Sunday, November 29, 2015

Beautiful Books Linkup--November

Cait at "Paper Fury" is co-hosting a linkup called "Beautiful Books." It's a lot like her "Beautiful People" linkup, except focused more on the actual book than the characters. It's also great for answering questions about your NaNoWriMo book, which I'll be doing this month. It's called Ms. Holmes.

1. Is the book turning out how you thought it would be, or is it defying your expectations?

Yes and no. The book is very much following the original outline I wrote in October, but as always, my characters run the show. Recently my villain's love interest tried to tell me that she was actually my secondary character, too, and has been disguising herself as her in order to screw my main character over. I shut that one down pretty quickly because it was insane and would require a massive overhaul on the last hundred pages or so, but it did spark some ideas.

2. What’s your first sentence (or paragraph)?

The morning was cold, but the fire crackling across the room kept the place above chilly levels. There hadn’t been a day this week that wasn’t rainy or grey. It was just another November in London, but I hardly noticed it. My face had been buried in sketches for weeks. My fingertips, smudged with pencil, matched the color of the sky. Raindrops pelted the window with a kind of ferocity that made it sound like kids throwing pebbles at it again. I shut the curtains and moved my plans by the fire to read.

As you can see, it needs lots of work.

3. Are you a plotter or a pantser? Have you ever tried both methods and how did it turn out?

I started out as a complete pantser. I'd have the smallest idea in mind and I would run with it until I got bored, which means I have a lot of unfinished novels in the depths of my documents. I tried plotting a few years ago--for NaNoWriMo, actually--and really liked it, because it made it easier to push through certain scenes since I knew what was coming next. Now I consider myself a "plantser." I almost always write an outline for my book before starting, but I'm flexible enough to change it as I go if something isn't working out. This has helped me actually finish a lot more stories.

4. What do you reward yourself with after meeting a goal?

Netflix, usually. I recently got into "The 100," so I don't let myself watch another episode until I reach my word count.

5. What do you look for in a name? Do you have themes and where do you find your names?

It totally depends on the character. Sometimes I'll go for name meanings, but that limits me a lot, so I usually just pick a name I like for my main characters. I try to go for something unique enough to be remembered, but not so crazy that you can't pronounce or spell it. I used baby naming books a lot when I was younger and compiled a list of names I liked that I keep in my inspiration folder. Whenever I hear a name I want to use, I write it down, then I go through the list when it's time to create characters. I have to make a note of which names I use and in what books now so I don't reuse them accidentally!

Here's a page from my "Awesome First Names" list. I have one for last names, as well, but this one is definitely more extensive.

6. What is your favourite to write: beginning, middle, or end — and why?

Usually it depends on the story, but I love to write endings, especially of the bittersweet variety. Finding that perfect last line or scene that'll make your readers cry sparks my creativity like nothing else. But beginnings are always fun, too, because I'm always so excited to start this new and shiny project. I can knock out 5,000 words in an hour. But once I hit the 15,000-20,000 word mark, I start slowing down. I like the idea of middles more than I like writing it.

7. Who’s your current favourite character in your novel?

I'm really liking the one-eyed cat (whose name is Sir Mittens, but Astrid refuses to call him anything but "it" or "the cat") and Mr. Hudson. Sir Mittens is like my dog in the sense that he's a little neurotic and likes to lie down on anything, even if it's the project you're working on at that very moment. And Mr. Hudson is just so happy and welcoming to everyone, and he and his boyfriend are adorable together.

8. What kind of things have you researched for this project, and how do you go about researching? (What’s the weirdest thing you’ve researched?!)

Google is my best friend. I can find anything with it, including when rubber bands were invented and the effects of certain slow-acting poisons. I think if anyone outside my family and writerly friends had seen just how excited I was to find a page all about poisons and what they smell/look like, they would've been seriously concerned.

9. Do you write better alone or with others? Do you share your work or prefer to keep it to yourself?

I get more excited about my work when I'm with other writer friends, but I think I'm actually more productive alone. And I share my work all the time, but usually just with my critique partners who I know will give me helpful and honest advice without being harsh about it. I'll share snippets on my blog, but generally not much more than that.

10. What are your writing habits? Is there a specific snack you eat? Do you listen to music? What time of day do you write best? Feel free to show us a picture of your writing space!

I live off of Cheez-Its and mochas in November, although right now with Christmas coming up I'm enjoying holiday cookies (like biscoitos, yum!). I almost always listen to music (a lot of "Sherlock" soundtrack music has been showing up on my playlists recently), unless I'm really trying to focus on a complicated plot point or tricky wording in a sentence. Then the lyrics can get really distracting. I don't think the time of day matters much, since I can write whenever, but it's definitely easier to focus when I get up earlier than everyone else.

Biscoitos, a Portuguese holiday cookie. It's similar to a shortbread, but really soft and chewy. My dog loves them, too.

I love my writing space. It's tucked away, cozy, and has a very creative feel to it when I sit down at my desk. Plus, everything I need is within arm's reach, so I don't even have to get up and ruin my flow to grab something.

A closer look at one side of the desk. My handy whiteboard is up on the wall, pencils and a notepad by my keyboard, inspirational quotes framed where I can see them.

And the other side. My corkboard has been super helpful when I'm trying to organize all of the edits my CPs give me, plus I can switch out fun pictures for an inspiration boost. I keep those "You should be writing" pictures right where I can see them so if I'm ever tempted to get distracted, they put me back on track.
Your turn! Feel free to answer some or all of the questions in the comments below. :) I love hearing from other writers!


Rich said...

(Notes to self; Quietly check your drink for green color BEFORE you take a sip while at their house...)

Robyn Petrik said...

I love your desk! I've been hankering for a bigger desk with more tabletop space like that lately. My desk always ends up covered in notebooks, books, pens, and whatever projects I'm working on recently, ha.

Boquinha said...

Fun post! You have GOT to read "The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie." I think you'll love it.

I enjoy seeing the pictures and hearing your thoughts about your writing space. I also love hearing about your WIP. Well done!

The Magic Violinist said...

@Rich *snorts* However, lots of poisons are colorless and odorless . . . ;)

@Robyn Petrik Thank you! :) Oh mine, too, for sure. I have to regularly take a few minutes to put everything back in its right place because I neglect to do it while I'm in the middle of a project. A bigger desk is a great investment!

@Boquinha It's on my TBR shelf! I think so, too. :)

Thanks! I love reading about that sort of thing on other blogs, too.