On my Facebook Wall, Robert W. from Michigan asked a great question: …But, especially with you working on your next novel, how is it you approach each book? What is your general approach to writing a book? Your novels always seem SO carefully pieced together, and I’ve never read endings better than the ones to your works, and I’m just curious what your process is for that.
First, thank you for the kind words about the structure of my books and their endings.I don’t know how my fellow authors do it, but I work long and hard on each novel.
I take one of two paths when I am working on a book; I either enter the story through character or I enter it through plot. When I start with character, I tend to meander around and write a lot of scenes that are eventually cut, but that help me understand the background and motivations of the people in the story. If I start with plot, the scenes are developed in a much more systematic fashion, but I keep a separate journal in which I develop my characters.
If you saw any of my first drafts, you would die laughing. They are truly pathetic. (For the record I would like to note that nobody ever gets to see my first drafts. It is the only way I can hang on to my dignity.) I don’t know that I am a good writer. I do believe I am a better than average reviser.
When I start a book, I usually have a sense of the character and at least one or two scenes have popped in my head. Examples: Speak – rape survivor who hasn’t told about the attack trying to get through her freshman year in high school. Twisted – average teen guy driven to the brink of suicide. Prom – working class girl figures out that the world is filled with possibilities. Catalyst – Brilliant, perfect girl finds out that straight As mean nothing in real life.
No book ever drops fully-formed into my head. It always takes months and months of writing, questioning, back-tracking, pondering, applying the principals of logic and human behavior and checking for spelling mistakes. And that is what I am going to go do right now – work on my new story. (Sorry I can’t be more specific about what I’m writing right now. The Muse would be horrified if I spilled the beans this early. Ask me again in six months.)