Wicked Wednesday: SINC-Up, part two

Sisters in Crime is sponsoring a September SINC-Up, to spread the good word about good books and their authors. They suggested a few questions, so we selected one for last week and one for today. Part of the challenge is also to link to another author’s or authors’ blog, so each of us is doing that, too. The guidelines are here, if you’d like to take part. Just be sure to tweet your link using the hashtag #SinC-up or #SinCBlogHop and include @SINCnational.

The question for today:

What’s the best part of the writing process for you? What’s the most challenging?

Barb: Okay, I’ll go first. As I’ve said here before. I hate first drafts. Hate them. If I could figure out how to do the writing process without them, I would. They put me into a total vortex of self-doubt–every single time. “This is a short story idea. At best a novella. This will never be novel length.” “I know the beginning and the end, but I honestly don’t think you can get from here to there.” “This is boring, boring, boring. And stupid.” Etc. But give me something to revise, no matter how crude, and I am happy, happy happy. I can work all day. And short story or novel, I’ll happily work through a dozen or more drafts. I also love the “pre-writing phase” when all things are possible. So everything but the first draft.

For blogs, I want to recommend the Writers Who Kill blog. E.B. Davis has interviewed me twice, once for Clammed Up and once for Boiled Over. She asks such great questions. She always makes me think in new ways about my characters. The other posts and interviews are high quality, too.

Julie: Boy, this is tough for me. The entire process is a terrible joy. I do like the plotting/noodling stage. And I plot ahead of time, so it takes some time. But having just gone through the process (and am awaiting for notes from my editor), I would say I enjoy the first draft. I love the feeling when it all starts clicking, and the book surprises me. Or a character tells me a secret that helps shape the book.

My blog hop for this week is our New England chapter of SInC’s blog–Pen, Ink, and Crimes. There are lots of contributors to the blog, which makes it fun. And Hank Phillippi Ryan has been doing series of interviews that are just terrific.

Edith: I love “terrible joy” – Julie, that’s brilliant.

IMG_3520Sherry: Sometimes I have a hard time forcing myself to sit in the chair and type. I’m easily distracted. Lunch with friends? Sure. Laundry? Sure. Time to walk Lily? Sure. Dusting? No — I have to draw the line somewhere. I think part of the forcing myself to sit is what Barb experiences with the first draft — the editor in my head telling me it’s all terrible. Last week I started writing Murder As Is the third in the Sarah Winston Garage Sale Series. I typed a line and a half and my computer froze. When I rebooted it, all that was there was the title. I figured the line was so bad even my computer couldn’t stand it.

My blog hop is Carstairs Considers. Mark not only does book reviews but also TV shows and Hallmark ornaments. It’s fun to read and he is a thoughtful book reviewer.

Jessie: I love to tear into a second draft and start revising. I find it so satisfying to play with the raw material and to coax it into the thing I really want it to be. I wish I loved first drafts as much. I don’t think I hate them as much as Barb but it I do find them a bit of a slog. Planning scenes before I start to write helps to keep my internal editor at bay but sometimes he scrambles over all my carefully constructed barriers anyway.

My blog recommendation this week is Live to Write, Write to Live, featuring our own Julie Hennrikus. The posts are insightful and the writers are engaging.

Julie: Thanks Jessie!

Edith: For me the magical part is when characters do something I didn’t expect. I’m typing away on a first draft, or in revision, and bingo, a woman falls off her chair. I stare at her in my mind, on the page, and think, “Whoa, she just fell off her chair. Why’d she fall off her chair? Did she have a heart attack? Vertigo? Was she poisoned? Is she faking it? And I WROTE IT. It doesn’t always happen, but it’s so special when I’m just channeling my characters.

The most challenging for me is surprising the reader while still being fair to her. I want you to catch your breath at the end, but I can’t drop it on you all at once – when you go back, you have to be able to realize that the clues were there all along. This is a very tricky thing to pull off, and I’m still working on it.

For blogs: gee, agree about all of the ones already mentioned, of course. I’ll recommend Ramona DeFelice Long’s blog on editing. If you go back through her archives, there are fabulous instructive posts for writers.

Readers: add your response!

23 Thoughts

  1. Yes, that “terrible joy” is a wonderful phrase, Julie (and maybe a good book title?).

    I like first drafts, because I never know what’s going to happen (the oddest example was the Australian diamond miner who just walked in the back door in Through a Glass, Deadly–never saw him coming!). But I hate revising–I get bored. And then I can’t tell when (or why) I’ve repeated myself three times in different places. The best part is when you can’t wait to get back to your chair and your laptop and find out what comes next.

  2. I realized I only answered the what I didn’t like part of the question — I blame that on spending a weekend with college friends and delayed flights. I love the first draft too. The sitting somewhere like the Citizens Police Academy listening to a speaker and realizing I could use what they just talked about in my writing.

  3. Thanks for the nice compliment and plug, Wickeds!
    I am also not a fan of first drafts–one of the reasons I love sprinting. I only have to create new words for an hour. I do love revising, although sometimes it’s embarrassing. (Really? You used that cliche? For shame.)

  4. Um, sorry about that lunch distraction, Sherry 😉 Carstairs Considers! I’m a huge Mrs. Pollifax fan and enjoy that blog. And lovely to see Writers Who Kill mentioned, especially E. B. Davis. She’s an absolutely terrific interviewer.

    1. Agree, John – meditative, possessed, or in between. I type first drafts on the computer, but when I need to figure out a plot point, I retreat to my office rocker with notebook and pen in hand. Different thinking process.

  5. Interesting to read your thoughts on your writing process and the good and the bad along the way. Don’t really have much to add to that.

    However, a huge thanks to Sherry and Shari for plugging and liking my blog. And Shari, I do have a Mrs. Pollifax book review coming up on Friday.

  6. I like when writing seems to be automatic and almost mystical and see if someone else were pushing the pencil or plunking the keys.

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