Thursday, June 26, 2014

Writing Styles, Sticky Notes, & Johnny Depp's Island

When it comes to writing, everyone has their own unique process, much like Johnny Depp has his own island, or the way every little newborn baby has his own unique hospital baby picture. Just look at my son's:

Cute, right? And it works for him, because he's a stubborn teen, so those little fists are super appropriate! But anyway, where was I? Ah, yes, writing. I've been tagged by my super-cool Crafty Chica friend, Kathy Cano-Murillo, to talk about my writing process. And, by the way, if you've never visited Kathy's website, then you have not experienced GLITTER at its full potential. Just look, Crafty Chica, and be prepared for your head to explode into an array of sparkly clouds. I usually don't like talking about my writing process, because I always feel like someone is going to come along and tell me that's not how I'm supposed to do it. But anyway, here it is, whether it sounds amateur or not...


 First, I make a list of things I want to write about, things I love. If I don't love the topic, I'm not going to spend 2-4 months of my time writing about it. I don't care how trendy it is or how many editors are looking for books of its kind, I. Will. Not. Write. It. Second, I select my favorite obsession du jour, then I figure out a really rough problem using "What If?" For example, "WHAT IF a teen girl obsessed with baking unlocks her late grandmother's magical spell that makes people fall in love through her baked goods?" Cool. It's a start. Then, I'll brainstorm all the different things that could possibly go right or wrong because of this, and put each of these on a sticky note. Then I'll put all these sticky notes in somewhat chronological order according to basic plotting points, such as Inciting Incident, Plot Point 1, Plot Point 2, Plot Point 3, Climax, and Ending. This way, I have a basic overview of what I'm about to tackle. It'll look something like this. Don't be frightened, it's just paper:

I have to do this. Because I suck at plotting in real life. Because if I just sit down to a blank page and write, my story will go in 5 different directions, and 3 of them will be dead ends, so this keeps me on a basic path. Then comes the fun part--characterization. I'll start a separate document where I'll just think of a character and start talking like her. I'll try to make her sound different from other characters I've written, just so they won't all sound like me. I give her a problem, and soon, she's talking about what she wants, who she dreams about, what makes her panties get into a twist. I also try to make sure that my story fills in these blanks, because, all in all, it's a story in a sentence:
This book is about ______ who really wants ______ but can't get it because of _______.


After this, I create a basic outline using everything I've created so far. I know what you're thinking. "Do you actually write anything when you're writing?" Actually, I do. 


So then...after I have this basic outline done, which by the way, doesn't have to be perfect, but I do need to see where I'm going, much like a road map, THENNNN I'll feel comfortable enough to start writing. I do all this, because in real life, I am a very efficient person. I only have 24 hours in the day with 50,383 things to do, so I must make sure I'm fitting everything in. I do NOT want to find out a month from now, that I've been going in the wrong direction with my story and have to start over. A little planning now goes a long way. Then the rest is smooth sailing.


I might light a candle and start writing. I might sit in my red leather chair and play with my curtains. I might blast Iggy Azalea and pretend I'm rapping at my book signing while dancing around the living room. I could do any number of creative things to get my mind flowing, but once it does, it does, and God help you all, because there is nothing to stop me until the book is done. 

Tag, You're It!

This has been my writing process in a nutshell. I will now tag two more teen authors whose books you might enjoy, Christina Diaz Gonzalez, the author of THE RED UMBRELLA and A THUNDEROUS WHISPER and Danielle Joseph, author of SHRINKING VIOLET, also known as RADIO REBEL on the Disney Channel, to see how their writing process is the same or different. And now...a picture of Johnny Depp and his island, just because. Goodnight, writers and readers!

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