Anyone who has taken a gander at my friends list has probably noticed that a lot of the writers on the list spend a great deal of time talking about their writing process. This should surprise none of the people who knew me before I started Eeeevil Agenting, really. It’s not the writing process per se that rivets my otherwise gnat like attention, its information, and the writing process has to be about the most malleable set of information I can think of.

So two quick questions for the writers:

What is your favorite part of the writing process?

What do you do when you know you’ve done something wrong and haven’t yet figured out what the source of that wrongness is?

  • Two parts actually. *grins*
    When an idea first hits me. Kind of like that "first date" feeling. I get that same high, all giddy and goofy. It's all I can think about.
    And then, when the story actually gels. When I see the ending, or see how the whole thing is going to play out. Those kind of epiphany moments are awesome.
    As for the second. Hmmmmm. *cue crazy* I usually sit down with my characters and chat about it. They're a wacky bunch and never fail to tell me what it is. Even if sometimes it takes a while because they're sulking about it.

  • I think my favorite part comes before I even start a lot of writing. I enjoy thinking about the main characters, what do they like, what are they like, what are their motives, etc etc. I just really enjoy watching them take shape.
    As for the other, I'm lucky to have a couple good friends who read and edit for me and I usually show them the wrongness and see if they can help me find it. If not, then if at all possible, I set it aside, work on something else and come back to it a few days/weeks later with fresh eyes. I can usually find it then

  • 1. My favorite part of the writing process is when I write something that was unplanned but sort of makes everything else make more sense, makes everything click.
    2. I usually retrace my steps to the point in my story where I feel things started to go wrong, throw out everything from that point forward, and rewrite something that goes in a different direction.

  • My favorite part: When I read over a section I've been working on and everything comes together so perfectly I get immersed in the whole story, and this overwhelming feeling of "Bam! That's it" hits me.
    When something is wrong: I leave it for a day or week or month and come back to it when I can see it more objectively. Also, I read it pretending I'm another person and try to perceive it the way they would.

  • I don't have a favorite part. I like pretty much every part of the process. After about the zillioneth round of editing the same thing, I can get pretty sick of it, but otherwise, I do like it all.
    As for the wrongness question, that depends on the work in progress. If it's something I'm steeped in, I almost never get that stuck. I go back and reread and the bit that's gumming up the flow usually reveals itself. With a newer piece, I generally go back to the plotting and look for the problem there. If I get really hung up, I hand it to my First Readers to diagnose.

  • I actually like the editing part, because I have something complete that I can tinker with. Like dominoes; if I change this, then this has to change and this and this. Of course, that's when I know what to tinker with. The writing from scratch part is fun, but I rather like having something done and concrete and knowing what can be done with it.
    If I don't know what's wrong, or how to fix it, usually I a)say "arrrgggh" a lot b) work on something else for a while, because distance can give perspective, and c) see if I can get a couple victims–er, beta readers to bounce ideas off of.

  • "What is your favorite part of the writing process?"
    My favourite part of the writing process is when you're innocently working on a scene and, without any preconceived notion, some small detail you wrote pages before suddenly snaps into focus and becomes important to what you're writing now.
    "What do you do when you know you've done something wrong and haven't yet figured out what the source of that wrongness is?"
    Make a note, but keep on writing as inevitably the 'what is wrong' and 'how to fix it' will come to me. 🙂

  • My favorite parts of the process are those no-process moments, when the nuts and bolts fade from view and something higher happens. A little hoo-hoo, I know, but that's where it's at.
    As for the wrongness: I go out and mow the yard or wash some dishes. Something repetitive. Something that requires more body than brain. And (I don't know how or exactly why this happens, but it happens) I generally get some random word or phrase stuck in my head. A line from a song. A curious turn of phrase I heard somewhere. As I grinding away at my chosen chore, this becomes a kind of rhythm, a mantra.
    "…the source of that wrongness, the source of that wrongness, the wrongness, the wrongness, the wrongness, the source."
    And when I'm done, when I sit back down to the keyboard, most times the answer just comes, as if I never stopped typing in the first place.
    A "little" hoo-hoo. Right.

  • answers
    1. My favorite part of the writing process would be the little surprises that pop up. No matter how much outlining and planning I do, I love when a new character will introduce himself and demand to be included in the story. I've found this character smacks me on the head to point out the subplot I didn't realize I had set up.
    2. When things go wrong and I need to mull it over to figure out what and where, I tend to take a short break from what I am writing and dive back into Tolkien's works. Nothing inspires me more than his writing. After pulling myself out of Middle-Earth I can often return to my writing and see clearly where I've gone wrong.

  • <q>What is your favorite part of the writing process?</q>
    For me, the favorite part of the writing process is being finished. I’m very tactile and I love holding a manuscript in my hands. That favorite part is a dead heat with the other favorite part: watching a person’s face as he/she’s reading my stuff. If I’ve managed to induce a trance state with my prose, my reader’s face will tell me everything about whether or not I’ve done my job as a storyteller.
    <q>What do you do when you know you've done something wrong and haven't yet figured out what the source of that wrongness is?</q>
    I keep writing. I try again. When it works – or starts to – I can just feel it. I get jazzed and the words flow like rain in the monsoon season. (I can tell this passages on re-reading because they’re the ones where about 10% of the words are missing because I’ve been typing too fast.)
    For example, in my first novel, whenever I wrote scenes with this one character, I kept thinking “there’s no way this guy is this stupid.” And then one day, it finally hit me—he wasn’t that stupid, but he was purposefully behaving stupidly because . . . wow! he had a secret. I thought that it was nice of him to finally let me in on it, and then tapped out the rest of the story. It was as if all the strands of the plot fell together in a nice, neat braid. And feedback from the twenty or so folks who have read the thing has been universally “wow!” as well.
    Sometimes, though, just working through doesn’t do the trick. So, I call on the ancient wisdom of one of college professors whose mantra (repeat after me) was “writing is a social process.” So, I have people read it – and I discuss it with them.
    For example, in Novel #1, the first 3rd is heavy. Ponderous, to be kind. (I know this because I know exactly the point in the story when my readers go from giving me polite feedback to giving me honest feedback.) But everything in the first third is Important – or so I thought. Well, no, I’m right. It is Important. BUT. It’s not presented in the right order. Folks told me that you shouldn’t do flashbacks. You should do this. You shouldn’t do that. Now, the word “should” (and it’s first cousin, “shouldn’t”) has a curious effect on me, and you’d think at my age I’d’ve learned to deal with that, too. My therapy needs aside, I ultimately needed to guilt-trip a very busy editor friend of mine into reading the thing. Because she’s known me for a couple of decades and knows just where to aim the 2 x 4. Her diagnosis was so frigging simple, I wanted to scream. The problem had nothing to do with flashbacks, nonlinear chronology – all of which you shouldn’t use because someone wrote on some website somewhere that you shouldn’t. The problem, she told me, was that I told the ending first. Well, no, technically, what I revealed in the first third wasn’t the ending. She agreed, but…. and then I got it. (cue: screaming)
    So, I keep tweaking and rewriting away (I do not fear revision – I fear disappointing my readers) and look for the person wielding the 2 x4 who actually knows how to aim it properly. There are lots of people out there willing to give lumber-lashing feedback, but few who know how to aim it properly.
    This isn’t part of your question, but I know when something works because, when I re-read it, I have a hard time believing that wrote it. Yeah, it’s that good. (Clearly, I need therapy.)

  • At the risk of sounding like my usual silly self: collecting a fat check. 🙂 Nothing says 'you've done it right' as sincerely as money. (It is perfectly possible to do it right without the money coming your way, but it is a form of 'reassurance' from readers I may never meet.)
    Next on the list is that hair stand up on your neck moment that comes when you have got (usually a highly emotive) scene right. When I get the cald grue — and I wrote it and know exactly what will happen next… I know it's just a little 'special'(chuckle. yes. I chose the word on porpoise).
    Next is the sheer joy of seeing the ends tie in, knit and form a cohesive story. This usually happens in the bath. I should wash more often.
    And finally is that moment of joy when the first draft's last page comes off the printer… relief, satisfaction… and 30 minutes later post-partum despair at the inadequacy of it.

  • 1. Any moment where I've been listening to music while writing, and suddenly I come up for air and realize that I haven't been hearing the music because the story's become more real than what's going on around me.
    2. I run it by the Carpe Libris gang, or any other innocent victims who volunteer to test read.

  • long answer
    What is your favorite part of the writing process?
    When a story hits out of the blue, the entire thing from start to finish in a matter of seconds, that's a rush…
    A story takes an unexpected twist or development.
    Typing the last few pages of a full length novel.
    What do you do when you know you've done something wrong and haven't yet figured out what the source of that wrongness?
    If the wrongness is very bad, sit the story on a back burner, simmer and stir from time to time.
    If the writing of a story / concept is in a groove keep plugging away. The wrongness will sort itself, then if needed go back and correct. Often a wrongness feeling will fade, and or what was wrong was not wrong. As the story progressed what felt wrong made perfect sense.
    In "Bristol" there are stories within the story, one of which was a serial killer bashing whores with a hammer. Made no sense at the time and felt wrong, it just popped into the story. There were other issues as well. Backburner, let it simmer, stirred, still did not make sense.
    Added spices, placed back onto a front burner and cooked. Those who read the draft liked it. The Hammer Killer was something going on in the background of San Francisco's nightlife and gave an edge of reality to it. One of the heroes Lt. Crisp was courting a lady doctor who turned out to be the Hammer Killer! Crisp has the worse luck with women. Historical novel, taking place in the weeks prior to the American Civil War. The number of wrong feelings were not justified. That said, pausing to simmer and stir did help with direction for the story.
    What happened with Bristol is not always the case, sometimes wrongness is wrongness.
    Since I am not on deadlines, backburner and simmering is okay. I do not like to have a lot of stories on backburners. At some point, I'll grab a story, focus and punch it out in short period of time. A story on a backburner does not mean a wrongness and simply in line waiting for me to finish another story.

  • Favorite part: editing. I loooooove going back and tweaking stuff. All the hard part is done. Mmmm.
    I have no idea how to answer the other question. I either know what I did wrong, or I am running with the twist and it's not wrong anymore.
    Or else someone tells me there's an issue and I prod around with it till I can edit it so it works.