working on?

My current work-in-progress is a science fiction romance called Worlds Apart. It's something of a duck-billed platypus of a story. It's set in the far future, and has tropes from romance, space opera, and duck-out-of-water stories. Because it's set in the far future, the title is quite literal; the two protagonists are from different planets. His people have a unique language, different manners, different values, and a way of life that seems primitive to her. To him, her world seems crowded, noisy, and full of rude people.

The tension in the story comes from a secret he keeps from her, and a mistake she makes that puts him in an impossible position.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Considering I love to read and write science fiction, I really don't focus that much on technology, in the sense of worrying about how things work. Except at a very basic level, I don't know how my car works, But what I know is, if you own a car and can afford to maintain it, you can go pretty much anywhere you want in this continent.  Likewise, in my stories, it's the effect of the technology that interests me. Even more than that, I focus on the culture and societies that my characters inhabit.  As for the romance in my current story, I created a character who is very much a product of his culture, but once he finds himself in a different setting, he has to learn to adapt without changing the core of who he is.

One of the writers I most enjoy reading is Georgette Heyer, because I always felt transported to another time and place when I read one of her books. In a way, I feel that I'm writing historical fiction/romance that hasn't happened yet.

Why do I write what I do?

Well, the stories come into my head, so it would seem wasteful not to write them down. I guess at a basic level, I write what I like to read. In addition, speculative fiction offers unlimited scope in terms of creating an interesting setting. A spec fic writer isn't limited to what's happened already or what's possible.  If I want to create a world where men and women have separated into different tribes, I can (I have!).  If I want to create a matriarchy, I can! And frankly, I love the thrill of reading a finished story. There's just nothing quite like it--except maybe getting fan email from someone who was as immersed into my story as I was.

How does my writing process work?

See above, where stories come into my head. That's how it starts. I get a scene in my mind of a person in a specific situation. The more vivid the scene is, the more I have to think about that person, and what he or she is doing and why. Once I get the gist of that straight, I think through some ideas of what the story might be about.

I might make a few notes, and I try to keep background files as I write-- lists of characters names with their relationships and physical descriptions, places (sometimes even maps and floor plans), and (very importantly) a time line.  Once I start writing, the story could easily change direction. Sometimes when I read what I have written, I get a whole new idea.

After I have a first draft, I submit it to my writers' group for critique.  They provide invaluable feedback on the characters, the setting, my writing, and the story overall. I always make some changes after I get this level of feedback, but sometimes it's more drastic change than others.

Who's up next?

Passing the baton, the next leap in this hop goes to these folks who will be posting on or about May 5, 2014. I will add a link to their posts once they do, but meanwhile you can check them out.

Ian Thomas Healy is a prolific spec fic writer whose work can range from sentient alien farts, competitive forklift racing, a religion-powered rabbit-themed superhero, cyberpunk mercenaries, cowboy elves, and an unlikely combination of vampires with minor league hockey. (in the same story!). He is also the creator of the Writing Better Action Through Cinematic Techniques workshop, which helps writers to improve their action scenes.

Aimee Condayan is a mainstream writer who is at the "looking for an agent" phase. Her knowledge and skills are wide ranging, from the DC punk rock scene to technical writing. In addition to working on a novel, she writes comedy scripts, essays, open letters, hate lists and whatever else inspires her.  Her entry is here.

A. R. Williams developed a love for reading at a very young age and in the fourth grade, when an assignment for students to write their own works of fiction was given, it occurred to him that he could craft his own SF and Fantasy tales. His work has appeared in Heroic Fantasy Quarterly, Three Crow Press, and Every Day Fiction. A.R. received an honorable mention in the fourth quarter of the Writers of the Future Contest in 2010.

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