Sunday, June 24, 2012
How Jordan Bollinger's characters Run the Show
Where do you write? Describe your writing space. Anything that helps in the background?When I lived in Connecticut, I wrote at a computer desk in the dining room with the Hartford Oldies station on. Then I got a laptop, and could write wherever I wanted to - living room, patio-anywhere. Now I'm writing in the living room for the most part. I'm still pretty mobile, but with the bright Arizona sun and temperatures that have already been in the triple digits, the living room is the place for me. And, yes - there's usually caffeine involved as well as pet ruckus going on. I also need television on in the background, but sometimes it's turned down low so I can hear a book.
Do you have a schedule (daily or book-long) for writing or do you just go with the flow?
I actually blogged about this a few weeks ago. Our muses are fickle things, that appear on their own schedule; so I guess I 'go with the flow'.
What is your writing routine once you start a book?
I spend a lot of time thinking about things--just before I fall asleep and lying in bed when I first wake up. I also spend time sitting at the deep end of the pool, staring into the water and contemplating things. So, my routine is to plan out plotlines or dialogue and then write them down after email.
Where do you start when writing? Research, plotting, outline, or...?
Characters-without a doubt, because they're going to provide a story.
How about the people and/or animals you share space with. Do they know not to bother you when you are writing, or are there constant interruptions?
I live alone. Well, I live with two wire haired fox terriers and a chiwinnie. And, no--they don't know they should leave me alone. Luckily, they're pretty much slugs-unless I make the mistake of saying something like 'car', 'leash' or 'outside'. My gentleman friend might pout if I tell him I have to work, but I try and get him to research things - mainly weapons and/or history. Sometimes, he's even produced something informative and useful.
What do family members think of your writing? Do you ever ask him/her/them for advice? Editing? My family (which is my mom and her 'live-in' (and she turned eighty-four last week--so see, we're never too old for romance) are very supportive. What surprised, and greatly disappointed me, was how my really close, friends (of thirty years or more) kind of ignored it. OR, which was even worse, they gave me a kind of 'that's nice, honey' look.
What kind of research do you do?
Oh, all kinds. When I first got the computer and started taking classes - back in the olden days, when a 1GB hard-drive would last you forever - they were a lot less people on the internet; and you could get to some surprising places (CIA, FBI, and MI-5 & MI-6--but just for job applications, no sensitive stuff!) Now, technology has left me in the dust, and I'm lucky if I can find my own Facebook page. Still, googling is a lot easier than searching library shelves. I have started an antebellum romance, and I've researched Creole style houses to the point of making precise sketches of the front exterior and floor plans. I have, however, promised myself I will not do sketches of the furniture arrangements. Although, I have assigned paper dolls to characters and am contemplating their wardrobes.
Are you a member of any author group and how does that help your writing?
I have been in some author groups, and I can't deny I learned at lot from the other members. I just am finding time to participate difficult now.
What do you think of critique groups in general?
They can be very helpful. Often, someone will have a way of explaining something that makes it just 'click' for you. And you can learn more from reviewing they you might expect. Also, sometimes you see things that are wrong in other writing, and forced to acknowledge that you are guilty of that too. That said, they can also be a hindrance. You can't please everyone and having a dozen people evaluate your first chapter can get you in this endless loop of revising Chapter One and never make it to Chapter Two.
Which comes first, the story, the characters or the setting?
Characters! Characters! Characters! They will tell their own story, and the settings will come with the story.
What is the hardest/easiest part of writing for you?
I find writing dialogue pretty easy. Then, because I find settings often not important, sometimes hitting that happy balance of enough setting - without getting insane about it more difficult.
Are you in control of your characters or do they control you?
First time around, the characters. I let them do whatever they want. The thing is, if I've allowed them to 'form' correctly, they'll only do things that are 'right' for them.
Have you experienced writer's block? If so, how did you work through it?
Absolutely, but luckily not very often. The best way I've found to get through it is to ask someone to request a bit of research for them, or write an article for a newsletter or something--anything! Once you have something else you need to finish before you can return to your writing, you can't wait to get back to it.
What do you enjoy most about writing?
I would have to say 'living' in my own little fantasy world(s). It's good to be crazy!
What is the single most important part of writing to you?
Crafting a well-written, satisfying story - for me.
Any words of encouragement for unpublished writers.
To paraphrase Dora from 'Finding Nemo', "just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming". File the rejection letters or emails (And really, isn't it better to often get almost instant disappointment because of the internet?), have yourself a good old-fashioned cry (or whatever) and send out another query.