Today, I’m joined by author Sean P. Wallace. He’s here to talk about author who inspire him and give you a peek at his writing process. Enjoy!
I started writing stories as a child, really. I still have some of them! They were awful, but I loved writing them, telling stories I wanted to tell. Writing left me a little when I was a teen, as I tried to define who I was, but I picked it back up when I was about 19. I’ve not stopped since!
2. Are you a pantser or a planner?
Planner, Planner, Planner! I have to plan. I need to write down exactly what I expect to happen, the history of the world that informs these events, the history of the characters, everything like that. In order to write a story, I need to understand the world I will be writing in. I think that’s vital, especially for Fantasy works where you must have a consistent world. Fair play, though, to those who can work otherwise.
3. Can you give us an idea of your writing process?
I always spend days, perhaps weeks, planning the story out, as I said above. Where I will be creating a new world, I define everything about it that the story needs… but I do this in such a way that it leaves room for spontaneous definition of lesser details, such as taxation systems or surprise characters.
This done, I now map down the plot on an Excel spreadsheet. This habit is new but it helps so much if your story is taking place across multiple streams. Even if it isn’t, it’s nice to have an instantly-accessible file that says what point of the plot I’m in, and what comes next.
With all the planning done, I write! I aim for a chapter a day, which for me is ~2000 words. I find it difficult to write much more on a single piece. I only have so much to give an individual project each day. So I work on multiple projects at once!
When my first draft is finished (woo!), I let it rest for a couple of months. Books are like wine, they are addictive and you should hand them around at parties. Also, they need time to mature, and an author needs to distance themselves from it. The process of producing your second draft should always, I feel, disgust you. “What the hell was I thinking? Was I drinking too many books when I wrote this?”
I personally need six or more drafts to get my works ready. This is because I’m an idiot. I often change characters, place names, the overall tone of a plot… almost anything when I do my first draft. It takes me quite some time to get my novel right. I usually ask for Beta readers after the fifth draft, as that’s the point I usually love the book again. As such, it’s the point I need my delusions to be torn down again!
And then I’m done, done, on to the next one!
4. Which authors have influenced your work?
H.P. Lovecraft, Stephen King, George R. R. Martin, Neil Gaiman, Clive Barker, Dean Koontz, Margaret Atwood.
I plan to have Deep Echoes’ sequel out early next year. I am also a feature writer at http://www.geek-pride.co.uk, and am working on some film scripts. Watch this space. Please?
6. Any tips for new writers?
Have the courage to produce an awful, awful first draft. And then have the tenacity to polish it. Editing is horrible, hard, awkward, but it is the real work of writing.
7. Any tips for old writers?
Keep going! The world needs more artists, always has, always will.
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