Monday, July 19, 2010

How I write: A guest post by Courtney

Hello! My name is Courtney. I'm a 24 year old student/teacher/blogger/daughter/sister/fiancée. I'm also an aspiring author of several genres of fiction. I write Paranormal Romance and Contemporary Romance, as well as Romantic Suspense, Urban Fantasy, and Young Adult novels. Writing is my passion; research is my hobby. There’s nothing else I’d rather do than sit down and create stories.

You can find me on my personal blog, Work in Progress, at my critique group’s blog, CritiqueThisWIP, or on Twitter as @courtneyreese86

Now that the introductions are over, let’s move on to today’s post, shall we?

How do I write? Well, every writer is different, and we each have our own way of doing it. When I first decided to do this post, I assumed it would be fairly simple…an easy topic that I could tackle in a night. Boy was I wrong. I know how to write, but I’ve never looked at how I do it. I suppose this will be one of those self-enlightening posts in which everyone will look at me with wide, horror-struck eyes—and laugh. It’s okay; I like a good laugh too.

I’m a sucker for new ideas; I love them too much for my own good. I’m a total plotter but my novels aren’t set in stone. If something needs to change or I want to add a new bit, I fit it in. I like organization but I’m not rigid on the details. My novels always start off with a single thought or scene. From there, the control freak in me takes over and I start the plotting process. Usually, plotting is my favorite part. There is so much potential in the beginning that plotting is tons of fun. I use two dry erase boards and loads of post-it notes; everything is color coded. When the ideas start flying, the post-its start flying! Some of the ideas are really bad, but others are keepers. In the end, everything finds a place, be it in the trash can or in my book. After that, I transfer it all over my handy-dandy plotting-spreadsheets and start writing.

I was young when I first started writing; too young to really understand the dos and don’ts of grammar. I look back to those days with a happy kind of envy. Back then, writing was so easy. I didn’t care about commas or semi colons, participle phrases or dangling modifiers. All that mattered was getting the story written. Adverbs were my friends and ‘telling’ was the shit. Oh, how easy it used to be…

But then, one day, I started learning about grammar and my writing style started to change, subtly at first, then like a flood. Writing was not so simple anymore. And of course, (stubborn me) I can’t just write, and then go back later to edit. Nope, I have to do it all in one go; otherwise my writing isn’t worth the time it takes to read. I know, I know. Go ahead and scold me; I’ve heard it all before. It’s just the way I function—the way I write. It’ll take me an hour to write a paragraph sometimes. I’ve been working on switching my habits and writing without my editing-goggles on, but it’s still a tough task. Some days are easier than others, but for me, writing without editing is a huge undertaking. It takes work, practice, and a few too many slaps on the wrist. They say we use two different parts of the brain when writing and editing: the creative side and the analytical side. By doing the two-in-one, I’m actually handicapping myself.

I’m pretty anal about writing my stories. I’ve been known to take years to complete a novel. Some of them get written a bit faster, but a few stubborn ones refuse to be hurried along. My current WIP is the first in a paranormal romance series called Nightlings. So far, I’ve been working on this series for about two years, though I only started writing it about it year ago. It took me the better part of a year to plot out the first few books, get the characters established, and create my complex, paranormal world. I don’t mind the constant “time-suckage”; it’s all part of my writing style.

Have I ever given up on writing a novel? Yes and no. There was this fan-fiction piece I started writing in the 8th grade; it has been moved to the bottom of a drawer, never to again see the light of day. There is also a paranormal romance novel that started writing in high school. It was my first paranormal piece and I loved it! Unfortunately, the computer I was using did not love it, and crashed, taking my half-completed, 50,000 word WIP with it. That was the first time I learned the “back-up lesson”—and to this day, I hold a grudge against that damn PC.

So how do I write? It’s a constant battle…


Courtney Reese said...

This was so much fun to write! Thanks for giving me the opportunity!

kayleigh'skaleidoscope said...

No problem!

Tessa Conte said...

Hah! I've seen those spreadsheets...

Manic! (says the pantser)

Nice to meet you, Kayleigh, btw!