A: In 1st grade, Mrs. White encouraged her class to use the computer to type up stories. They were usually short, frequently misspelled, and each page was a sentence long with room enough to spare for illustrations. I had fifty or more of these books which were bound in construction paper and lovingly stored away by my mother for many years. I think my hope of one day being a published writer started there. In 2nd grade I wrote a series of picture books about Sprinkle who was a fairy godmother/Cinderella combo, her marriage to Prince Tom, and their seventeen children and pets whose names all began with ‘S’ or ‘T.’ As I grew up my writing progressed from poetry onto fanfiction and then onto blogging. I’ve always had a creative outlet.
A: Yes. I excelled in English and Reading in grade school. In high school I got A’s in English and I was president of the Writer’s Guild Club. We met on Fridays after school got over. (I can hear you all cringe at the idea of staying late after school on a Friday. Oooo.) The club focused mostly on poetry where the challenge would be to write something that met a bunch of crazy parameters. We concluded our meetings at a Dunkin’ Donuts / Baskin Robins combo. My best friends were in the club and we’d get together after everyone left and chill out for the weekend. It was great. It should be no surprise that in college I got an A in my poetry class. 🙂
A: Write. Write anything. Write a poem. Write a short story. Write a fanfic. Write a novel. Write a play. Write a song. Journal. Dream diary. Write. Just write. If you don’t write you won’t have anything to share. And read. Read a lot. Read what you want to write about. Read about stuff that inspires you. Read. When you read pay attention to the thoughts you are thinking – How would you have handled that scene? How would the story be different if this or that happened?
A: Starting. I had several rough starts for the first book in the Zaria Fierce trilogy. I believe this was because I wasn’t fully invested in those first few ideas. The best part of each rough start was the description of Zaria Fierce. I honed her as a character and abandoned those early drafts. I wrote the prologue that would start Zaria Fierce and the Secret of Gloomwood Forest in May 2014. I didn’t pick it up again until late September. When I did Zaria’s story was at my fingertips and the rest was easy.
A: When I was world building for Zaria Fierce, I started a document to contain all of my ideas such as titles, plot bunnies, characters, places, and more. This document was centered around a now abandoned plot for Zaria, but the titles within were gold to me. Even as I abandoned the overall plot I kept returning to the titles and the titles spun little intricate webs until they gathered into a cohesive whole and inspired the current plot for the trilogy. As pulled from this original world building document, other possible titles that Zaria Fierce and the Secret of Gloomwood Forest could have been, include:
- Zaria Fierce and the Mystery of Gloomwood Forest
- Zaria Fierce and the Hart of Frostwood Forest
- Zaria Fierce and the Glasswood Quest
- Zaria Fierce and the Thornwood Torch
- Zaria Fierce and the Banished Knights of Banewood Forest
Do you have a favorite?
A: There’s no right or wrong answer to this question because there are multiple ways to get unblocked. For me, I stop writing and put the story away. For the rest of the day I do anything else. The problem of what to do next is revealed and I can start writing again the next day feeling fresh and inspired to keep going.
A: Yes, I do! Almost always. The music I listen to when I write is generally free of lyrics such as classical music or instrumentals. I like listening to lyric-free music because it is not distracting and can enhance a mood of a scene. I imagine sometimes that the track I’m listening to would play in the background of a movie-version of Zaria Fierce.
A: I have three. The first is when Zaria and Geirr meet Norwick for the first time. I like it because Zaria is undaunted by a ferocious mythical wild animal. The second is when the children escape from their cell in Trolgar. It’s a favorite because it was a part of the story where I felt blocked. The answer ending up being a fresh twist on a cliché. The third is Zaria’s escape on the elk through the forest. It’s magical to me.
A: Both! Generally speaking, I know enough about my plot and story before I start writing that I have an idea for a beginning and an ending. I might even have a few middle scene parameters. But, how does the start of the book reach my conclusion parameters? It is here that I step back and allow the characters and events to help tell the story. I allow for spontaneity and improvisation because I believe it helps keep the story lively and natural.