This week’s question: Do you incorporate politics and/or religion into your stories? What is the reason?
I have used a matriarchal society in my novel, Life in Slake Patch as the background to a young man’s life in that regime. It was interesting to write about the influences and attitudes of a different society. In contrast my novel, The Twesome Loop, which covers two time periods, shows the patriarchal suppression in the 1800’s.
Last week’s question: How did you find your particular writing style? A creative writing class, a teacher, a format or something else? Do you write differently for different genres?
Well, your recent research is certainly more unique and interesting than mine. I think my writing style, whatever that may be,remains the same no matter what I write. However, my “voice” changes with each work, depending on the era, location, and age of my characters. The personality of my twenty-something Italian protagonist in my WW2 novel is a far cry from the thirty-something American artist in my current WIP.
I have researched medieval physician’s healing techniques, the circumstances of how a body can dry out and become a husk, natural substances that prevent pregnancy or induce sterility.
Today’s question is: Some writers create a bubble around themselves until they’re finished with their project – how true is that in your case?
For me, once I am writing/crafting a story the outside world disappears. I am within that world of my own creation and all external forces are forgotten. As I write the scenes play like a movie in my head, I experience the characters and their struggles.
How about you? Do you need to lock yourself away, go somewhere in particular or can immerse yourself in your story no matter where?
Last week’s question. What books do you keep for sentimental reasons?
I shared mine in the post and Pamela shared her love of Pinocchio.
Normal programming will continue with an author interview. Slight hiccup with the interview being completed. In the meantime I am re-posting this. It is rather apt as I am currently in the midst of editing a sequel myself and also involved with a small NaNoWriMo editing group where five authors and I are going through each other’s manuscripts. Several chapters a month works well for our process.
As writers we love to be immersed in our own creations -weaving plots, planning and following story arcs, creating character profiles as well as their trials and tribulations. Our minds are full of questions : What happens next? How would my character react? Is that plausible or believable? Can I improve on that scene? Have I shown not told? Is there too much exposition? Would the reader have enough description to envisage the scene?
Graph – speedofcreativity.com
All these questions need to be answered but not when we are writing the first draft. This initial phase is the most enjoyable part of creating a story. Remember to give your inner editor time off enabling you to create freely and get the basic story line written. Once you have finished, the ‘real’ work starts. Continuity, grammar, spelling, character development, revisions to scenes etc. the list is long and sometimes overwhelming. Where should you start?
Once the story is complete put it to one side and go onto new projects. Leave it for a month or more (I’ve left two projects for nearly 6 months). When you go back to re-read you have fresh eyes giving you new insights. Your revision process may be to correct everything above as you read each page or you could concentrate on one item at a time, re-reading each time giving you a particular focus. This second method does lean itself to sharpening the process as you are not trying to ‘spot’ numerous revision types at the same time. With your editing done let your favored readers have it. Take note of their suggestions and correct any errors they may find. No matter how many times you or your beta readers go through the manuscript there will always be a word missed, mis-spelt or a continuity slip up. How do you make your manuscript as good as it can be?
A professional editor – if you can afford one – is a good investment. However, one trick that may work for you in finding those elusive errors is to read the book from back to front page by page. Another is to read it out aloud to yourself or a understanding friend (a glass or two of wine helps with this one!) A missed word is very obvious with this technique.
When editing there may be sentences or even whole paragraphs that you know need to be revised or even omitted from the manuscript to help with the flow of the story line or scene. Deleting these is hard – it is your creation and your words were written through hard work. There are different opinions on what to do with these revisions but I think they should be saved in a separate document until you are absolutely sure you do want to delete them and even then you may keep them as a record of how the scene developed. They are a writer’s jetsam so to speak, which is my link to today’s calendar word. I had to squeeze it in somewhere!
These ejected words from our ‘ship’ may float on our hard drives or become washed up in a document folder but wherever they end up they are part of our creative soul and never truly lost. We may pick them up from the shore in the future to use in another piece of writing or they may stay hidden in the depths of our files. No matter which scenario occurs, they are born of you and precious all the same.
As writers we endeavor to produce the very best manuscript or article we can and that is why we endure the editing process. Without this method of correcting and improving, our creations will not be polished and worthy of reading and that is the one thing we all want – our work to be read and enjoyed.
I wish you fortitude in your process to make your work excel and delight your readers.
Writing both energizes and exhaust me, depending at what stage I am in the writing process. Coming up with cool plot lines and ideas, as well as character development is fun and energizing but about half way through the book, I bog down and get tired. A bit of writing ADHD?
What is your writing Kryptonite?
Chocolate. Laundry. Anything I can use to procrastinate!
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
Absolutely! Still haven’t ruled it out in fact.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
I didn’t have any writer friends until I decided to go on a writers retreat. It was there I learned I could call myself a writer even if I didn’t have a bestseller.
Do you want each book to stand alone, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
Both. Some will be connected, some absolutely not.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
Time away; retreats, get-aways, whatever I need to do to focus.
What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
I remember coming home from grade one, waving my reader. I was so excited, and so amazed at the world that was opened up to me through the words. I have never forgotten that feeling of awe and amazement.
What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
I’m not sure it is under-appreciated but I loved The Red Tent by Anita Diamant. I was hooked beginning with the first paragraph; such lyrical words and such a beautiful picture she painted.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
Gosh, I really don’t know. Maybe the A&W Root Bear?
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
What does literary success look like to you?
People like what they read and my writings make a difference in this world.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
I don’t do much research, as the type of books I have written don’t really require it. I may research the odd thing as I go along, just to make sure I have a name right or something. Most of my writing is based in some way on real life.
How many hours a day/week do you write?
Very sporadic and not disciplined. It can be from 20 hours to zero, sometimes one week after the other.
How do you select the names of your characters?
I try them on with their character to see if there is a fit or not. Pure gut instinct.
What was your hardest scene to write?
Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write more than one, how do you balance them?
My first book just happened. I call it my accidental book. It is a collection of FB posts from the time I announced my son had taken his life until about a year later. The second was a children’s book. Coming up I have a novel that walks the line between romance and smut (lol!). I also have a collection of stories that all involved the same women going through different things in their lives.
There is no real balancing as I go with what I am in the mood for and tend to work on that one until I am finished.
How long have you been writing?
Since I learned to read. I don’t really remember not writing.
What inspires you?
If I can find a place of solitude and peace with little distractions, lots of sleep and nature, I find that is when my creativity flourishes.
How do you find or make time to write?
Honestly, I don’t find enough time. I fit it in for the most part.
What projects are you working on at the present?
Finishing a novel is my primary focus right now.
What do your plans for future projects include?
I have a few non-fiction ideas that I would like to work on when I have the time to do the necessary research and interviews. There just are not enough hours in the day!
Carla Howatt lives in Alberta, Canada where she helped raise four children, two husbands and a pug. She is a recovering politician and business owner. A communicator at heart, Carla is also a proud introvert, port inhaler, and dark chocolate hunter.
I have to admit I have been rather distracted from my own writing recently (the freelance project is going well however). My distraction came in the form of a Netflix series called Peaky Blinders. Set in 1920’s Birmingham, UK the characters, especially Tommy Shelby, are captivating, raw, beautifully portrayed and ‘binge’ worthy. The story lines are inspired and as a writer this is ‘research’ at its best. The costumes, accents, locations and plot twists make this series one that will be remembered and referred to again and again.
Attention to detail makes the series really great and that is what all writers want to accomplish in their work too. We want our readers to envisaged our characters and their setting in vivid imagery. This is accomplished with speech patterns, descriptions, mannerisms and reactions to certain situations.
What methods do you use to bring your characters to life?
The second novel in this trilogy certainly does not disappoint.
Writing Tips: Marketing Your Book
Market and promote your book locally, then gradually expand your efforts. Create advertisements, such as business cards, posters and fliers, that will catch your target audiences’ eye. As a general rule, promoting your book locally is your best bet – use local newspapers, libraries, open mic nights, local writing groups and book clubs, etc.
Create an “elevator pitch”. With this focused message, aimed at a particular person or group you summarize why they should be interested in your book. Your elevator pitch should be no longer than two or three sentences focusing on your book’s selling points—the ones that make it unique and special.