OK - so I may not be a PUBLISHED author - YET...but it's surprising how many people ask me questions about the writing process after they read my work. It's also surprising how many people either do write or want to write. Or maybe it's not all that surprising when you think about it. They - who ever THEY is - say that everyone has a story to tell. And I agree with THEM. So below are the questions I get asked the most and my humble responses. I do not consider myself an expert - on anything - but - like the rest of the world - I do have opinions - so for what it's worth, here are my thoughts on the subject of WRITING....
Do you start with an outline - like what each chapter will cover?
This is a great question - ever since I wrote my first book I started paying attention to what published authors say when asked this - and they are all over the board - some of them make really detailed elaborate outlines and time lines before they begin writing a paragraph - others just wing it - and others do a little bit of both - when I started The House of Roses I had absolutely no idea what the story was going to be about - who the characters were - or what would happen - I just wanted to write a book that I would like to read - after the first couple of pages the only things I knew that I wanted in the book were: #1 a love story - #2 a house - and #3 a mystery - that 's the kind of escapist novels I like to read - and they're actually hard to find - the story, the characters and the plot all evolved as I went along - and the funny thing was that even I didn't know what was in the secret box until I actually wrote it!!! - each chapter seemed to just naturally lead to the next - my husband and I spent a lot of time talking about different things that Josie and JT would do in the story and he actually wrote the chapters that were from JT's perspective - but I literally did not know from one page to the next what was going to happen - even when I wrote the solution to the mystery I only had a vague idea in my head and as I wrote, it just fleshed itself out and became very real...
Is it better to write in 1st or 3rd person mode?
From the things I've read I get the sense that professionals sometimes think that writing in the first person is the EASY approach and something that new authors gravitate to it the most because of that - personally I think this has more to do with the type of story you're writing - from the reader's perspective, a simple romance becomes more personal to me when I am reading it when written from the first person mode - I can more easily identify with the character and sink deeply into the story line - however, when reading more complex plot lines such as thrillers and paranormal, third person can be a better approach so that you are not limited in your story telling by only having one voice and one point of view - third person gives you greater freedom to explore how a variety of your characters think and feel and can make your story much more interesting - I don't think either point of view is necessarily easier than the other - once you start your story in a particular voice a rhythm naturally occurs as you write and you continue on in that voice - if you're not sure which way to start - write your first chapter in both first and third person - I would bet that before you finish both versions you will know which point of view is the most appropriate - the writing will automatically flow more smoothly from the point of view that works the best for your story.
How do you tastefully write about sex without it sounding like porn?
And this was probably the toughest part of the whole book - I really struggled with it - after all - my child, my mother, my uncle, my nephews were all going to read the book - I just wasn't comfortable being graphic - and I also didn't want to just skip over it and leave it all behind closed doors - I mean it IS a love story - so the physical side of love has got to be part of it - I'm not a prude and didn't want to completely leave it out - but the other side of it was that I wanted to write these scenes in a way that I as a reader would be comfortable reading them - I know that the common thought is that women really want to read racy stuff and that's what sells books - but I don't - when I'm reading a book that really details the sex scenes I tend to skip over them to get back to the plot - but that's just me - who knows - I ended up writing it the way I wanted to - and in the end - this may be what keeps me from actually selling the book - I guess we shall see...
Is it considered ok to use curse words (if that is what a person really said)?
Ever since I wrote my first book I have tended to be more critical when I read for pleasure - and also I think I pay way too much attention to how books are written - it's hard for me to just get lost in a story anymore - the book has to be really well written for that - so - in answer to your question - I think the answer is that it depends on the WRITING - if the writing flows and all of the words just seem to fit - then I don't think curse words or poor grammar or whatever it is, creates an issue - as long as the reader gets lost in the story, than it works - but - at the same time - this also depends on the audience you are writing for - the more research I do on the business side of writing seems to show that books are really pigeon holed to fit into a certain category - romance, paranormal, young adult, etc. - so - if you're trying to get sold, then using certain verbiage might take your book out of the genre you're targeting - which could create problems in trying to get someone to buy your work - but if it is up to me - my thought is that in many situations only SPECIFIC words can immediately convey the message you are trying to deliver - so do what you feel like - dammit!
Are flashbacks a bad thing or is it better to just write in a straight line without referring back?
I personally like flash backs - when done right - they really help with the back story and can create a good break in the pace of the plot - particularly when used as repetitive pattern - just when the reader gets really excited and can't wait to see what happens next - a flashback will pull you into a whole different part of the story - and then just when you can't wait to see where that piece of the story goes, you're brought back into the present and are off again - I think it can be a brilliant device to keep the pages turning - BUT - used in a not so good way - flashbacks can be frustrating for the reader - better make sure both parts of the story are equally riveting - otherwise the reader will abandon you...
I have 3 different ideas going on (maybe a short story) - not sure what genre they would fall under - kinda spooky influence, w/some romance ... satire, ... a lot of drama! (just described my life LOL)
You know - I think a really good story is what counts - even though the people actually in the publishing business strongly encourage sticking to a specific category, I kind of hate the whole "genre" thing - is The House of Roses a romance? - a historical romance? - a contemporary romance? - romantic suspense? - chick lit? - I have no idea - all I know is that anyone who has actually read The House of Roses LOVES it! - and that includes a lot of very diverse people - men/women - younger/older - professionals/blue collar - readers/non-readers - friends/strangers - believe me - I've passed my copy machine prints around to an awful lot of people to see if I am crazy to keep pursuing my dream - and what keeps me going is the reaction I get when someone new reads the book - they get hooked and want to see how it turns out - just what every writer hopes for - so - speaking as an unpublished author - or more accurately as a WRITER - keep writing what ever interests YOU - don't try and make it a formulaic version of what you think is marketable - by simply writing something that entertains you - you've achieved your goal - worry about the marketing part later - just like me - whether published or not - writing is creating something that lasts - in the minds and hearts of of everyone who reads your words - and in the end - that's all that matters!