Greetings and salutations! First of all, I want to thank Sara for inviting me to guest blog. Thanks so much, Sara!
So today, Sara asked me to talk a little bit about my writing process. I have to admit that I’m a total “pantser.” That is to say, I don’t sit down and meticulously plot out my books before I write them the way that writers who refer to themselves as “plotters” do. I don’t do storyboards, write down information about my characters, or plan out what happens in each chapter. Usually, I just sit down and write. Sometimes, it turns out well. Sometimes, it doesn’t. But it’s the process that works for me.
Usually what happens is that I’ll get a “what if” idea for a specific scene or situation. For Spider’s Bite, the first book in my new Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series, the idea was something like this – What if an assassin was double-crossed on a hit? What if her handler was murdered as a result? What would she do about it? (The answer, at least in Spider’s Bite, is find out who set her up and why, and then take that person out.)
I’ll think about my “what if” scene for a while, focusing on the main character and how whatever is happening will affect her – and then I’ll go from there. Once I have my character in mind and hear her voice in my head, that’s when I start figuring out the overall plot of the book, as well as the magic system, the world, the other characters, etc.
Now, I don’t really figure my plot out chapter by chapter, scene by scene. What I do is think of the opening of the story, then divide the book into thirds and think of a couple of turning points that drive the action for those parts of the book.
For example, in Spider’s Bite, the first turning point is my assassin character, Gin Blanco, getting double-crossed and her handler being murdered. That drives the action from the first third of the book all the way up to the second turning point, which is Gin going to meet/fight/kill the person responsible for her handler’s murder. That plot point then drives the action through the rest of the book.
When I have those plot points in mind, then it’s time to sit down and write my first draft. I really push myself to get the first draft done as quickly as possible, so I’ll write anywhere from 1,000 to 5,000 words a day for about three weeks, until I have a draft that’s somewhere in the 50,000- to 70,000-word range. Why do I do this? For one, it helps me keep my story thread and characters in mind. Two, I have a day job, so my time to write is fairly limited. Three, I’m just anal in that I like to get one project done and then move on to something else. Writers. Sometimes, I think we’re all half-crazy. ;-)
After the first draft is done, I take a break for about a week or so (sometimes longer) before going back to the story. I read through the draft, seeing if the characters, world, setting, magic, plot, etc. all make sense, work together, and tell a good story – in other words, if it’s a project worth pursuing. If so, then I start working on my second draft, which is where I go back through and flesh out things like descriptions, character quirks, etc. I usually go through the book three or four times, adding in more and more detail and tweaking everything, until I have a finished draft of about 100,000 words that is the absolute best book that I can make it.
All of this usually takes me several months. Sometimes, shorter. Sometimes, longer. It all just depends on what else is going on and what the demands on my time are as to how long it takes me to finish a book.
After that, the book gets sent to my agent, who reads it and gives me her feedback and asks me to do revisions, if necessary. Once those revisions are done, a couple of different things can happen. If this is a new book/series that I’m working on, then my agent can try to sell the book/series. Or, if I’m already under contract for the book, it will then go to my editor, who reads it, gives me her feedback, and asks me to do revisions, if necessary.
It’s a long, long process, but it’s totally worth it. How do I know? Every time I get an e-mail from a reader telling me how much she enjoyed my book. That’s what makes it all worth while to me. ;-)
What about you guys? For all you writers out there, how do you go about crafting your books? And for readers, what are some of your favorite urban fantasy books? Share in the comments.
And now for the giveaway. Jennifer has graciously offered one lucky commenter a signed copy of Spider's Bite. All you have to do is answer one of Jennifer's questions or ask her one of your own!
My name is Gin, and I kill people.
They call me the Spider. I'm the most feared assassin in the South -- when I'm not busy at the Pork Pit cooking up the best barbecue in Ashland. As a Stone elemental, I can hear everything from the whispers of the gravel beneath my feet to the vibrations of the soaring Appalachian Mountains above me. My Ice magic also comes in handy for making the occasional knife. But I don't use my powers on the job unless I absolutely have to. Call it professional pride.
Now that a ruthless Air elemental has double-crossed me and killed my handler, I'm out for revenge. And I'll exterminate anyone who gets in my way -- good or bad. I may look hot, but I'm still one of the bad guys. Which is why I'm in trouble, since irresistibly rugged Detective Donovan Caine has agreed to help me. The last thing this coldhearted killer needs when I'm battling a magic more powerful than my own is a sexy distraction... especially when Donovan wants me dead just as much as the enemy.
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** This giveaway will end at midnight EST on Friday 02/12 and the winner will be announced Saturday 02/13. Winners will be chosen using Random.org.