James Pailly of the Tomorrow News Network has asked me to participate in the Writing Process Blog Hop / Writer’s Blog Tour. [See James’ post for the hop.] To participate, an author answers the tour’s four questions about their writing, and then invites several others (three seems to be the most common number) to do the same. Traditionally, these are posted on Mondays, but my work schedule forced me to post on a Tuesday.
What are you currently working on?
My rough goal is to post a science fiction review every week, and a non-fiction review every other week. I have also started writing some science fiction. My first project (originally envisioned as a short story, but now potentially something longer) involves non-human characters of terrestrial origin. I will be making a complete change of career in the next couple of weeks or months, and I’m not sure how that will impact my time available for creative writing.
How does your work differ from others in its genre?
My reviews are usually of indie works (intentionally) which are short stories (due to time constraints). My creative project has the non-human characters mentioned above, and also a non-traditional structure; instead of following a single character or group of characters, it spans a long time period, following a different character in each timeframe. Other authors have pulled off one of these things or the other in a story, but I’m trying to put two atypical elements together.
Why do you do what you do?
I’ve spent the last three years hating my work and living in a country whose people I can no longer stand. I’m no psychologist, but I think this may have been what led me to spend time thinking and writing about fictional worlds. I looked into publishing options (this may sound premature, but in my opinion, you need to adopt a different writing style if you’re going through gatekeepers vs. directly to the consumer) and decided that in the current environment, self-publishing is my best option (if people are interested in the topic, I may post about my reasoning later).
I looked at what self-published sci-fi was available on my kindle (I’ve been a science fiction reader since 1980, but had only used my kindle for non-fiction), and was amazed by the number of books. I started wondering how authors get anyone to read their stories, and how readers choose their next purchase from so many options. I’m still struggling with the answers to those questions, but the need for a Planetary Defense Command was clear almost immediately.
How does your writing process work?
For science fiction reviews, my process is subjective when giving out high ratings but gets more objective as the ratings go lower. I give my highest (4/4) rating to stories that spark my imagination. I give the next rating (3/4) to stories that are “page turners” – I want to find out what happens next. My standard rating (2/4) is given out when something makes me lose focus on the story; I’m wondering what a character is doing, what the author is doing, or why something seems off about the setting or a technology. The lowest rated stories are easy to spot, they are usually full of grammatical errors and gaping plot holes.
When writing my own fiction, I’m at the extreme “outliner” end of the spectrum; I don’t do “on the fly”. Before I write a single sentence of the finished product, I know the entire plot, what each character’s role is in each event, and the setting where each event will take place. Then I build a “skeleton” document, which is an ordered series of single sentences describing each scene. It would look like a longer version of this:
The main character learns that his boss has been cheating him.
The main character punches his boss in the nose.
The boss wakes up in the hospital.
Then, under each sentence, I’ll write whatever is needed to express that idea, from a single paragraph to multiple pages.
I’m inviting the following other authors/bloggers to participate in the hop:
Justine Allen is the author of a novel and several short stories. I really appreciated her recent posts about her experience with the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. I have not read any of Justine’s work yet, but I’ve loaded a couple of her short stories onto my Kindle.
Sean Munger has written several novels. I haven’t read it yet, but I am intrigued by Zombies of Byzantium, as it takes place in an interesting historical setting. In typical Byzantine fashion, the Emperor decides not to kill the zombies; he uses them to fight the Saracens instead.
I haven’t contacted these bloggers in advance, but I will update this post with links to their responses should they choose to participate.