Tuesday, April 6, 2010

From Formspring: How organized is your approach towards writing? Do you use outlines or anything like that?

I write out notes for a book, but nothing too formal, like an outline. I do this a little more with Max's books than the Dragon's Blood Chronicles, since mysteries are a little more challenging to write (for me, at least) and it's difficult to keep track of when information is revealed.

I don't make myself a slave to an idea, though. Many of the books I've written veered so far from the outline that they became unrecognizable. For example, Max's books was originally going to be about a preacher who murdered a young girl who rebuked his sexual advances. The skinheads (and vampires) were going to be a subplot, but I liked the idea of vampire Neo-Nazi's as antagonists so much that I changed the whole book.

I do often make lists of character names and traits so I don't forget things, or contradict myself...especially with background characters. For example, I don't have to remind myself what color Meg's eyes are (green) because she's a main character and I talk about her a lot. But Max's girlfriend Sadie's teenage sister Porche is used so infrequently that I have to have notes just to remember how old she is and what she looks like, otherwise she'll wind up taller than Sadie with blue eyes in one book, then shorter than Sadie with brown eyes in the next. It's also handy to keep track of other minor character traits, less they be forgotten, like how old Meg was when her father died, what tattoo Yvonne has in the small of her back, and so on.

I do almost all of my writing on a computer, so I do my notes there, too. I have a folder on a jump-drive (backed up to another jump drive, my hard drive, and an online Norton 360 backup drive) called Writing. In the Writing folder, I have a different folder for each of my story branches: right now, that includes the Chronicles, Max's series, and a third series I'm in the process of planning right now. A couple of other folders are there as well, including one full of story fragments and idea, and another with Shadowrun stuff--that's the role playing game I play with this group of registered sex offenders I met online. Any notes I keep on a story or character I place in the same folder, so I know right where to find it.