Monday, October 15, 2012

Writer's Panel! First Section!

I have picked my four of my favorite authors/writers. They are going to be talking about their writing process.  So stop by the next couple of weeks on Thursdays to see what they have to say!  Now on to the introductions!

Carrie Butler: Carrie daydreamed her way through college—until they thrust a marketing degree into her hands, slapped a summa cum laude seal on the corner, and booted her out into a less-than-stellar job market. Instead of panicking at the prospect of unemployment, she used her Midwestern logic to steer into the skid and point her life in the direction she really wanted to go: writing out those daydreams.


Komal Lewis: Komal Lewis is a full-time author who lives in Sydney, Australia with her husband, and one too many cats and dogs. She is overly enthusiastic about video games, comic books, Spiderman, Byronic heroes, baking, reptiles and pretty shoes.
Komal is currently working on her debut novel, WITH ME, a YA Contemporary Romance about a girl who will do anything to become popular, and the rocker boy-next-door.

Joe Lantz: Joe works as a substitute teacher for Ripley Central School in WNY while he works on his YA novel and waits for a permanent position as an English Language Arts teacher. He had the great fortune of being Michelle’s student teacher and the even greater fortune of developing an enduring friendship with her, which includes time spent writing in a local library.  He is an avid reader and writer. He also enjoys collecting and reading comic books and graphic novels. He can also be found on  blog – the one Michelle encouraged me to start – Avid Reading, Constant Writing.

Bonnie Rae: Bonnie spent her early childhood in the sunny state of California. At the time, she was an only child with a very large imagination. Thanks to her Grandmother, the love of reading books started at a very young age. Every walk to the grocery store meant an ice cream cone and a new Little Golden Book. Through books, Bonnie learned you could be transported into other worlds. The addiction was instant. At age eleven, her grandparents gave her E.B. White's Charlotte's Web for her birthday. Even though she was completely grossed out when it came to spiders (and still is), Charlotte's Web fascinated her. A spider that was able to weave words and befriend a pig? Bonnie then realized not only could books provide imaginary worlds, they confirmed anything was possible. She might have only been eleven, but she knew writing was what she wanted to do. She started her first set of novels at the age of sixteen and has been writing ever since. Bonnie currently lives in California with her wonderful husband and two very spoiled cats.

This week we are going to be talking about the Pre-writing process. You know that moment when the idea is rolling around and is dying to bust out of your thoughts.

How has a story idea come to you?

Carrie: I’ll use Strength, my debut novel, as an example. For years, I'd been toying with the idea of writing a story with a unique, supernatural race (or three). One night, for whatever reason, I couldn't stop thinking about the concept of balance—specifically, the balance of power. I started jotting down notes while listening to music, and "All I Know" (the 2005 Five for Fighting cover) came on. As soon as I heard the first few sentences, the romance element fell into place. :) It snowballed from there.

Komal: Lots of different ways. Movies, songs, dreams, other books, and sometimes from nowhere at all.

Joe: I think most of my story ideas come to me from the variety of experiences I’ve had reading, collecting comics, and occasionally from TV shows and movies. Does that mean I’m copying others? I don’t think so as I always try to find a new angle or approach to the idea that inspired my own idea. For example, reading about vampires has recently sparked a new YA story idea for vampires. While the main character is the blood sucking undead, he’s not the nicest of guys – he enjoys feasting on blood and pushing people’s buttons making no apologies for doing both. The inspirations for my idea: The Vampire Diaries TV show, The Twilight Saga novels, and a few other vampire-centric novels, shows, and movies. When a story idea comes to you, you have to be able to put your own spin on the idea.I will confess that a few story ideas have come to me in dreams, which is why I keep pen and paper near my bed.

Bonnie: I think the one that stands out the most was while I was attending a writing conference. All of a sudden in the middle of a really wonderful workshop this vision of two teenagers on swings, in a park, in the wee hours of the morning popped into my head. The park had an eerie setting and the boy and girl were so vivid to me, so alive, that I just started writing the scene down right then and there. Needless to say I missed the rest of the workshop because I was so caught up in the muse. After that my first book, Nether Bound, started to take shape.

Once you have an idea, how do you brainstorm?

Carrie: It’s chaotic. I cover my desk with papers. Fragmented thoughts, drawings, lines pointing every which way—it’s a wonder I ever manage to decipher them! LOL

Joe: Once a story idea takes root in my brain, I instantly brainstorm by writing down anything and everything that develops on a notepad, usually the legal pad style. There is no formality about the brainstorming – ideas get written down in no particular order, barely count as sentences, often are accompanied by a doodle or five, arrows are used to show connection, and so on. At present, I have a hefty stack of notepads filled with story idea brainstorms. Alas, so many ideas and not enough time in the day to work on them all.

Bonnie: If it is a scene that comes to me, I just write it out right then and there. Of course, that is provided I am in a place where I can do that. But I always carry a notebook with me wherever I go and my friends have gotten pretty used to me pulling it out and penning away.
For a whole story I pretty much brainstorm by outlining. I usually outline and write the first five chapters. I let myself just go with it and see where the story takes me in those first few chapters. The first five introduce me to my characters and gives me a chance to really get to know them and also lets me see exactly how the story develops and the direction I will go with it. . After the first five chapters are written is when I will actually finish outlining the rest of the story and do all of my character bios/summaries. 

Do you do a lot of pre-planning or do you dive right in and write?

Carrie: I used to dive right in, but I’m more organized these days. I bust out character profiles, spreadsheets, timelines, etc.

Komal: It depends on the kind of story I’m writing. If it’s something that requires world-building then I pre-plan, otherwise I just let the story take me wherever it’s headed.

Why do you think you do it that way or what does this say about you?

Carrie: It says I’m turning into a plotter! Or I’m losing my mind…

Komal: I think it says that I’m an unorganized control freak.

How do you develop your characters?

Carrie: I’m going to go all ‘creepy author’ on you for a second and say they develop themselves. Sure, I’ll start with a notion or two—shaped by a variety of influences—but after that? I’m lucky to keep up!

Komal: I think about them a lot! They have conversations in my head, and when I’m listening to music, I try and relate it to my characters.

Joe: I like this question because it relates to the other two pre-writing questions I selected. I think my characters are a mix of my own ideas and inspiration from other characters – again with my own approach/angle. Right now I’d say my biggest inspiration for the characters in the manuscript I’m currently enveloped in are the comic book characters I read. The characters are my own creation but fit into the archetypes of comic book characters.
As for development, I brainstorm just like I do for story ideas. However, I also allow the characters to grow, change, and adapt as the story develops, as writing takes me in new directions I hadn’t considered during brainstorming.

Bonnie: I do it this way, because it works for me. Trust me; I've tried plotting it all out, outlining, full character bios and chapter summaries before I write anything.  And what I learned is that stories change, so all that hard work that I put in during the beginning, most of it doesn't fit anymore. By writing out the first five chapters I get a great feel for all the characters and the story, as well as the solid direction everything will go in.

Anything you think another writer should know about for the pre-writing session? 

Carrie: Don’t censor yourself at this point. Let anything and everything come out on the paper. You can always weed the story later.

Wow! That's so much for me to think about and this is only the first post! Thanks for stopping by everyone. I hope this was as inspiring for you as it was for me!

Leave some love!


  1. Thanks for having me, Michelle! I really enjoyed reading everyone's answers. :)

  2. Carrie - thank you so much for doing this for me! Your answers are great!

  3. Thank you for having me, Michelle! This was a great idea!

  4. I loved doing this - it was awesome Michelle!! I loved seeing everyone's answers!

  5. Interesting answers and great tips! :)