My Writing Process – A Writer’s Blog Tour

A writer pal of mine, Miranda Kate, invited me to join in on the, ‘My Writing Process Blog Tour’. The purpose of said tour is self-explanatory– to share what I do and how I do with my fellow writers and readers.
Miranda’s post can be found here; http://purplequeennl.blogspot.nl/2014/02/my-writing-process-blog-tour.html

Mine, should you choose to suffer through it, is below…


What am I working on?

Well… my long-term work-in-progress– a noir novel– is fighting me. Hard. I’m hitting back, scoring points with the judges where I can, but that’s about all. In the meantime, I’ve got a noir serial going, with segments posted every other week on the Daily Picspiration Blog. I’m also working on three to four short stories at any given time. The longer works are almost always noir or hard-boiled. I sometimes branch out to ghost stories and fantasy in short stories.


How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I don’t know that it does, and at this very early stage of my writing career I’m more or less all right with that. My voice is my own. I’ve had it since the first time I set pen to paper. However, as I make the transition from shadow boxer to published author I’m happy to follow in the footsteps of my heroes– Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, Ross MacDonald, Jim Thompson, and Patricia Highsmith– while I hone my skills and learn to use that voice to greatest effect.


Why do I write what I do?

I’ve always been drawn to the dark side of life. Monsters. Killers. All that fun stuff. I think my father has to shoulder some of the blame. He’s the one who introduced me to Poe at a very young age. For many years I thought I wanted to be a horror writer, to follow in the tradition of Algernon Blackwood, H.P. Lovecraft, and even M.R. James. A college friend turned me onto Jim Thompson. I took that road, bottomed out in noir country, and have never looked back.

How does my writing process work?

My writing process, such as it is, begins with an idea. A piece of an idea, to be more specific. A single image. One character trait– it could be a garment he or she wears, a facial feature, an idiosyncrasy. Most often, though, it starts with a line of dialogue.

I carry a little notebook around with me so I can jot things down wherever I am, but am still prone to using any available scrap of paper to scribble notes on. I’ve got eight, ten scraps of paper in my pockets at any given time.

I’m a walking trash can by the end of a day.

When it comes time to sit down at the machine I’ll take out my scraps, open the notebook, and start cataloging the ideas so I don’t have to keep track of a million little pieces of paper.

I run with whichever idea gives the the best in, whichever one I’m able to build off of right then and there. Fourteen chapter serial noir novels have started this way, as have two hundred word pieces of flash fiction.

Nine times out of ten my fragmentary idea becomes the point from which the rest of the story grows. I almost always have to go back and create a beginning to lead into it but the story develops from that initial seed.

There are days, when I’m really feeling it, on which I’m able to build onto both sides of the idea at the same time. Those are some pretty fucking great days. They don’t happen often, but when they do… oh, man.

Once my fragment begins to sprout sentences and reaches the point where I can call it a scene I start outlining. I build a skeleton of a story, branching out from the scene, and then decide whether or not it’s worth putting meat on the bones.

The more I work the scene, the more the characters start to speak. I know I’m onto something when they start arguing with me.

I must admit to editing as I go, a habit I’m working hard to break. It slows me down and has me doubting my own ability, often on a sentence-to-sentence basis. Definitely need to cut that shit out if I ever want to get any significant piece of work done.

Let’s see, what else?

Adverbs, you say? Don’t use ‘em unless there’s no other way to word it– and there’s always another way to word it.

Passive voice? Yeah, I’m not fond of it any more than you are, but I don’t get compulsive about it. My rule is this– if it sounds good when I read it out loud, it works for me.

How often do I write? I write every day. Every single day, even if it’s just a couple of lines or some brainstorming.

There’s not much more to it than that.

Coming soon to a theatre near you…

Three friends of mine, each of them wise in the arts of the written word, will be sharing their writing processes with us next week…

K.D. McCrite writes touching and funny stories that portray ordinary people living lives from the depths of their extraordinary souls. She has three novels listed under Kathaleen Burr: Home is the Heart, 1991; Wintersong, 1991; Rainbow Dreams, 1992, (published by Avalon Books) and Ozarks Farmer, Country Preacher: the Life of Paul Wesley Buchanan, 2008 (High Hill Press). Her “Confessions of April Grace” Series (Thomas Nelson Publishing) is an hilarious series for mid-grade ‘tweens. The titles include In Front of God and Everybody, 2011; Cliques, Hicks, and Ugly Sticks, 2011; and Chocolate-Covered Baloney, 2012. Cozy mysteries include: The Deed in the Attic, 2011; The Unfinished Sonata, 2011; A Stony Point Christmas, 2012, The Ring in the Attic, fall 2013, Raven Threads, 2013, Unraveled Stalkings, 2014(published by Annie’s Publishing). She has recently signed a 5-book contract with Deer Hawk Publishing for her Eastgate Mysteries series. Her book, Desolate Heart, is an unusual modern day fairytale, written under the name Sidney Archer. A second Archer book, Redemption, is scheduled for publication next year, and she has signed a contract for a third under the Archer name, Whited Sepulchres. McCrite’s novel, In Front of God and Everybody, has been nominated for the Mark Twain Readers award for 2013-14. Her short stories have won numerous awards and have appeared The Storyteller, Woman’s World, and Kansas City Voices, she’s had several articles published in The Ozarks Mountaineer, Ozarks Reader, and Ozarks Magazine.

You can find KD’s blog (currently closed for renovation) at; http://www.kdmccrite.com/

Ruth Long is an enthusiastic reader, writer, movie-goer, and music lover. She writes flash fiction and short stories across many genres as well as urban fantasy, urban sci-fi, and noir novellas.

Ruth’s blog is here; http://www.bullishink.com

Mona Bliss writes fantasy, science fiction and urban fantasy as well as ranting about social and political matters on her blog. She has written a comic book and is currently working on an urban fantasy novel involving Werewolves in North Central Florida. Miss Bliss lives in Southern California with her delightful husband and works in the entertainment industry doing a variety of jobs that keep the rent paid and lights on.

Mona’s blog… http://www.theblissblog.lunanina.com/

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Posted on February 17, 2014, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Adverbs? what are they? I did know, someone told me once, but when I write, I write, and worry about that after. NaNo is good to stop you from editing as you go. Worked for me.

    I love your whole notes things, I should do that.

    Great post Jeff, thanks for letting us inside your writing mind!

    Like

  2. Great post Jeff! I have that same editing as I go problem. It’s a bad habit that is hard to break but I’m working on it.

    Like

  3. Love all the scraps of paper, must be like a jigsaw at times. I used to edit as I went along and wondered why I wasn’t getting anywhere. Like Miranda said, Nano cures that a treat. Great post Jeff and a wonderful insight into how you are successful in strong characterisation. x

    Like

  1. Pingback: My Writing Process | BULLISH INK

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