Writing Process Blog Tour

I was tagged earlier this week for the Writing Process Blog Tour by the fabulous Casey Blair, so here’s a peek into my writing process/projects:

What am I working on?

Currently, I’m dedicating all writing capacity to my first novel, The House of Stories. It’s a middle grade portal fantasy in which the main character travels to a land peopled by characters from stories he has read. It’s also about family, and about growing up, and what stories mean to those who tell them. I’m actually a little superstitious about giving away too many details before writing the story down in full, so I hope to share more details once I finish the manuscript.

Other than that, I’m writing a short story now and again. Most of my recent output has been fantasy, (which the exception of one story I wrote last October), but I want to stretch out and try my hand at some hard sf. Truthfully, there was a time when I read a lot of hard sf, but my earlier attempts at writing the same were atrociously bad. Recently though, I read Vernor Vinge’s A Fire Upon the Deep, and its reignited (no pun intended) my interest in writing something in a similar vein. We’ll see if that experiment yields any results.

How does my work differ from others in the genre?

I think that no two writers will be the same, regardless of what they write, because a diverse set of literary influence and life experience contributes to the type of writer one becomes.

My work is influenced by the two worlds I grew up in. I was born in India and moved to Canada when I was eight. I’m 25 now, so I’ve spent the majority of my life here, but I’ve retained strong cultural ties through family that influence my worldview. In that sense, my protagonists are primarily POC and my stories to some degree draw on my experience as a member of the diaspora. Representation and diversity are important to me, even though they were never something I sought out or overtly noticed as a younger reader.*

Why do I write what I do?

As I noted last November, fantasy/sf illuminates the way I see the world better than any strictly realistic form of writing.

In the books I read, I could be travelling across the frozen world of Gethen one day, or riding with Temur under the eternal sky, or visiting the Labyrinth of Forgotten Books in 1940’s Barcelona. These are the experiences I read for, and I want to give my readers a similar map to take them where they haven’t gone before.

How does my writing process work?

I write between 3 and 6 drafts of all my short stories. The first draft is usually not readable and consists of me telling the story to myself. Draft 2-3 is where I get my major structural problems fixed, and clear up character motivations. (I have this theory that if I can fix the structure of my stories, half my drafting problems will be solved. It’s a work in progress.)

Draft 4-6 consist of tightening up sentences and agonizing over which lines I should cut out of the final drafts. Around draft 4, I’m willing to show the story to beta readers, after which I’ll send it out on submissions. I use Submissions Grinder to keep track of my short story submissions.

I obsessively track my wordcount in a spreadsheet, with separate columns for short stories and novel projects. Recently, I added a time metric to track how long I write each day. If I’m feeling fancy, I’ll occasionally put together a graph with averages and actual wordcounts. I find that tracking it like this helps me to focus on the day to day act of getting the words down.

I’m using Scrivener for my novel right now, and I’d highly recommend it, if you’re like me, and the thought of keeping anything longer than 10,000 words organized in your head makes you shake. I haven’t nailed down my process for novel writing, but I think I fall around the center on the spectrum between outlining and pantsing.

Pro-tip: movie soundtracks make the best writing music. I’m fond of A.R. Rahman, Ramin Djawadi, and Alexandre Desplat’s compositions.

***

Here’s a list of the other posts in the Writing Process Blog Tour.  Check them out:

Casey Blair

Aliza Greenblatt

Nicole Lisa

Alex Haist

Blair MacGregor

* – There’s so much more I want to speak to on this particular topic, but I will save it for a separate blog post.

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