Wednesday, May 09, 2012


Today's questions come from Ms. Jurkowski's third class. These are the last two left as next week is a guest author posting and then school will be out shortly. I hope to gather some questions over the summer to start back in September after Labor Day for the WWYWWQ blogs again.

D.G. asks: How do you come up with so many books?

Answer: (I think I've addressed this before) The ideas are all around us. For me, it was winning second place on my first ever contest submitted piece of writing. That one story spurned on the idea of a state series, which obviously will be a 50-book series. All my short stories have come about from contests and have placed first, second, third, runner up or have been selected for an anthology. Finally Home came about from a vision and then after writing the original story, I did a complete rewrite. I'm in the process of writing a novel that was inspired by several pictures from an interactive creative writing prompt site; the trick will be tying all the pictures that spoke to me originally together in one story. The story won't be illustrated but I think I can describe the pictures well enough when they appear in the story. It's an illusion basically.

The object is to write something everyday and before you know it you too will have several or many books. Thanks for the question, D.G. and keep on writing.

The second question comes from D.J. D.J. asks: How do you plan your writing?

Answer: This goes to outlining or not outlining in my case. Writers are either planners or pantsers. By this, you can take an idea and storyboard or outline until you think you can write it or you can take the idea and just write what comes to mind. Having written several stories by the seat of my pants, the problem you tend to come up against is not developing the story or knowing your characters well enough to really write their story. On the other side of the coin, there are definite times you have to be a pantser such as when writing short stories for contests or anthologies. Most of these type of stories aren't afforded time to get to know your characters or the plot of the story. Since all of my short stories were written for contests, except the one that was selected to appear in an anthology, I basically was on the contest's deadlines and themes.

The story I'm working on now, Imogene: Innocence Lost, I've done a tentative outline from the pictures to help guide me from the pictures through the story. I also sent the sequence of events (which is what your outline basically is) to my editor so she knows how the story is supposed to progress.

For my state stories, I don't really outline but I don't really write them by the seat of my pants per se. The process for these stories is a little different. The whole idea behind the stories is to present facts in the form of clues for my readers and the characters to guess the state. So, the process goes like this: 1) Research - this is completed for all the state stories; 2) Clue picking - since I have my research completed, I have to go through all the factoids or trivia information and decide which 25 will be the most fun to read about and to write around; 3) Once clues are placed, I send to my editor and illustrator for a title to the story. Since the title is also a clue to the state, I tend to write the story around the clues and the title. This also gives my illustrator a heads up of what I want on the cover and helps her start working on the interior illustrations; 4) Place clues in an order that allows a bit of a challenge to the readers but aren't too difficult for those who are familiar with the state. Since the characters playing the game in the stories hardly go back to previous clues and all their "interactions" are based on the current given clue from the game, I don't want the clues to come across as too difficult or too easy right up front. I do try to progress from more difficult clues down to easy clues, so that the readers have a chance of guessing the state early on, somewhere in the middle or even as late as the last clue. The 25th clue will be something the state is known for, usually something everyone would think of that state immediately. The 26th clue is the state flower and geographic center of the state. The 27th clue is the state bird and state capital. 5) Write story - this can be the tricky part sometimes but for the most part, I just start off with some dialogue, which places my characters either at school, the park, the library, at home, or somewhere in their town, which is basically an Anywhere, USA. This is my jumping off point and once I've decided who is playing the game, sometimes I'll have them make small wagers to see who can guess the state first and sometimes they will just play the game. They discuss each clue as it is presented and move on. 6) Edit/revise - once the story is written, I go through it the first time to make sure it makes sense and then I send to my editor for her feedback so I can then revise and send back to her for all the final edits. 7) Publish story - once I've finished all my edits, I send the completed story to my illustrator who then places all the illustrations in the proper place and then she formats the book so that it is in the correct format for the printing process. Once I have those files back, I upload them on and do my interior review and then wait to see if the book meets their specifications and then order a proof copy. Sometimes, if there are noticeable problems on the interior review, I let my illustrator know so she can fix them before I get to order the proof copy. Once I have the proof copy in hand and I've gone through it to make sure everything is as it is supposed to be, I then release the book so that it is available everywhere.

So, D.J., as you can see there are several ways to "plan" your writing, and the only advice I can give you is that you need to use the method that works for the story at hand as each story will be different for you. Some will require that you outline or write the key plot elements out, timelines, character maps, et cetera while others will be written to someone else's specifications and may not allow you the time to outline so you would basically have to write by the seat of your pants. Others still will mean you have to research first before taking a direction for the story to go. Keep writing and try different methods for different types of stories.

I would like to thank Mr. Hughes' sixth grade class and Ms. Jurkowski's third grade class for participating in my Wednesdays Weekly Young Writers Writing Questions. You all have provided some interesting questions along the way. Good luck in all your writing projects. Mrs. E :)

1 comment:

Susanne Drazic said...

Great questions and answers.