Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Write like you meme it

From memegirls: Copy the questions into your blog and answer them. Then tag five other writers to do the same!

1. Do you outline? Not exactly. I usually just start writing, and eventually find myself needing to write a general outline of sorts to get me to the end, but it's usually more like a summary or synopsis of the major story points. And I don't always do even that. Sometimes I don't do it until I finish a draft, when it's time to start on revisions and I need to fix the plot. But I tend to start off writing off the top of my head.

2. Do you write straight through a book, or do you sometimes tackle the scenes out of order? Almost always straight through. Sometimes I jot notes or partial scenes for future parts of the book before I really get to that point, but I prefer to write most of it in order.

3. Do you prefer writing with a pen or using a computer? Computer, but I sometimes write notes for the story in longhand, or switch to writing in longhand to shake up my perspective and get through a block, or write in longhand when I'm not near a computer! I really enjoy writing in longhand, but it's usually just not fast enough.

4. Do you prefer writing in first person or third? I prefer first, but I usually try each story both ways just to make sure I'm picking what works best for the story. First person may come easier because of my theatre background, or maybe just because I'm used to talking and thinking my own thoughts in first person!

5. Do you listen to music while you write? If so, do you create a playlist, listen randomly, or pick a single song that fits the book? It seems unusual these days, but I don't listen to music while I write! If I'm really into the writing, there could be a rock band playing in my living room and I'd hardly notice, but I don't go out of my way to listen to music while writing. I've tried a couple of times and it usually distracts me too much when I'm getting started.

6. How do you come up with the perfect names for your characters? My characters normally show up in my head with names already! When I have to brainstorm about one, it's hard, but I usually just try out lots of possibilities until something seems right. I've always loved reading books and web sites about names and naming, so I have a lot of names in my head as it is.

7. When you're writing, do you ever imagine your book as a television show or movie? Sometimes I do that on purpose when I'm stuck in the story. I try to picture it as a movie or TV show, and imagine what I'd like to see happen next--or how I'd start the story or approach it in general. The medium really changes the way it's presented, and that sometimes kickstarts new ideas for approaching the text. I'm probably inclined to do this because I have a degree in Radio/TV/Film. I never imagine it will get made into a TV show or movie, though...the stuff I write doesn't usually lend itself to that. But that's one reason I like the exercise of imagining it that way, because it forces me to think more of action and visuals instead of getting stuck in the character's head too much (unless I start imagining it as something like Scrubs, where there's a ton of voiceover narration!).

8. Have you ever had a character insist on doing something you really didn't want him/her to do? I expect so. My characters definitely surprise me all the time! One time, I wanted to change the narrator of my story, but the character I was switching to just wouldn't tell it the way I liked it, so I had to take away her microphone and give the story back to the original MC.... Odd how that happens.

9. Do you know how a book is going to end when you start it? Sometimes I don't even know what it's about! (I tend to start with just a character in a situation.) But if I do know what it's about, I usually have at least a vague idea how I want it to end. But then, maybe I shouldn't. Maybe I'd get to the ending more often if I wasn't trying to find my way to an ending that might not fit the story anymore...hmm.

10. Where do you write? On my laptop, on my lap, wherever that happens to be! Generally, on the couch, on a chair, on my bed, or occasionally in the car (either parked or as a passenger, not the driver!), or at Barnes & Noble (in longhand) or at the library. I've worked at a desk or table a few times, but don't have an office. I wish I did! I thinks it helps me to focus if I have a dedicated space for writing. Once I'm going, I can keep going, but it's easier to get started in a good writing environment.

11. What do you do when you get writer's block? Brainstorm. Try writing in longhand. Journal about the story or characters. Try to imagine it playing out on a screen. Sleep on it. Take a walk or drive. Give up for a while and work on something else! Any or all of the above, and probably a lot of other things, too. And of course, just write through it, and throw out all the crap that comes out the first few tries, and keep anything good that comes along when I finally stumble into something that works. (And don't tell me writer's block doesn't exist, because it's one of my pet peeves when people say that. Maybe it shouldn't exist, or doesn't exist for you, but it exists for me. But I won't do the Emma Thompson in Stranger Than Fiction thing and refuse to try writing anything until I'm sure what's going to work...and definitely won't get an assistant sent to me by a publisher to help me break my block! Though in that movie, it did work out best that she didn't write anything until she did....)

12. What size increments do you write in (either in terms of wordcount, or as a percentage of the book as a whole)? Any and all! I don't normally have a wordcount-per-day or page-per-day goal, but I've tended to write between 500 and 2,000 words in a day (when writing novels, not picture books!). But I've probably had 10-word days (not to mention all the 0-word days), and I've had at least one 10,000-word-day during NaNoWriMo, as well as some 7,000-word days. I write manuscripts of all different lengths, though, from poems and very short picture book texts to my longest manuscript, a YA novel of about 60,000 words.

13. How many different drafts did you write for your last project? I don't know how to count revisions. I'm always tweaking, so except for the first time through, I never know when one draft is "finished" and the next draft begins. Suffice it to say, more than one!

14. Have you ever changed a character's name midway through a draft? Yes. In one case, I realized I had three characters with one-syllable names with a long "a" sound, so Paige ended up becoming Gena.

15. Do you let anyone read your book while you're working on it, or do you wait until you've completed a draft before letting someone else see it? I prefer not to share it before it's done, but because I've occasionally needed something to submit for conference critiques or critique groups, I have shared chapters of unfinished manuscripts. (It's also much easier to get someone to read a chapter than a whole book!)

16. What do you do to celebrate when you finish a draft? Rest! And probably jump up and down and shout it to the world. Sadly, this doesn't happen often enough for me to really know what I "normally" do.

17. One project at a time, or multiple projects at once? I've done both. I normally have one "main" project, but if things aren't going well, I sometimes have a bad habit of skipping around, unable to settle on one thing for long, and if things are going well, I often find that writing begets writing, and I have so many ideas I start writing more stuff! The month I did NaNoWriMo and completed a YA novel manuscript, I was so inspired I also wrote 16,000 moe words on two other projects! (But only after meeting my NaNo word count quota.) I guess it helps that when I was a technical writer, I often had to work on 7 or 8 manuals at a time.

18. Do your books grow or shrink in revision? Both. I tend to write long so they have to get tighter, but I've also had to add scenes or even chapters. My longest manuscript got a little longer, but my short stories usually shrink.

19. Do you have any writing or critique partners? I've been in critique groups in the past, but I'm not now. I have asked individual writers to read stuff for me on occasion, though. Actually, two local writer friends recently asked if I wanted to form an informal critique group with them & I said yes but nothing has happened with it yet & I'm not sure if it will. I have also paid for critiques in the past.

20. Do you prefer drafting or revising? Drafting!

I tag anyone who wants to answer.

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