My writing process

Last week, my friend and fellow author Tricia Drammeh tagged me in the My Writing Process blog hop, so that’s what I’ll be talking about today.  I’ll try not to bore you all to tears, but no promises.

I kid.  I won’t bore you.  I hope. 😀

What are you currently working on?

Lipei Artwork by Hazel Butler

Lipei
Artwork by Hazel Butler

I’m currently in the midst of rewriting The Lokana Chronicles.  I think this is Official Rewrite No. 3, but since I’ve been working on this series for the better part of a decade, it’s hard to tell – I’ve decided that keeping track of all the revisions this thing has undergone is impossible, and I gave up trying a long time ago.  Once I finish revising the first book, I’ll be heading back to the query trenches with it, and this time, I hope I’ll have better luck.  I feel like the story is much stronger now than it was the first time I queried, and I hope to find someone who agrees with me.

I also have a short story in the works called The Colony, which is about a group of people sent to colonize Mars.  The colony experiment is funded by a group known only as the Company and was inspired by the Mars One project.  If you haven’t heard of it, Google it (or just go here) – it’s fascinating.  But then, space exploration has always appealed to me.

I’m also mulling an idea for a wolf tale that I can submit for inclusion in the anthology Nighteyes, which is being published by Astrid Press.

How does your work differ from others in its genre?

Well, I write fantasy, but there are no orcs or elves or trolls or dwarves, or really anything all that fantastical.  Except there’s this portal that connects Lokana to an alternate dimension (or reality or world or whatever else you want to call it) called Arkona, which is our own modern world.  Lokana has a medieval feel to it; much of the population relies on dreams and superstition to guide them, and religion is an integral part of their society, despite the efforts of kings to eliminate it.  Arkona, meanwhile, is analogous to contemporary Iowa, where the people are hard-working and stoic (at least in my story, anyway).

I’m told this portal feels tacked on, that it sticks out and jars the reader.  As part of my rewrite, I’m working to make it feel more natural, which requires delving into Lokani history as the thing is quite ancient and had been forgotten for centuries by the time it appears in the story.  When I started writing these books, I didn’t want to follow in Tolkien’s footsteps, as it seemed so many others were doing at the time.  I wanted to forge my own path, but I hadn’t exactly figured out how to do it and was blinded to the faults in my work for a long time.  Lucky for me, I stumbled into the online writing community – my work has greatly improved since my first timid posting on authonomy.

At least, I hope it has.

Why do I write what I write?

Anná Artwork by Hazel Butler

Anná
Artwork by Hazel Butler

Simply put, I write what I want to read.  I want romance and adventure and a break from the everyday; I want well-constructed plotlines and thoughtful, engaging characters.  I hope I’m able to cram all that into a satisfying book; I’ve been trying for nearly twenty years to do so, and as I listed my wants in a book just now, snippets of old stories surfaced from the depths of my memory.  My earlier efforts contained plenty of romance and adventure and escapes from the everyday, but they were all heavily influenced by the steady diet of daytime soap operas I consumed as a teenager.  And yes, they were all quite cringe-inducing.

How does your writing process work?

I’m something of a pantser, so usually when I get an idea, I just run with it and edit the crap out of it when I’m done.  This makes for many and lengthy revisions, though, so I’ve shifted to synopsizing, meaning when I get a story idea, I write a synopsis up.  Once I have an idea of what I want to happen, I can expand my synopsis into a full-fledged story.

I blame my pantser ways on a mile-wide stubborn streak and an ex-boyfriend who insisted that the only way to write a publishable story was to outline the thing to within an inch of its life.  I set out to prove him wrong, but I’m not sure I ever did.  Meanwhile, even with my synopsizing, I still don’t generally have a clue how a story is going to end until I get to the end myself.  At least my synopsis helps me decide which way I want the story to go, so when I get to the end, it doesn’t feel forced.  Er, I hope it doesn’t feel forced anyway.

And now, to nominate some others to participate!  How about Jenni Sweet and Roger Lawrence?  I hope you have as much fun answering these questions as I did, and I hope everyone else has fun reading them!

(c) 2014.  All rights reserved.

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14 thoughts on “My writing process

  1. mylongdalliance says:

    Thank you for giving me a little insight to your writing process. I can relate to what you said about editing. I tend to write and write and write…and then edit the crap out of it in the end. Sometimes I cut it to shreds so much though that I find myself with a few pieces of the jigsaw missing. 🙂

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  2. domingosaurus says:

    I too write very much the same way. I get a rudimentary idea, then just blurt it all out onto paper (or my monitor.) Then I just read it over and revise. Read it over and revise. Read it over and revise, until I’m satisfied with it. Which I almost never am. Which is why I have something like 10,000 unfinished writing projects occupying my external hard drive. I do occasionally manage to write and post an amusing blog entry or two, from time to time.

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    • Kay Kauffman says:

      Yep. I have finished projects to my name, but they’re quite old and quite awful. The Lokana Chronicles is the first thing I’ve written that’s even close to publishable.

      Of course, in my stack of unfinished projects are a couple that are very dear to my heart, and I have them in mind for my next writing adventure. Neither of them are fantasy, though, so we’ll see what happens! 🙂

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  3. Elaine Jeremiah says:

    It’s so interesting to read about your writing process Kay and how your style has developed over the years. Sounds like you’ve worked really hard on your novel. I was wondering if you’d considered self-publishing, or if that’s something you’ve ruled out?

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    • Kay Kauffman says:

      Initially, I ruled it out because even though the stigma attached to self-publishing is (rightly) fading, it’s something I still feel (this despite having self-published a collection of poetry). But now that I’ve had a bit more time to weigh all my options, if I can’t find an agent to represent me and if I can’t find a small press that would publish me, then I’ll consider self-publishing. I think I’d prefer to go the traditional route, but so long as my stories are out there and people enjoy them, does it really matter the route they take to the reading public?

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      • Elaine Jeremiah says:

        Absolutely not! I think really that self-publishing is the way to go for most people – it is for me anyway. By self-publishing us indie authors can get our work out there being read by people so much more quickly than by traditional publishing. But I guess it’s also what you’re comfortable with. 🙂

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        • Kay Kauffman says:

          Exactly. I’m not sure I’m comfortable with all the extra work involved (I’m terrible at marketing) and the up-front costs for things like editing and cover art. But if the traditional path isn’t meant for me, I’ll have to get more comfortable with those things because I don’t want to spend my life wondering what might have been about going the self-published route.

          At the end of the day, if people are reading my work and loving it, that’s what’s important. And if I have to learn a few new things along the way to that outcome, so be it. 🙂

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  4. M T McGuire says:

    I, too, am a pantser, but I usually have an end to work towards. Indeed, the four book trilogy I’ve just finished was meant to be one book and the last scene was the second one I wrote.

    Cheers

    MTM

    Like

    • Kay Kauffman says:

      I find endings to be the hardest part of writing! I typically have a very general idea of where I want the story to go, but not usually much beyond that. On the other hand, the first chapter of The Lokana Chronicles was actually the last one I wrote (at least in the rough draft, anyway).

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