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IWSG: January 2019

It’s time again for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Posts go up the first Wednesday of each month. Read more posts and/or join in here.

Question of the Month: What are your favorite and least favorite questions people ask you about your writing?

I love being asked about my writing, and I can’t think of any questions that annoy me or that I don’t like to answer. If anything, I wish more people would ask me about my work… Maybe I just like to talk about myself!

I suppose there are offensive questions, but that’s usually based on how the question is asked. I get accusatory-sounding questions about why I make characters gay, for example. “Why did you have to make them gay?” Look, I know that’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but sometimes as I’m writing a character, I come to understand things about him or her. I don’t plan it; my characters grow organically as I write. A lot of mine happen to be gay.

When I first started writing The Fall and Rise of Peter Stoller, I had planned for Peter to be a womanizer. Alas, he had different ideas, and it was Jules who stepped up to chase the girls. (I still have ideas forming in the back of my mind for a book about Jules.) When I was writing Faebourne, I had planned for George and Edward to get together, but… If you read the book, you see how that went.

That’s another thing I do get tired of hearing: “Oh, but you should be in charge of your characters and make them do what you say!” I find that creates stilted characters that are bound by plot. When reading, I can always tell when a writer was determined to stick to their outline because the characters don’t seem to breathe or act of their own accord. They do things that seem out of character or don’t make sense, and it’s usually because the author forced them.

It takes me a long time to write a draft because I’m a bit like Michelangelo, chipping away at the stone block and seeing the story take shape. I have a general sense of the story and what’s going to happen, but my outlines are very loose and free flowing. After that arduous draft, however, the refinement takes far less time. This is why it takes me about a year to write and publish a book: ~9 months of drafting and ~3 months of rewriting and editing.

Still, as long as people are respectful, I don’t mind answering whatever questions they may have.

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M

Writer/Screenwriter

Comments (6) for post “IWSG: January 2019”

  • Characters really do end up having minds of their own, don’t they? It’s something I don’t think a lot of people really understand unless they’ve tried writing a story themselves.

  • Yes indeed! Characters do make their quirks and wishes known. In Book Two of a series, an new character introduced himself, and he’s the hero of Book Three. Sometimes I think I’m just the channeling stories and polishing them, not creating them. I wish you a happy, healthy, productive 2019.

  • I get worried if my characters aren’t taking over or at least making me have to listen to them! But I’m not one that likes to talk about myself so writing questions make me nervous. Happy new year!

  • Hurray for characters that lead us where they need to go. My characters are apt to be old, grouchy……….and almost always alone. Yet just when I think I can relate to them, they surprise me by taking off in a new direction. That’s what keeps me coming back the next day.

  • I love when characters have their own minds and surprise you as a writer. I’m happy to talk about anything to do with my books and writing too, but so few people ask. I do wonder how much my husband tunes out when I go on about my stories and writing!

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Comments (6)