Tuesday, December 01, 2009

In Awe? No Worries.

Today my guest is romance author Kimber Chin. She, like so many other writers have discovered, knows there is only one rule for writing, and that's "There are no rules." Welcome, Kimber.

When Terry mentioned guest blogging here, I was terrified. I mean, have you SEEN her storyboards?

The woman has her act together.

I'm, on the other hand, a disorganized mess. Before I start writing, I have a one sentence idea of what each chapter is like. For Invisible, chapter one's sentence was 'Loved one dies, hero and heroine meet.' That was it.

These are the notes I had for a recent short. I didn't even follow these 'guidelines.' I started writing and the characters took over.

(However, I do usually know my main characters as well as I know my best buddies. I know their greatest fears. I know they'll have to face them. I know what loved ones will conflict with yet 'fit' them. I know how they'll respond when faced with decisions.)

I recently attended a writer's retreat (my first ever). Other writers shared their plots, gathering input from everyone else. I didn't. Why? Because I can't write a story for someone else. I write for myself. If I think of readers when I write, I chicken out with the emotion. To get truly gritty and raw, I have to fool myself into thinking it will NEVER get published.

Writing in public is an issue for me also. Many of my buddies hang out at Starbucks, hammering out gripping stories on their laptops. Me, I cry while writing the black moments (if I don't cry, I haven't tortured my characters enough). I don't mind crying in public but it tends to disturb other kind hearted folks.

Nora Roberts, supposedly, only writes three drafts. I write twelve (at least) quickly. It takes me two months of full time writing to finish a 70,000 word novel. I use what I call the onion method. I build a base of emotion and then layer over top of that. If I have the emotion right, I know the rest of the story will work (if I don't, as with a current WIP, lord help me).

Many writers write scenes out of order. They then fit the scenes together. I write linearly. Every decision builds on the decision before it. That scene in chapter one will change chapter two and chapter three and…

Why am I sharing all this?

Because even though I do everything differently (or in some writer's eyes 'incorrectly'), I still get the stories written, the books published. There are no rules with writing, no right way. You try on methods and styles until you find one you're comfortable with.

I recommend shorts (stories of 10,000 words and less) to experiment with. This is one of those do as I say, not as I do reco's. I didn't start with shorts. I experimented with 70,000 plus word novels. Nothing is more heart breaking than getting 50,000 words in and realizing that the method you're using isn't working for you. I have coffins… I mean… boxes filled with dead stories.

I figured out what worked for me early on in my career. That was fortunate because once we're published, writing output naturally speeds up. Readers and publishers are in a hurry to read the next story so we don't have a lot of time to try other methods out. Think of this playing around as an investment in your career. It'll pay off later.

Kimber Chin writes contemporary romances. She reads ALL romance. Every month on http://businessromance.com/ , she gives away a copy of a favorite recent romance read.


Kimber Chin said...

Thank you so much for having me at your place today, Terry!
I look forward to meeting everyone!

Terry Odell said...

Kimber, so glad to have you. I was stuck in the tire dealership much of the morning (nails in 2 tires), and will be seeing our daughter off this afternoon. Thanks for holding down the fort!

Watery Tart said...

Thanks Kimber,

I love what you said about knowing your characters. I have to write a few scenes before I GET to know them (sometimes they are scenes that don't make the final round, mind you), but it is through what they do that I get a feel.

It's true though, that we each have to work out our own thing and for those of us compelled to write, there IS a way that will work, if we just keep trying to find it.

Sheila Deeth said...

This was cool. Thanks for letting us in on the secret that there is no magic right way.

Kimber Chin said...

LOL Terry

I'm stuck at work
so I don't know how much holding down I'm doing.

Watery Tart,
I SO hear you about the toss away chapters. I write scenes, they don't work and I KNOW it is because I haven't figured out my characters well enough.

Kimber Chin said...

Hi Sheila,

There IS a magic right way
but unfortunately it is unique to you.
Once you find a method,
writing REALLY gets fun.