Writing Process Blog Tour

Today, I’m participating in the “My Writing Process” blog tour. This tour is all about upcoming work and why the writer is working on it. You can thank Caren Gussoff – an over-intellectual, hyper-ambitious dilettante Didikai living in Seattle, WA who writes speculative and literary fiction — for inviting me to be a part of this.

“So, what’s your next book?” I hear you cry. “Hive & Heist came out, like, a whole week ago!”

1) What am I working on?

I like to call it “a love letter to Seattle in the style of Jane Austen and Douglas Adams.” (This means it’ll be as wildly geeky as anything else I’ve ever written.)

Cracked! A Magic iPhone Novel (title possibly to change, but I love it, so maybe not) is a slice of time and culture for middle-class, single geeks in Seattle 2013. Our three main characters are storygamers.

  • One is pushing forty, works for Starbucks, and has a Brazilian-emigrant mother who wants her to get married soonest. (This character has the magic iPhone.)
  • One is fresh out of college, a cocaine addict, and a freelance photographer.
  • The third is a six thousand year old elf, but most of the time that’s not very relevant to his life. (He came to Seattle purely for the Seattle Freeze, so that he could hang out with people but not make any close friendships.)

The whole thing is a bit bizarre, very coffee-centric, and really about the nature of friendship. It’s also super-experimental, being entirely written in third person omniscient (a style out of fashion for approximately a century now).

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I joke that I write “wildly unpopular fiction for geeks” because I take a lot of fun, geeky elements and combine them in ways the mainstream audience doesn’t expect. Really, though, I just write for me.

I think my Hive Queen Saga is different from the YA genre because there’s no romance; and different from other space opera because it’s got hive-based social structures (and druids in space).

I think Cracked! is different from other modern literary fiction because of the ridiculousness of the magic iPhone, and also because of my willingness to commit to “It’s set in 2013.” Writers get cautioned to be a bit vague about timelines or else their work will be dated, but I think of Cracked! as a slice in time. It’s supposed to be dated because it’s a near-perfect facsimile of Seattle 2013 (aside from the magic and the elf).

3) Why do I write what I do?
I write what I want to read. And I have to believe there are people out there who agree with me and are thrilled to find my work.

4) How does your writing process work?
With careful planning. I learned in 2012 that I’m much more productive when I have a super-detailed outline. (You’ll notice I’ve released two books and a novella since that realization. A pretty cracking pace!)

My process is: Make a 60 page outline (give or take). It’ll cover everything from scene-by-scene actions to character growth arcs for every named character to descriptions of settings (including fashion, scents, related politics).

Then I sit in a coffee shop and bang out the first draft. Sometimes in chronological order, sometimes by POV character.

After this, I wait six weeks while working on something else. When I come back to the first draft, I can read it sorta-fresh and do a sanity-check edit. Then I pass it on to alpha readers, make their mass-requested changes, and send it off to the professional editor of my choice for the project. (Note: My S.O. is the best alpha reader. I’ve discovered that his comments are almost always what the pro editor notices if I don’t fix it earlier.)

I hope you enjoyed this peek into my process and my next book.
And now I’m supposed to tag three other awesome writers so you can read about what they’re working on. However, the writing community can be exceptionally small. Every person I emailed about this had already done it! (Or was too busy to make time to answer four measly questions.)

So, instead I’m going to ask you to fill in a blank:
I wish more stories had heroes/heroines who….
(Maybe I’ll even write one for you.)

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About
Janine A. Southard is a Writer & Editor for narrative projects. She's a proven talent when it comes to mimicking voices and crafting content for videogames, articles, & fiction.