I’m thrilled to be joined today by Vanessa Barger, a fellow Month9Books author. Sit back, relax, and enjoy learning about her writing process!
1. When did you start writing?
I can’t pinpoint exactly when I started, but I have always been making up stories and writing them down. The earliest ones were usually about princesses or dinosaurs on those fabulous board books you got to make in elementary school. I finished my first novel in middle school (and it shall NEVER see the light of day. EVER.) and then write lots of beginnings in high school but finished nothing. In college I took a break. Wrote some fanfiction, wrote some of my own stuff, and finally decided to try “for real” just after I graduated from my undergraduate degree.
2. Are you a pantser or a planner?
I’m a panster. I sometimes pretend I’m a planner, but I’m not. Even when I make a plan, the characters eventually take me off on a tangent and then I look around and realize the outline really doesn’t fit anymore. Every once in a while, I HAVE to plot something out because there is a sequence of events that has to happen a certain way. But even that is more a general guideline.You know, like Pirate Code. J
3. Can you give us an idea of your writing process?
First, I get an idea. I keep a writing journal where I write down everything, snippets in my head, overhead conversations, ideas, etc. Sometimes it’s a dream that inspires something. Once I decide I want to write the story, I use the notebook or OneNote to create profiles for the main characters. They aren’t fancy. I add to them as I go, and I really only do them because after the last book it was a PAIN in the rear to have to go back and figure out whose eye color was what, because I wasn’t sure I hadn’t written it in wrong. Then I write. Sometimes, I don’t even know where it will end up. Most of the time I do at least know the big climax that has to happen. My current WIP is the exception to the rule. I know what I want to happen to the characters to a point, but the scenarios for the ending are quite varied and there are about six ways I could take it. I don’t normally write so blind, but I’m trying it. We’ll see how it goes.
Once the draft is written, I edit, edit again, and then send to my awesome crit partner, and then my agent. And then I chew my nails and agonize and try to convince myself that she won’t send it back and ask why she decided to represent me.
4. Which authors have influenced your work?
I’m a total Shakespeare and Austen groupie. I want to create stories that stick around as long as that. As for actual writing style, I also love Lisa Ann Sandell. Every word is just so well chosen. I love Bill Bryson’s humor, and Katie MacAlister’s. Tolkien, Susan Cooper, CS Lewis. There are just too many to name!
5. What are you plans/future projects/new releases that we should be aware of?
I have a new book coming Spring 2014 from Month9Books! Its working title is A WHISPERED DARKNESS and it’s a YA Paranormal. Here’s the one line summary for you: A young girl and her mother are haunted by spirits who inhabit their new home and the only way to stop her mother’s possession is to join them.
I have another one out with my agent right now that’s a loose (VERY loose) Hamlet retelling. I have a love/hate relationship with that one. It took two years for me to release it to anyone else. So we’ll see what she thinks.
6. Any tips for new writers?
Don’t be discouraged. Keep writing. Find a critique group. And above all, DON’T submit any query letters until your manuscript is ready. I’m SO guilty of doing this even when I knew I shouldn’t have. Don’t do it. It’s a bad idea.
7. Any tips for old writers?
You can learn new tricks? Don’t think you’re pigeon-holed into one genre. Try something new and see where it takes you!
Thanks for having me, Jen! I really enjoyed it!
Facebook Fan Page: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Vanessa-Barger-Fan-Page/169674883067474