Monday, April 28, 2014

"My Writing Process" Blog Tour

I was tagged by Caitlin Sinead to take part in the "My Writing Process" Blog Tour. Be sure to check out Caitlin's post too and follow her on Twitter!

image by followtheseinstructions on flickr
What am I working on?

I'm polishing my YA contemporary fantasy MARK OF THE SIFTER.
Ingredients: a guy from another plane, dream visits, super powers, fear of insanity, torture, impossible choices. And, of course, love.
For more details, see Projects, then scroll down. 

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I like speculative YA, and that's what I usually write—not sure if it differs that much, but I tend to get compliments on the relationships in my stories. How the characters interact and their dialogues are important to me. And while I don't create issue books, I incorporate contemporary topics, like in ROGUE HEALER (see Projects), which combines depression and aliens.

Why do I write what I do?

I write the kinds of books I love to read. Writing provides a wonderful escape from reality, and I love all my characters, even the antagonists. It's a great opportunity to explore issues that scare me—whether it's mental illness or the loss of a loved one—through the relative safety of a book I'm (more or less) in control of.

How does my writing process work?

My writing process is a work in progress. I'm learning-by-doing. I pantsed my first novel, and it worked well. The second and third...let's just say the road was bumpy. Which means I'm incredibly grateful for my hard-working CPs.

Since I ended up cutting and rewriting 35,000 words from my current WIP (yes, I'm still bleeding), I'm trying to bring more structure into the beginning of my process, using a combination of Dan Wells' Seven-Point-Plot Structure  and the Save the Cat beat sheet.

Here are my basic steps:

  • Get THE IDEA and let it stew until characters start talking to me and dialogues form in my mind.
  • Create a beat sheet, brainstorm world-building and characters.
  • Write the entire first draft, leaving * and comments anywhere details are missing. It usually looks like *ADD DESCRIPTION or *SETTING or *NAME or *AWKWARD.
  • If I notice something isn't working, I may go back to the beginning and make major changes before completing the first draft.
  • Go back and search for the * and fix them.
  • Let it sit (probably not long enough).
  • Make several passes for plot, timing, setting, language. Make sure chapter breaks make sense (I hate this part). Keep the beat sheet updated.
  • Send to CPs.
  • Revise.
  • Repeat the previous two steps until I'm happy.

Oh, and to add a bit of spice, I throw in the obligatory this-will-never-work-I-should-just-throw-it-away agony. At least twice.

Revisions are usually directly on screen, although I also read on my Kindle or make hard copies. The larger the expected revision, the more I like to work with paper. I also do at least one complete read-through out loud.

These fabulous ladies are up next on the tour!

Deana Barnhart is a thirty-something writer and mom of two. She writes YA fiction and is repped by Sarah LaPolla of the Bradford Literary Agency. She loves, in no particular order: watching her kids sleep, reading anything that will take her out of real life for a bit, spending time with her family and sharing her writing journey with fabulous people like you!

Follow Deana on Twitter: @DeanaBarnhart

An alumna of The City College of New York and the New School's creative writing programs, Jenn Baker is working on a linked story collection about an interracial family as well as YA novels with diverse characters. She's been a writer-in-residence at Ragdale, Jentel Arts, and Brush Creek Foundation for the Arts, and her writing has appeared in Poets & Writers magazine, Eclectic Flash, Boston Literary Magazine, and e-zines Around and 

Follow Jenn on Twitter: @jbakernyc 

Ifeoma Dennis lives on a somewhat-tedious-to-climb hill in the caribbean island of St. Vincent, but it pays off with a good view of the ocean and the boats. She is a medical student by day (and even at night), and a writer at all the odd scraps of time she gets. She loves fantastical worlds of magic and beautiful creatures, so little wonder that's what she writes!

Follow Ifeoma on Twitter: @IfeomaDennis


  1. I'm always intrigued to hear of other writers processes. Funny how it varies and your speculative sounds really interesting. Everything gets done in time. No worries. :-)

    1. Thanks, Jenn. Yes, I tell myself to give it time, but I can be very impatient with myself. :)

    2. Oh, I'm the same way. Seven years in on a collection and it's not done! It's easier for me to be patient with others than myself. Ahhh, the writing life.

  2. I love your process! It sounds a lot like mine:) I don't know what I would do without Save the Cat beat sheets!

    1. If my process sounds like yours, poor you! Haha. I guess it could be worse. ;) I'm hoping the beat sheets will help keep me in line in the future.

  3. I always go back before finishing a draft too argh! There's always something wrong. :( Thanks for sharing the link to the story structure. I'm going to go through all the videos once I can.

    And thank you for tagging me! :D

    1. The videos are great. There are about 5 of them and he uses examples from books and movies. Especially his example for Try/Fail cycles.