Today I'm pleased to be part of the Sophie Davis Talented blog tour set up by Reading Addiction Blog Tours.
I am going to be reviewing her novel, offering a copy of this book, and hosting a guest post written by Sophie Davis. Check out this link to win a copy of the book and this link to read my review of Sophie's novel Talented.
Before we get into the guest post, here's a little more information on the author:
Sophie moved to Washington, D.C. after graduating from Penn State University to pursue a career in the Sciences. After deciding to actually write down one of the stories she makes up in her head, Sophie began the long journey towards her first full-length novel, Talented. Caged is her second novel, and the second in the Talented Saga. When Sophie isn't hunched over her computer, she can be found shopping in Georgetown, running in Rock Creek Park, or at the local dive bars in her Columbia Heights Neighborhood. Sophie can be reached at her website or her twitter account. You can buy her book at Barnes and Noble, through Amazon, through Sony, and Smashwords.
And now here's Sophie's guest post:
My Writing Process
I have been writing short stories and poems for as long as I can remember, so when I decided to write my first full-length novel, I thought it would be easy. One night I sat at my computer with only a vague story idea in mind and started typing. I wrote forty pages, but then had no idea where to go from there. I didn’t map out the characters or make an outline, so I didn’t even know what my endgame was. I picked up the story several times after that, but never wrote another word, because I had no idea where the story was going. After doing this for a couple of months, I decided that I needed a better method.
I am a long-distance runner, and typically pass the time making up stories in my head. I’d been developing the story that eventually became Talented for years while I ran, so instead of trying to make up something new, I decided to put that story to paper. Why I didn’t do this the first time around, I’ll never know. This time, I outlined the entire concept for one of my friends, and she found more holes in the story than I care to recount. I took some time and thought about all her questions, making notes on sticky notes while at work or on the metro. I sat down one night and started writing up bios for my main characters, which went a long way towards filling in my story gaps. I made a loose outline, and began my second attempt at a novel.
The writing went much smoother the second time, since I had a very concrete idea in mind and knew my characters. But I soon realized that while I knew exactly what I wanted my main characters to look like and their personalities, my minor characters were very underdeveloped. I decided to make a “look-book”. I headed to CVS and bought stacks of magazines, and started my greatest arts and crafts project to-date. I found pictures of people that I imagined looked like my characters, piecing together hair from one with eye color of another. An entire weekend later, I had a three ring binder full of notes and magazines clippings that I frequently refer to. From there, I was able to keep all my characters straight and better envision the lesser ones as I continued to write.
The next hurdle I encountered was where to start my story. I knew that the entire concept would span more than one book, but I found myself writing a lot of backstory in the first novel. About three-quarters of the way through, I realized that all the backstory might actually lend itself to another novel. So I put the story that I was writing on hold, and began my third attempt at writing a novel. Approximately seven months later, I had a 100k word manuscript that became Talented, my first full-length finished novel. Several months after that, I finished the book that I’d set aside, and it became the sequel to Talented.
Since I started my process while running, I typically go for a run when I get blocked on a scene. I usually mull it over for a couple of days, revising it in my head several times before it ever makes it to the paper. If a scene isn’t working for some reason, I often try to rework it in my mind before tackling the story edits on the computer.
After copious amounts of self-edits, I hand my manuscripts over to two of my trusted, yet brutally honest, friends. One of the beta readers is extremely inquisitive and is great for picking up on any and all gaps or inconsistencies in the story. The other is a therapist, and is therefore wonderful at reminding me that my characters need emotions. I take a couple of weeks to incorporate their ideas/questions/suggestions into the story. Next, I do one another read-through and round of edits on my own. Then, I give the newly revised manuscript to my technical editor. After all of the I’s are dotted and T’s are crossed, I do my last read-through to make sure that I didn’t miss anything. The final step before submitting the book for sale is giving it to third person who has not read it before, and he makes any last-minute edits.
The process is by no means perfect, and is still a work-in-progress, but seems to work well for me. I imagine that every new author goes through a lot of trial and error before nailing down a process that works for them. And I am sure that I will tweak my process for my next series. While there has been quite a learning curve, it has been a lot of fun (and only a little frustrating) to try out different things to see what works best for me.
Thanks for sharing more about your writing process, Sophie. I hope you readers enjoyed this as much as I did.