Asylum Blog Tour Day 15: Guest Post by K.A. Tucker
Posted by What The Cat Read
Today we felines are pleased to host the wonderful K.A. Tucker as she tour’s her newest book in the Casual Enchantment series. If you are not familiar with Tucker’s books, feel free to check out Sara’s review of Anathema, which is the first book of this wonderful series. And so, without much further ado, we shall step aside and allow Kathleen to take over the blog! ~purrs and extreme tail waves of approval~
Thank you for hosting me here today, on “What the Cat Read”! Several people have asked me how I write a book. Today, I’ll talk a little bit about my writing process.
First off, I’d like to highlight something about the question: it’s about my writing process and how I write a book. You’ll notice it’s all about me. I’m not self-involved…really. But one thing I’ve learned through this entire experience is that you can talk to a hundred different writers and you’ll get a hundred different pieces of advice and a dozen different ‘ways’ to write a book. The critical thing to realize is that every person is different – their personalities, their skill set, their life commitments, their comfort with plotting vs letting their imagination lead them blindly down a path…
What works for me and how did I discover my process? Through experimenting and educating myself (a.k.a. painfully). When I started Anathema, I didn’t know how to write a book but I knew I had to start somewhere, so I simply started telling a story. It wasn’t until I finished the first draft and took an online course by Holly Lisle called “How to Revise Your Novel” that I began understanding what my ideal writing process works.
I now begin with a rough outline. It’s not overly-developed but it highlights the key plot lines, the key conflicts, and what needs to happen. That helps guide my overall thoughts but allows me flexibility to weave in subplots and change things around without feeling like I’m completely veering off my course. Once that’s complete, I start writing my first draft, focusing on the plot. I don’t worry about the words I’m writing. I joke that my first draft look like a six-year-old wrote it. It’s true! It’s very much ‘she looked angry’, ‘he shouted’, ‘the ground was cold’. What this does is allow me to shape the setting, the mood and the characters’ reactions while forming the plot but I don’t put too much focus on the words. For me, “plotting” and “writing” are two different stages, requiring their own focus. If you’re thinking about a book like a human body, I describe the plot as the “skeleton”. You need the skeleton before you can put ‘the meat’ (the real words) on. You need to make sure the bones are in the right place, where they make the most sense. Eye sockets on the bottom of feet or arms shooting out from knees aren’t very functional, are they? In the same way, I want to make sure that the plot and sub-plots are put together in a way that makes sense.
Once I’m done the first draft, I distance myself for a week or two and then I print off a hard copy. As I go through it, I make notes on thoughts that come to me, on my gut feel, on any questions or ideas I need to develop further. But, if I’m comfortable with my structure, I switch to “writing”. This is where I add the ‘meat’ to the skeleton; the words that turn the plot into a story.
Sometimes in this process, I come up with new ideas. It’s hard not to derail the story with them but I can’t ignore them. So, I give a lot of thought to the idea – to the ramifications of changing the story to add it in (because there always seems to be a change. It’s never as simple as just ‘adding it in”!). I ask myself a lot of questions. I think about how it impacts the current story, what doors it opens up in the plot, and if it makes the story better vs different. If I decide to go with the idea, then I go with it, making any changes I need. Sometimes it’s painful because it means deleting and rearranging and I need to switch back to the ‘plotting’ stage to ensure it’s worked in properly.
After I’ve gone through the above stages, I sit on the manuscript (again) for a few weeks or as long as I possibly can and then I do the revision. Holly Lisle’s big sell to her course is the idea of one revision. With Asylum, I found I couldn’t do only one revision. I did two. The first one was going through the story to look for any weaknesses in my writing (i.e. showing vs telling, passive vs active, character disconnects, etc.) and I adjusted as I went. I had already reviewed the plot and the conflicts because I spent the time in phase one, focusing on that, so I didn’t need to do it again here. At this point in Asylum, I pulled in my two fantabulous beta readers. After their input, I did the final sweep, cleaning typos ,etc up.
And THAT is when I sent Asylum to my editor. That’s the last stage in my writing process and one I can’t see myself ever walking away from. Yes, it’s an investment but when I get that final file back, I feel confident that it is in the best shape it can be in and that mistakes I’m bound to miss no matter how many times I go over the manuscript have been caught by an educated set of eyes.
That’s my writing process! I’m starting it again with A… oops! I almost gave the name away… with Book 3 in the series and I’m starting to feel very comfortable with it, which tells me it’s the right one for me 🙂
Thanks to What the Cat Read for hosting me here today on my Asylum Tour! If you haven’t started the series yet, go grab an ecopy of Anathema from Kindle, Nook, Apple, Sony, or Smashwords. It’s free right now! Asylum is only $2.99. Also don’t forget to sign up for the month long giveaway running right now. I’m giving away print books and ecopies of Asylum 🙂
Curious to see which other blogs are participating in the tour? Please visit K.A. Tucker’s website: http://www.katuckerbooks.com/asylum-blog-tour.html for a full list! Also don’t forget to sign up for the month-long giveaway HERE for a copy of Asylum! And finally, please come back tomorrow to see Sara’s review of Asylum. 🐱