My Writing Process (a blog hop)
Posted on August 18, 2014
The extremely talented K.B. Jensen K.B. Jensen is an author and journalist. She tagged me for the How I Write blog hop. Her debut novel, “Painting With Fire” is a great read. As a reporter, she has written extensively about crime in the Chicago suburbs and is a master craftsman of our shared language. Her talent and expertise shine throughout the novel. http://www.paintingwithfirenovel.com/
And now for my bit:
1. What are you working on at the moment?
A few too many projects – as in my hair is on fire. I am finishing the fourth Nick Grant Adventure Novel with the working title of “Mission: Hughes H-1”, I’m collaborating on a script for an Australian Public TV series about the 1919 Air race from England to Australia working title “Birdman of Oz” and I’m doing a non-fiction flying boat segment for Michael Dobson’s (no relation) “IMPROBABLE HISTORY: THE WEIRD, THE OBSCURE, AND THE STRANGELY IMPORTANT”. I also write magazine articles.
2. How do you think your work differs from that of other writers in your genre?
I write historical fiction about aviation during the Golden Age of Aviation and the Great Depression. It was a very bleak time in history as the world slid inexorable into World War Two. Few today write about the now obscure topic of flying boats. However they, and the people who flew them, were critical during the first fifty years of aviation. As a Pan American flying boat pilot, my protagonist participates in the intelligence and counter intelligence skirmishes that preceded the Pacific theater of the war. Before the space race with the Soviet Union, the United States was in a race with the Japanese to control the air routes across the Pacific. It was a time of intrigue and adventure.
3. Why do you write what you write?
I’m an avid historical fiction consumer and enjoy learning about history though the point of view of the fictional and real characters of the period. I’ve found that in writing about a period or important event the author becomes somewhat of an expert. I suspect that I use less than 25% of the material I learn in my works of fiction. The reader sees only a small part of the world I build in my head to tell the story. While I may think the extra ordinary detail about the period is spell binding, most readers just want to get on with the plot, characters and story. It’s a delicate balancing act.
4. What’s your writing process, and how does it work?
Linear, non-linear, and iterative. Sort of.
Several times a year I present at writers symposiums and conferences. A popular topic is my “Historical Fiction – A Backward Planning Approach.”
At writer shindigs I often hear other presenters and participants describe two distinct writing styles: Pantser and Plotter. I’m and a plotter with occasion excursions into wild flights of pantsing.
Linear: I follow a backward planning approach where I envision the end-state and ask a lot of questions.
• How does it end?
• Does the Protagonist get what they need but maybe not what they wanted?
• How do they change?
• Improvement X for Y?
• Is it a tragedy?
• Do they learn to late too late that …?
• What must our protagonist accomplish to succeed?
• How does the antagonist foil the protagonist? (REMEMBER Dodson: Conflict is the DNA of Story)
• What are the plot points that move the story to the next stage? (for example from Act I to Act II and from Act II to Act III)
Then I outline my story with chapter titles or headings and the main action and plot points within. Once I get the general gist of the story I start from chapter one and write towards the end.
Non-linear: Sometimes I’ll get stuck in a chapter and not know how to proceed. Then I can switch to a later chapter and write that one while awaiting the return of my muse and her divine guidance. An advantage is I’m seldom held up – even if I get stuck I can detour around and keep producing.
I do not always follow my outline. I have been known to dive off course and pursue sometime self-indulgent flights of pantsing.
Perish the thought!
However, as a thirty year career soldier I learned that even a detailed plan seldom survives first contact with the opposing force. That’s also true for my outline process. I’m hopeless at anticipating all the twists and turns of the action-adventure novel. Sometime the urge, or perhaps my muse has returned, takes me characters to unintended places. Sometimes the outcome is positive and the segment becomes part of the finished product. Sometimes my editor busts me with. “Jamie. You’ve been pantsing again.” After which a lengthily and often spirited discussion occurs about what to leave in and what to leave out.
Iterative: My most productive writing occurs in the morni
Since I'm working on Mission Hughes: H-1 right now, I don't have a lot of spare time to dedicate to a full-time blog. But, I will post updates about events I'm attending.Thanks for stopping by.Cheers!Jamie