Blog Hop: My Writing Process
My critique partner, Alli Sinclair, invited me to take part in the Blog Hop on My Writing Process, and I agreed, while wondering what my writing process is. It has changed from manuscript to manuscript and I can honestly say I’m still discovering my writing process.
So let’s dive in:
What am I working on?
My current work in progress is a contemporary twisted fairy tale After Ever After where we find out what happened to Cinderella after the fairy tale wedding.
Here’s a short teaser:
What’s a girl to do when she marries Prince Charming only to find out he’d rather sleep with the coachman?
How does my work differ from others in the genre?
I wonder if the canon of reimagined fairytales is large enough to be considered a genre. Several authors are using well-known fairytales as the base of their stories but the majority of these are historical or fantasy e.g Gregory Maguire, Kate Forsyth, Carolyn Turgeon.
After Ever After is set firmly in the contemporary world: a world of reality and talk show TV, a world with an insatiable media, a world gripped in an obsession with celebrities, a world polarised on the issue of same sex marriage.This is a world that most readers will find familiar, but it also contains well-loved fairy tale elements, such as Cindy’s fairy godmother (with a modern twist of being addicted to snorting fairy dust)
Why do I write what I do?
It’s not usually a conscious decision. In the case of After Ever After, Cindy chose me to tell her story.
But in general I write stories about contemporary women and their journeys of self-discovery. There always has to be humour and often there will be sub-plot involving a gay theme ( a hangover from my twenties when I was the ‘closet hetrosexual’ in a gay sharehouse in the inner city of Sydney). Romance is not the be-all and end-all in my stories but is generally an element. Self-discovery and self-fulfillment are more important.
How does your writing process work?
I’m still working out my writing process as I have approached various stories differently depending on whether I’ve started with a kernel of an idea, a feeling I wanted to capture or a full-blown concept.
I love the rush of a fast draft, discovering the characters and story as I go, but I’m realising how much restructuring and rewriting is involved in this method.
So today, I will detail how I wrote After Ever After.
Several years ago, a writing association was formed in the region combining representatives of local writers groups. To kick off its existence, the Mid North Coast Writers Association held a short story competition. A friend was the Receiving Officer for the competition and encouraged me to enter. I replied, “I haven’t written a short story in nine years. All my ideas are big. I don’t know how to write a beginning, a middle and an end in 2000 words.”
Something clicked in the back of my mind and I thought, “I wonder what happened to Cinderella after the happily ever after.” The story just poured out – Beyond Happily Ever After – and I won second prize in the competition.
I extended the story to 3000 words for the Women’s Weekly short story competition, adding in a shoe fetish for Cindy and though not successful in the competition, the extended version was published in Wet Ink magazine.
I had so much fun with the characters and I wanted to know what happened next, I kept writing, participating in Nanowrimo. For most of the story, I was pantsing, allowing the characters to direct the storyline.
I wasn’t satisfied with the original ending — it was a compromise between the characters to keep their real lives concealed behind palace doors, but at the first draft stage I could see no way that everyone could have a happy ending. I put the manuscript away and worked on other stories.
And then there was a political scandal — a NSW minister was photographed emerging from a gay sex club and the double life that he’d managed to conceal for over twenty years was exposed.
I knew I needed a public ‘outing’ for my Prince Charming and Cinderella to get their happy endings. But it meant that the last third of my manuscript had to be rewritten. I started by writing the ending I wanted and then filling in scenes in the last third. Scenes came out of order and it took a couple more 50ks in 30days events to get most of the story down.
My rewrite was a lot slower and more painstaking than the first draft. I would often outline a scene before I started so I had the beginning and end points, to stop veering off the track.
Sometimes to get into a character’s head, I would write the scene in first person. This was effective in banishing the formal speech that seemed to pop out of my royals’ mouths. I would then rewrite in third person.
I also procrastinated a hell of a lot. (Procrastination and fighting the self-doubt demons is a huge part of my writing process).
But finally, I’ve reached the end of the major rewrite, and I’m about to send the final ten chapters to my critique partners.
Occasionally when the self-doubt demons have got me down, I go back to my hard copy first draft. The one that is littered with highlighter (a la Margie Lawson) and red scribble everywhere. It reminds me how far I’ve come, and how I can turn first draft crap into gold. And then I continue.
Hmm… perhaps my next story should be about Rumpelstiltskin.
Well, I lassoed two writer friends to continue the Writing Process Blog Hop next Monday. Can’t wait to read about their processes.
Kate Wigseller writes fiction with quirk, grit and humour. A fan of spoken word and beat poetry, she constantly reminds herself that should this novel writing caper fall through, there’s always work doing voiceovers. Although she is an aspiring film and tv writer, most of her works in progress are books and she is currently gearing up to publish her first novel later this year. You can contact her and catch her blogging at http://katewigseller.blogspot.com.au
Sammy Knights is an aspiring romance author who spends her days dreaming of her own little world and nights attempting to recreate that world for others to enjoy. She is also a member of two esteemed organisations in the MRWG and RWA. http://www.bcdmiscellany.blogspot.com.au/