I am taking part in The Writing Process Blog Tour, which is a fun way to introduce you to writers from far afield. Each author will offer brief insights into their writing processes and, in turn, they will introduce you to three more authors. I was invited to participate by Richard Ellis Preston Jr, steampunk author of the Romulus Buckle adventures. (In an earlier post, I persuaded Richard that my home city of Manchester is the steampunk capital of the world).
Thanks for the invite!
What am I working on?
I’m writing near-future fiction at the moment, elaborating on some of the themes I considered in my novel A Calculated Life. I’m imagining how human relationships might change over the coming decades and beyond. I’ll take account of foreseeable breakthroughs in genetics research, and societal changes that are already emerging. Where will it all lead?
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
A Calculated Life is set late in the 21st Century in a booming economy where people lead compliant and segregated lives. Life appears good for some but not for others. So it’s a dystopian novel but it’s different to others in the sub-genre. Many fictional dystopian worlds are created by totalitarian regimes or they present a chaotic world in the aftermath of an apocalypse. But my dystopia is set in a corporate world and it has emerged through the unrelenting drive for profit and efficiency. And I suppose it’s different to some dystopias because the protagonist is a strong female, named Jayna. She makes things happen; she works things out for herself!
Why do I write what I do?
I write as an explorer. I want to visit a future that only our descendants will see and experience. When I read the news I wonder where social changes, environmental changes and scientific advancements will take us as a human race. How will we interact with one another in the future and will our humanity change? For me, writing is about asking questions and imagining how changes that are occurring today might play out in the long term.
How does my writing process work?
Before I started writing A Calculated Life I wrote a ‘briefing paper’ to establish the backdrop to the novel. I tried to pin down how Jayna’s world would be different to mine, today, in terms of society, technology, politics, environment. This helped to keep the story on track and avoided creeping inconsistencies.
I wrote the first paragraph without having the story mapped out. I certainly didn’t outline a plot though I had vague ideas about the final outcome. However, from the outset I knew that the novel’s success would depend on portraying a convincing transition in my main character’s world view – from being an accepting almost innocent person to someone who questions everything around her. For that reason, I wrote with a third-person-limited point of view. The reader only sees the world through Jayna’s eyes.
With A Calculated Life I edited as I went along so it was a slow process reaching the end of the first draft. In subsequent drafts I added some scenes, fine-tuned the characters and their interactions, and changed the opening scene twice! With my current writing project, I’m bashing it out without punctuation, even without character names on occasion. I’ve started with the main scenario and over-arching themes, and then focused on the characters’ relationships.
I don’t use index cards. I prefer big sheets of paper, plot bubbles, mind-maps and lots of overlapping arrows. And I need a tidy desk even if I’m surrounded by chaos.
I’ve invited three lovely American authors to join the tour and they will post their answers to these writing-process questions next week. Please meet:
Laurel Saville is an award-winning author of numerous books, articles, essays, and short fiction. Her work has appeared in the LA Times Magazine, The Bark, NYTimes.com, The Bennington Review, Ellipses, House Beautiful, POL/Oxygen, Room, Seven Days, and other publications. She holds an MFA from The Bennington Writer’s Seminars and lives and writes near Seattle. She is also a corporate communications consultant, and has taught at the College of St. Rose and Western Connecticut State University.
Her memoir of her mother’s colorful life in the midst of LA’s arts and hippie heyday and her tragic decline to a murdered street person, Unraveling Anne, won the memoir category of the Indie Book Awards and was a runner-up to the Grand Prize winner at the Hollywood Book Festival. Laurel’s website is here.
Charles B. (“Chuck”) Rosenberg has been the credited legal script consultant to three prime time television shows: L.A. Law, The Practice and Boston Legal, as well as the TV show The Paper Chase (Showtime). During the O.J. Simpson criminal trial, he was one of two on-air legal analysts for E! Entertainment Television’s live coverage of the trial. He also provided commentary for E!’s coverage of the Simpson civil trial. In addition to Death on a High Floor: a Legal Thriller, he is the author of the book The Trial of O.J. Simpson: How to Watch the Trial and Understand What’s Really Going On (Publishing Partners 1994) and is a contributing author to the book Lawyers in Your Living Room! Law on Television (ABA Publishing 2009). Chuck and his wife live in Los Angeles, where he is at work on a second novel. Visit Chuck’s website and blog here.
Elisa Lorello was born and raised on Long Island, the youngest of seven children. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth and launched a career teaching rhetoric and composition. She has been teaching first-year writing to university students since 2000, but went on sabbatical in fall 2012. Elisa spent six years in North Carolina, where she split her time between teaching and writing, and returned to the northeast in October 2012.
Elisa is the author of the Kindle best-selling novels Faking It and Ordinary World, Why I Love Singlehood (co-authored with Sarah Girrell), and Adulation.
Visit Elisa’s blog: I’ll Have What She’s Having