Blog by VONNIE DAVIS -- International, Award-Winning Romance Author: Adventurous...Humorous...Amorous.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Writing Process Blog Tour by Vonnie Davis

Good Morning! I've been asked by fellow HarperCollins author Georgia Hill to be part of a blog tour to hopefully give insight into an author's writing process. Last week, the lovely award-winning Carmel Harrington talked about her process. To read about hers, click here. Her recent release, Beyond Grace's Rainbow, was awarded The Best Romantic Read eBook 2013 at UK's Festival of Romance and People's Kindle Book Awards.

This week, it's my turn to answer the four questions.

1.) What am I working on?
My Christmas novella with HarperImpulse--Santa Wore Leathers--has led to a three-book contract featuring firemen from the same station as Wolf, the hero in Santa. These will be full-length novels, with the first being the romance between Cassie and Quinn. It's titled To Catch A Flame.

I'm also starting edits on my first paranormal, contracted with Random House. The editor wants sex earlier in the book and more often. So I have on my feathered boa, adding more sizzle and "sighable" moments.

2.) How does my book (or books) differ from others of this genre?
I love to laugh. In fact, Calvin and I often remark how much love and laughter our house holds. My sense of humor carries over into my writing. I love putting my characters in goofy situations like I've often been in myself or use miscommunication to create something funny. My stories often involve extended families because I enjoy reading about those dynamics myself. I find I learn more about the main characters in a book from observing how they interact with family members. In Santa Wore Leathers, for example, my hero gave up his commission in the SEALs to take care of his orphaned siblings. He's a caregiver, an alpha-caregiver which in my opinion makes him all the more adorable.

A Hunk on a Harley isn't just for Christmas ...

3.) Why do I write what I do?
This is a question I often ask myself about 20,000 words into a project. Usually, my hero comes to me late at night just before I drift off to sleep. He'll make his presence known and tell me a little of his story. The bad part is, some of them are contemporary men, a few from various historical eras and a smidgen are paranormal. My agent would like to see me stick to one or two sub-genres, but my mind tends to follow the men. I mean they're so darn good looking and charming...wouldn't you follow them?

4.) How does your writing process work?
Once I decide on which hero's story to write about--there are half a dozen waiting not so patiently in my mind--I work on the beginning. The opening hook. Those first two or three paragraphs are so important. And I agonize over them...over every stinkin' word, over every emotion I'm trying to convey...until I feel it'll grab the reader's attention from the get-go.

I'm a pantser who is also a list maker. I list out my hero and heroine's attributes: past history, education levels, family dynamics, work history, favorites--like colors, food, drinks, clothes, shoe styles--things that push his or her buttons and is he or she a pet owner. Lastly, I think about his or her looks and hunt for a picture that resembles how I see that person.

I write my GMC sentence. Character wants (goal) because (motivation), but (conflict).

These things help direct me as I leap off the cliff into the nothingness of my story. I free-fall until the current of my characters' personalities lift my wings and help me fly through writing the book. This phenomenon usually happens about 20,000 words into my story. By then I've come to know the heroine and hero enough that they take charge and I merely take dictation.

I basically write in layers. First are dialog and some basic movements. Next, I add intricate body movements and sensory input...what is seen, smelled, heard and touched. Then, I layer in emotion and internal dialog. Lastly, I examine every word. Is there a stronger verb I can use? Have I fallen into my old habit of using the same word or phrase twice on the same page? Are there any -ing words? I examine punctuation. Then I send the chapter to my critique partners.

After they point out my errors, they return my chapter. I correct and tweak it some more. Some writers can write a crappy first draft of the entire book before they begin editing. I've tried. Truly. But I have this need to fiddle, to tweak, to add and delete. I can't bear to begin another chapter until I know I've made the previous one as good as I can--at least for that particular day. Or so my husband jokingly says. He knows how I am. Simply put, I edit the darn thing a good twenty times as I'm writing it--and, yes, I can drive myself nuts. But, hey, it's a short ride.

Once the entire book is written, I read over it again, looking for plot holes, inconsistencies and flow of prose. By now, a deadline is looming. Whenever I start a new project, my agent puts me on her reading schedule for a certain week. She knows it typically takes me four months to write a book. So as soon as I make one final pass over it, I email the manuscript to her along with her required character sheets that include name, age, career, part in the story and physical attributes like eye and hair color and speech patterns of every character mentioned. Her writers must also provide a time and location line for each chapter that details what happens and where, so we don't have characters having lunch twice on the same day. My agent does a hard edit--and I do mean hard, asking questions like why is she acting this way? Why doesn't he do thus and so? Have you researched this fact? Where's your research data? I'll want to see it. Meanwhile I write the synopsis.

She emails the edits back and I go through her tract changes, while she edits my synopsis. Once she deems the story good enough to "shop out". She IM's me the list of publishers she plans to query and asks if there are any I'd like her to add. The manuscript, synopsis and author bio are sent out in her typical query form, and we wait.

While we wait, I immediately begin work on another project or continue on something I have partially written. I like to keep at least three stories in various stages of production at once. If I hit a hard spot or a spell of writer's block, I hop over to something else and work on it until my subconscious hammers through the problems in the WIP.

I'm a romance writer and I love my job!


Angel Sefer said...

Thank you so much for this very interesting article.
Have a wonderful New Year!

Rachel Brimble said...

Wow, we have such a different process, V! I would literally go insane if I kept on going over the same chapter until I felt it was perfect. I'd probably never get past chapter 1, lol!

Thanks for sharing :)

Rachel x

Caroline said...

Great blog! Thanks for sharing. Caroline xx

Dixie Lee Brown said...

Excellent blog, Vonnie! Interestingly enough, I manage to write a crappy first draft AND go through each chapter about 20 times before I can continue! Thus, it takes a long, long time!

So, more sex in A Highlander's Beloved, huh? How soon can I pre-order!

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Glad you enjoyed the post, Angel. Happy 2014 to you, too.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

What works for one won't work for another because our minds work differently. Thanks for popping in, Rachel.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Thanks for commenting, Caroline. Hope wherever you live, you're keeping warm.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

We all have our own writing styles, don't we, Dixie? Yes, I wrote a sex scene today and AJ and Mac are ripping it apart now. LOL Pointing out all my flaws, I'm sure. But I will confess, it was the first I felt warm in days. Creighton will do that to you. Love me a man in a kilt...sigh.

Patricia said...

What a great inside look for us writers.
Thank you.

Angela Adams said...

Great post. Thanks so much for the insight...

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Patti, we all have our own ways of getting the job done. Some writers use software. I've never tried using that.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Thanks for stopping by, Angela. I should have asked writers to share their processes, shouldn't I?