Writers On Writing

Last week Rebecca Behrens blogged about her writing process and tagged me with a request to post answers to the same questions. I had so much fun reading Rebecca’s answers, and I jumped at the chance to chat about my own writing…

1. What are you currently writing? 

I hesitate to talk too much about what I’m writing until I have a workable draft done (because so much ends up changing between that first paragraph and The End), but I can tell you that I’ve been playing with scenes for a sequel to a ghost story I wrote a few years ago. There’s a chance these little bits of a possible story will never see the light of day, but they’ve been super inspiring and I’ve loved every second of being back in my original story’s world. For now, I’m going with it. I’m also mentally musing something completely new, but I’m still hammering out a lot of the big picture. This one’s going to be set somewhere warm and sunny (I have cemented that detail), and it’s going to have a lot of guys who spend a lot of time in board shorts. So that’s fun.

2. What makes your work different?

My voice. It’s something I’ve never struggled with (plot’s a completely different story!), and voice is one aspect of my writing that readers almost always compliment. Also, I write romances with a lot of kissing, usually from the get-go. A lot of romance writers seem to hold off on that first kiss for as long as possible, but not me. My characters kiss early and often — because why not? 😉

3. Why do you write what you do?

I write stories with similarities to the novels I love to read. My stories always, always, always have strong romantic threads. I like characters that are rendered in shades of gray, so I try to make my fictional people complicated. I’m drawn to stories set in small-ish towns, so my settings are usually quaint. I prefer reading novels that have a more melancholy feeling, and the stories I write do as well. And I read YA almost exclusively (because it’s the best!), so that’s what I write. Teenagers are so complex. I remember that time in my life as being riddled with question marks and insecurities and uncertainties, and, surprisingly enough, I enjoy revisiting it through my writing.

4. What is your writing process?

Ha… I wish you could see the befuddlement on my face. I don’t know if I really have a set process? I can tell you that I spend a long time considering an idea before I sit down to write. I plot using a beat sheet, and then I plot again, scene by scene using Scrivener’s cork board. I use Pinterest to collect visuals and sites helpful for research. I set daily word count goals keep myself accountable. I start a writing sesh by rereading what I wrote the previous day (I read somewhere that Sarah Dessen does the same thing, so…), and I am not against editing as I go. I keep a running list of revision ideas to address when I’m done drafting, and I keep a list of story details — minor characters’ names, birthdays, dates of significant events, etc. When I get stuck, I take breaks. When I get frustrated, I email my CPs. When I get disenchanted, I read something by an author I love, which is always inspiring. I love to revise, so when drafting seems impossible, I think of the many days I’ll eventually get to spend making everything cohesive and pretty. So, I guess that’s sort of a process?

Thank you again for the tag, Rebecca! I’m tagging Tracey Neithercott and Liz Parker. Looking forward to hearing more about your process, girls!

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28 responses to “Writers On Writing

  1. First–ghost story? Yes please! That’s what my current WIP (1000 words in…woo!) is. Excited for you! If it goes somewhere, I’d love to be on the beta list 🙂

    I love that you use Scrivener’s cork board. I might give that a try. Thanks for the tag!

    • Liz! My ghost story is actually “done,” though I’m planning to revise it in the near future. Maybe you can read it for me when it’s completely finished? That would be seriously amazing! And yay for the cork board! Now that I use it, I can’t imagine life without it. 🙂

  2. Ooh, I love a good ghost story set somewhere warm and sunny!
    I’ve been meaning to look into Scrivener more seriously. I’m clinging to MS Word–but I feel like Scrivener offers some great tools, like the corkboard.
    Thanks for sharing about your process, Katy!

    • I clung to MS Word for a long, long time, Rebecca. Then I “won” NaNo and bought Scrivener for 1/2 off, and now I can’t imagine life without it. Highly recommend. 🙂

  3. Kissing from the get go…those are my kind of books!

  4. Ooooh, a ghost story sounds awesome 😀

    I’ve thought about Scrivener, but I’m kind of attached to my real life corkboard and whiteboards, so Word does all I need right now. Who knows though, I may one day change my mind.

    Thanks for sharing your process with us!

  5. I’m so glad I’m not the only one who has no real idea what her process actually IS. 😉

  6. Voice is what makes your story unique, which is why having a strong voice can be what makes or breaks a story. You are indeed blessed to have such a strong voice in your stories, Katy. 🙂

    • Thank you so much, Colin! I agree that a strong voice can make or break a story; my favorite novels have an almost indiscernible quality that just makes them sing.

  7. Rachelwrites007

    A ghost story sounds awesome. And a sequel? You are BRAVE, Katy! I’m set to post one of these on Monday, so we’ll see how that goes. Voice is something that is so hard to explain but when it’s done well is AMAZING. Holy crow. 🙂

  8. You definitely have a process! I’m blown away by all of your plotting. That’s impressive! Good luck on your current project! I’ve never written a sequel before, but the idea terrifies me.

    • Yeah, sequels are totally intimidating! But I really love these characters, and this sequel is really more of a follow-up; it’s got a completely new set of problems. So, kind of the best of both worlds: an already established cast and world, but enough freedom to not feel bogged down by details. So far, so good. 🙂

  9. I agree with your voice. It´s amazing…and I always miss your characters after I´m done reading one of your stories.
    Really. Amazing.
    🙂

  10. I can’t wait for the release of this ghost story. I have some of my own to reveal, but I’m waiting for the right time. Everything is a gamble in the writing world.

    • Haha… Well, hopefully it’ll sell one of these days and you can read it. I agree… Writing is a huge gamble. So many factors that we can’t control. Best of luck with your projects!

  11. Oh, I love reading/writing kissing stories, too! I do seem to hold back for the perfect kiss in my stories, but now you’ve made me want to write something where they kiss right away! Do you find it more of a challenge to keep the romantic tension high once they’ve had that first kiss so quickly?

    • I do. But to me, it’s worth the extra effort of coming up with other obstacles to throw at the characters, if that makes sense. Sometimes I get annoyed with books when characters who should so obviously be kissing end up pulling back seconds before, over and over and over. Of course, there are other books that execute that same thing brilliantly and totally make the kiss worth the wait. 🙂

  12. A big yes on stories with strong romantic threads, complicated characters, and a melancholy feeling. That’s mostly what I like to write too. Thanks for sharing your process, and have fun musing about this new idea of yours! 🙂

  13. I love your writing voice. (I’m sure your speaking voice is nice, too.) And you do shades-of-gray characters so well. My writing process is very similar to yours. All I have to say is, THANK GOODNESS FOR SCRIVENER!

    Thanks for tagging me!

  14. Noticed Scrivener in the photo and have been considering getting it…just have never used software before and not sure what it would do for me…

    • Kim, it took awhile for me to be sold on Scrivener, to be honest. I was perfectly happy with Word. But then I “won” NaNo and bought Scrivener for 1/2 price and started playing with it. Its organizational capabilities alone make it worth its cost and learning curve. I love it, and I don’t ever plan on returning to Word. Let me know if you decide to give it a try!