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Writing Process, Book 1 (Part 1)

I’ve been thinking a lot about how my writing process has changed. If I record the development of my writing, maybe it will help someone else the way it helps me to read about other writers. Here we go!

I didn’t grow up convinced I was an author. Sure, I dabbled in stories and poetry, but they were either for school assignments or my own personal pleasure.

Then I had kids. Children change your life in so many ways. My middle child changed my writing life when she found some old paragraphs from a non-existent story and asked for the rest of it. I had to tell her that’s all there was.

That was purely unacceptable, so she quizzed me for at least an hour about my characters, world, and possible plot. When she thought I had enough for a story, she ordered me to write it. I protested I didn’t remember all my answers. She wrote them all down. Nope, no excuses.

So I “plotted” all six chapters of the short story I had in mind, and I started writing. From the beginning. One very slow paragraph at a time, starting in July 2013. Most of the time, I wrote strictly in order, following the simple notes I called a plot. On rare occasions, I’d skip around a bit to avoid difficult parts, then circle back to fill in the blanks.

At this point in my writing life, I had no intention of EVER going professional. In fact, I didn’t even tell my friends I was writing. This story was for my daughter, that’s all. Okay, fine, my husband and other children could read it, too.

As I wrote, I had to keep bumping plot notes from one chapter to the next as the middle of the story expanded. Pretty soon, I had eight chapters, and I wasn’t even finished. Then twelve, fifteen, twenty! It was now March of 2015, and I had myself a complete novel clocking in at 104,000 words.

Somewhere in the middle of 2014, I finally told a few select friends about my book. Then in late 2015, months after I finished, I decided that I ought to join a writer’s group and get some real critique. Just to make the book as good as possible for my daughter, you understand. I still wasn’t going pro.

So I found a group and shared my first half-chapter (word count limits), feeling like I was baring my soul. Sharing a creative baby is scary! It didn’t help that the guy who was critiqued right before me was told to kill his chapter and go back to the drawing board…

I shared anyway, shaking in my chair, and sure, I got LOTS of comments to fix things, but the readers also said they liked the story. I took their suggestions home and revised almost every day until the next meeting. Then I took in the next half-chapter, with similar results.

After several months, I started noticing trends in the comments. One frequent comment was “head-hopping.” It seemed I didn’t really understand point of view (POV). Oh. Okay. Hello, library, let’s do research. (I love the library.)

After a lot of reading and discussing and thinking, I decided I needed to split my chapters and stick firmly to only one POV per chapter, with the POV character named first.

One very long and tiring revision later (read “weeks”), I had thirty-three chapters that I thought were now single-POV. So now the big revision was over, and I could just work on the minor edits. Right?

I bet you experienced writers out there are now shaking your heads…

I’ll stop there and pick up next time.
M. C. Lee

© 2018 M. C. Lee LLC. All rights reserved.

Kinship

I write about different fictional cultures, and I like that. I do use some ideas from real (Terran) life, as well as some ideas that I make up (or don’t realize come from real life). And I do research lots and lots of things. I find it fun, most of the time.

One of my story characters, Nia, comes from a culture with pretty loose family rules and infrequent marriage. She led me down a path of kinship research that was highly entertaining, except when I couldn’t find the right term for a kinship relationship. (After trying several exotic terms, I finally settled on the simpler “near-sibling” and “far-sibling” terms for some of her brothers and sisters.)

If you like dabbling in anthropology, here are some fun kinship articles for you.

An explanation of kinship terminology, and a glimpse at several different systems (how families are set up and who is considered related): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kinship_terminology

Kinship terms (what relatives are called) in different languages. Click on each language to explore: http://www.omniglot.com/language/kinship/index.htm

The particular character I was telling you about has a highly complicated family due to her culture, so I had to draw a genogram to keep track of her family. It isn’t a standard genogram, because I didn’t bother with dotted lines, and I had to break some rules in order to get everything down. (If you can do better, let me know how, & I’ll adjust.) It does, however, allow me to know who’s who and how they’re related, as well as random facts I threw in for my own writing convenience.

But before you look at her family tree, here’s an explanation of genograms in general: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genogram

And a look at the rules used to create them: https://www.genopro.com/genogram/rules/

And now you can scroll back up to my current best attempt at Nia’s scrambled family tree. 🙂

M. C. Lee

© 2018 M. C. Lee LLC. All rights reserved.

 

Favorite Adult Fiction Books

Here are some of my favorite adult fiction books and authors. (And yes, I have enjoyed many, many more books that are listed here. These are my very favorites, for one reason or another.)

In random order:

Fantasy is now moved to its own list

Romance is now moved to its own list

Science Fiction

Diane Duane (also found in YA fantasy) Character-based sci-fi, but with enough science to be fun.

Final Frontier, by Diane Carey This is a Star Trek book, but not related to the movie of the same name. It’s about Captain Kirk’s father in the first (highly classified) encounter with the Romulans that resulted in them inventing the cloaking device. Spoiler: It was Kirk’s fault.

Nor Crystal Tears, and the Flinx series, Alan Dean Foster Character-based sci-fi, because that’s what I like. 🙂 Foster does aliens very well.

Mary Robinette Kowal (yes, she gets around the genres). The Lady Astronaut series, for instance.

Mystery

Donna Andrews Contemporary mystery with humor.

Laurie R. King (imo, the best new Sherlock Holmes series that’s actually about Sherlock) Recent-historical rather than contemporary.

Ellis Peters, medieval mystery

Dorothy Gilman. Ah, Mrs. Pollifax. What would we do without our favorite geriatric spy?

Frank Shaw series, by John D. Brown. This series isn’t finished yet (I hope). Contemporary amateur-sleuth.

Contemporary or Historical

The Diddakoi, by Rumer Godden. Recent-historical. The main character is a child, but this is not YA. When her grandmother dies, the young gypsy must find a home in the regular village.

The Lance of Kanana, by Harry W. French. Historical, Middle East. When people want a story about integrity, this is what I recommend.

A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman. Contemporary. I cried ugly tears. The movie doesn’t do it justice.

Mary Robinette Kowal (yes, she gets around the genres).

Comics (not to be confused with Graphic Novels, which I find difficult to read)

Calvin and Hobbes, by Bill Watterson

Family Circle, by Bil Keane

Enjoy, and feel free to comment if you found something you liked.
M. C. Lee

© 2018 M. C. Lee LLC. All rights reserved.