A while back, I shamelessly asked for blogging ideas, and Sarah Tormey (I believe?) suggested I blog about how my writing process has changed since I began writing romance.

Gee, what an interesting question! Honestly, I am not sure. Let’s see. I’m currently writing my 6th romance novel (not counting the novella).

Things that have not changed: My pace of writing. Compared to many, I am a relatively slow writer. If I get 1500 words in a day, I’m thrilled. With deadlines every 5-6 months, this has meant I must be very disciplined and write almost every day. Of course, I inevitably fall behind–and I’m able to push myself to write 4 or 5,000 words in a day occasionally, when I need to. But that’s rare.

I still use the same method of plotting (or lack thereof). I tend to sketch out a fairly loose plot, basically strung around a series of “moments” I’m building toward (turning points, I suppose you might call them). But the connecting scenes between points A, B, C, etc. usually develop and evolve as I’m writing.

I like to think I’m a little better at identifying plot or characterization problems as they arise, and taking steps to correct them earlier rather later. Not perfectly prescient, of course, but to some degree I think I’ve internalized the voices of my trusted CPs and editor and can “hear” what they’d say before they say it. 🙂

Which leads me to another difference–I don’t exchange writing with critique partners as much as I used to. Or at least, not on a chapter-by-chapter basis. Part of that is sheer time constraints, but also just a certain comfort level we’ve gained with our own voices and craft. I still try to recruit several people to read finished drafts of every book so I can get a variety of reactions to the plot and characters, check for continuity and confusing scenes, etc. And if I’ve written myself into a corner, they help me talk me through it.

So those are my thoughts on it, unorganized as they might be. For the writers out there, how has your process evolved?

9 comments to “My writing process…a work in progress!”

  1. Courtney Milan
    · October 28th, 2009 at 4:15 pm · Link

    Not perfectly prescient, of course, but to some degree I think I’ve internalized the voices of my trusted CPs and editor and can “hear” what they’d say before they say it.

    The number of times I can just hear you say, “Is he walking up to a door AGAIN?” as I write is simply staggering.

  2. Lady Indis Dress
    · October 28th, 2009 at 5:43 pm · Link

    My writing process is eerily similar to yours, Tessa. Basic plot, connecting the dots as I go. I don’t have a critique group though, just my sister.

  3. Gillian
    · October 30th, 2009 at 6:34 am · Link

    When I reach the end of a scene and cannot visualize what’s happening next–or why on earth anything else needs to happen!–I leave the computer and the desk and go work somewhere else–usually the truck, as I’m always driving the kids–and write in a notebook. I think I’ve trained myself pretty well now, as it immediately starts the ideas flowing again. I completely ignored the oil change man this morning as I scribbled in my notebook. He would have enjoyed my “sex before or after the picnic?” notes.

    BTW, your books still have really good placement on our Wal-mart shelves. 🙂

  4. Evangeline
    · October 31st, 2009 at 12:47 am · Link

    Sounds like a pretty reasonable writing process. I tend to dream and brainstorm multiple plots at the same time, as well as do research for them all. This works for me because I’m always able to come back to a plot and characters a year later without the pressure to come up with something new on the spot if I sat down and wrote as soon as an idea hit me. This method also works well if I happen to obsess over a particular CD. Three years later, hearing Avril Lavigne’s second album, I can immediately conjure up the research (1890s Paris) and the general “mood” of the characters.

    As for the CP/CG–I’m winging it solo after trying it again and again for six years. I’ll probably rustle up some beta readers when I complete each MS, but the cp process is rather stifling, creatively, for me.

  5. TerriO
    · November 1st, 2009 at 7:13 pm · Link

    At the rate you write books, I find it fascinating that you consider yourself a slow writer. Though it is encouraging to hear it gets a little easier as you write more and find your footing.

    I’m starting a new story from scratch for the first time in three years. I’m hoping I’ve learned something in all these conferences and workshops and just *hanging* with my talented writer friends (including you).

    I’m plotting now, which I didn’t do before, and I’m participating in NaNo to keep myself motivated (shame is a great motivator) and prove I can do it. I even have a bit of a high concept, and for me, any concept is a revelation. 🙂

  6. Sarah Tormey
    · November 2nd, 2009 at 9:42 am · Link

    Thanks for answering my question Tessa! I feel honored:)

    Since I wrote the first draft of my first ms, Flirting with Scandal, my process has changed a fair bit. I try to keep all the wonderful feedback I’ve received about plotting and characterization in my head. I’ve tried and tried to outline and plan my plot, but I too generally follow a basic sketch.

    I do tend to write out scenes in dialogue first and then add the rest in later. This started when my characters began keeping me up at night talking and I didn’t have the energy to write out full scenes:)

  7. Chris
    · November 4th, 2009 at 12:20 pm · Link

    I would love to hear how you balance your writing with your family obligations, etc. I was amazed to read that you had started writing when your son was born. I could barely read magazines when my oldest was born. My concentration was completely shot.

  8. Susanna Ashdown
    · November 19th, 2009 at 9:57 am · Link

    I love reading your posts. I’m in the process of trying to write a novel but I’m struggling with how to contain and discard all of the ideas racing through my head on a daily basis? Any suggestions on how to string together ideas to create a cohesive novel that is one part romance and another part mystery?

  9. cattynotbatty
    · August 31st, 2010 at 8:47 pm · Link

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