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#Writing Community Blog Award

Happy Friday!

If you’ve been reading my posts for a while, you may remember me posting about this award back in November of 2020. That time, I was tagged by Julia Witmer, and I really enjoyed taking part and answering the fun questions she asked. I think most authors enjoy talking about their writing process, and I’m no exception! You can find that post here.

Last week, Kristianne, from Whimsical Wanderings, tagged me to participate again, and her questions look too fun to pass up (I’m going to assume doing it twice isn’t frowned upon)! I hope you enjoy reading through them, and catching another glimpse into the terrifying thing called my writing mind, haha. I’d also love to hear how you would answer the questions!

The rules for this tag are as follows:

1. Display the award logo on your site. (That’s it, in the header!)

2. Link back to the person who tagged you. (You can find Kristianne’s post here, and I highly recommend you check out the rest of her site while you’re there. She’s a very talented writer and book reviewer!)

3. Answer five questions.

4. Tag three blogs (writing related blogs, not book review or unrelated blogs) and ask them five new questions.

5. Follow as many blogs with this award as you can.

And now, onto the questions!

Who is the audience that you write for?

Despite almost all the writing/publishing advice I’ve read stressing the importance of determining my target audience, I still haven’t quite nailed this down. I’ve put some serious thought into it lately though, so this is a timely question!

The specific audience varies by the book, but in general, I write for teens/young adults, probably around ages 13-24. That being said, one of the reasons I’ve always struggled to determine my target audience is because I don’t want to limit my writing to one group of people. While YA readers are probably the ones that would enjoy most my books the most, I do strive to write stories that will inspire and entertain older readers as well.

It definitely does vary somewhat by book though. No matter how many times people tell me it’s better to stick to one genre/age group, I just can’t do it, haha. There are far too many stories in my head to limit myself to just one type. Some of my stories are fit for younger readers, some are better suited for mid-teens and up. Some are explicitly Christian, and some still contain Christian themes but would be better accepted by secular readers too.

This feels like a very long non-answer, so to condense, my writing audience is primarily YA readers right now.

Are you a pantser or a plotter?

Hmm, another question I’ve been trying to answer for myself lately. When I first started writing, I was definitely a pantser. No outlines, no specific goals for the plot . . . just create some characters and a general story idea and get to work filling pages!

A few years ago, I took the One Year Adventure Novel1 writing course and it completely changed and improved my writing. One of the things it taught me was how to outline effectively, and what makes a good story structure. From then on, until just last month, I have been a staunch plotter. Outlines for the story as a whole, for each chapter, sometimes for every scene . . . . Occasionally I’d stray from them, if I realized my outline didn’t make sense somewhere, but mostly, I stuck to those pages I’d prepared.

Now I’ve reached the point of experimentation. Both methods work, but as for which works best for me, I’m still trying to figure that out. My ‘pantsed’ books have consistently had more edge-of-your-seat plots, but I’ve struggled to stay motivated, especially in the middle. My heavily-plotted books have been much cleaner, with fewer rabbit trails and loose ends to tie up, but more predictable story developments.

The novel I’m working right now is my first to ‘pants’ in years – a dystopian/thriller – and I’m going to use it as an experiment, to see how it turns out, and whether the process of writing it works better for me. Now that I understand what makes a good story (thank you OYAN!), I’d like to take the benefits of both styles of writing, and combine them, rather than going to either extreme like I have in the past. Hopefully, I’ll end up as some sort of . . . plantser?

Which comes first when you get a story idea: characters, plot, or setting/world?

Either the characters or the plot.

When it’s the characters, it usually begins with a line of dialogue. A line will suddenly appear in my mind, and I can hear a character saying it. If it’s intriguing enough, I’ll think about it more, and try to figure out who is speaking that line, and why. Is it someone in trouble? Why? What’s happened to them? Typically, it doesn’t take long before I’ve determined who that character is, and I go on to write the rest of the story around them.

If it’s the plot, it usually springs from a question. What would the world be like if everyone was allergic to sunlight? What if a talented pianist lost her sight? What would happen if your dreams came true the next day? They come from everywhere . . . work, dreams, other books or movies, miscellaneous remarks from others . . . That saying about watching what you say around a writer is definitely true for me, haha. It may just spark an entire novel!

Not all my ideas are worth making into a full-length novels, but sometimes they’re great for shorter works, like flash fiction or poems. Other times, they’re just barely-concealed rip-offs from whatever movie or book I was just engrossed in, and I have to toss them, haha. Thankfully, I haven’t had a shortage of story ideas yet – and most either bring characters or a plot first.

What genre is your favorite to write and why?

Oh man, choosing that feels an awful lot like choosing a favorite child! So far, I only know my favorite is probably not historical fiction, and I guess that makes me a terrible ‘parent’, haha.

Ironically though, that’s what I’ve written the most of. Historical fiction has always been one of my favorites to read, as I love learning about history, but I’ve learned rather painfully that I’m terrible at researching and remembering those facts when writing. And it doesn’t help that my first historical era to write about was the Golden Age of Piracy (mid-1600’s), which has little reliable information. It’s been an adventure!

In an attempt to escape the heavy research load, my more recent works have veered into the realms of dystopian and fantasy. I haven’t done enough yet to tell which I prefer, but so far I have really enjoyed writing them. It’s nice to have a change, and to try something new.

I plan to continue experimenting until I do find a favorite genre, but as of right now, I’d say there have been pros and cons to each genre I’ve tried, which include allegorical, historical fiction, dystopian, fantasy, and science fiction. I love writing each of them for different reasons.

How do you handle criticism and rejection in your writing?

And now for the toughest question. . . I have a difficult time with them, honestly. There’s still a lot I need to learn about handling criticism and/or rejection of my writing. I’m slowly getting better about it, though, and it has a lot to do with perspective.

The main thing that’s helped me is to remember that you can’t please everyone. You really can’t. Some people just won’t like your story, whether it’s because they don’t enjoy the genre, don’t care for your particular writing style, or don’t want to read about the story elements you’ve chosen. And that’s okay! If you can’t please everyone, you shouldn’t stress about trying to.

Whenever I receive negative comments about my work, or lose a contest, or am made to feel like my stories are horrible, I’ve learned that I need to take a step back and let my head clear. If I dwell on it in the moment, I end up beating myself up and wanting to throw in the towel. But after I’ve let myself have some time to process things, I can start to analyze what’s happened.

Is the person criticizing it because there’s actually a problem with the story that I should fix? Or because it just doesn’t suit their preferences? If it’s the first, I should definitely take it into account. If it’s the second, the responsibility is off my shoulders. If I remember that ultimately I’m writing with and for God, then I can place those comments in His hands and trust that He’ll help me bring my story to the place it should be, and to the readers who will enjoy and be inspired by it.

On my desk, I have a sticky note that reads, ‘Leave perfect to God, and tell stories that lead people to Him’. Our writing will never be perfect. It’s just not possible. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be incredible. The important thing is that we do our best to make it the best it can be; always learning, always remembering that no one story can please everyone, and most of all, always striving to follow God’s leading with every story we create.

Well, those are my answers! Long-winded, granted, but I guess that ensures they really are mine, haha.

To continue this, I’d like to tag:

  1. Lauryn Trimmer, at Pro Story Builders
  2. Julia Witmer
  3. Raina Nightingale, at Enthralled By Love
  4. YOU, if you have a writing-related blog and would like to participate!

(I know some of you have been tagged for this previously, so as always, don’t feel pressured to take part if you’d rather not.)

Here are my questions for the people I’ve tagged:

And that’s all I have for now! I really enjoyed participating in this tag again, and I hope you found it entertaining and/or helpful. Sometimes writing just for the fun of it, like I did today, can be such a good way to unwind.

I’d love to hear YOU answer these questions! Who do you write for, and in what genre/s? Are you a plotter or a pantser, and do you think of characters, plots, or story worlds first? How do you handle criticism and rejection in your writing? Let me know in the comments below!

1. The One Year Adventure Novel curriculum can be found here.

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