My buddy and fellow Texas author Nat Russo recently invited me to participate in this author blog tour about the writing process. Nat just published his first novel Necromancer Awakening last month and became an instant success on Amazon, hitting four bestseller lists in just a few short weeks. So, if you enjoy a good dark fantasy read, be sure to visit Nat’s website and grab a copy of Necromancer Awakening for your Kindle.
So, what exactly is The Writing Process Blog Tour? It’s pretty straightforward and simple actually. Each author who is invited to participate in the blog tour answers four questions about the writing process. The author then introduces three other authors. The idea is to help readers discover other authors that they may not have known about otherwise.
So, without further a doo-doo, read on to learn a little bit about what makes my writing gears turn . . .
What am I working on?
My initial intention was to write Devil’s Nightmare—my first stab at a horror novel—and then move on to another project. However, after getting a number of requests for a sequel through social media, I decided why the heck not? So, I put my other project aside and began working on Devil’s Nightmare: Premonitions. I wrote the first book from the perspective of my protagonist Detective Aaron Sanders, but Premonitions is in third-person in order for the readers to get a broader picture of the story. This will also allow for readers to “get to know” a few of my other characters a little better.
I have actually found writing in third person a welcomed challenge compared to writing in first person, which is a bit easier for me, because in that style I get to experience the story through my protagonist’s eyes, as does the reader. With third-person writing, it’s almost like stepping back and watching a movie play out in my head. There is a lot more going on that I need to keep up with than just following one main character’s journey. There is still a main protagonist, but in this style of writing I get to reveal more about other characters that I am unable to do in the first-person style. I think it’s going to make Devil’s Nightmare: Premonitions an even better novel because of it. Premonitions is slated for an October, 2014 release.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
The short answer . . .
My novels don’t have zombies, vampires, or werewolves in them (although, lycanthropy is definitely something I want to explore further).
Now for the long answer . . .
When I decided to start writing in the horror genre I never thought about how my work would be different than others. I simply wanted to pull the crazy ideas out of my head, get them typed up on screen, and hopefully develop interesting and creepy tales that others would find entertaining as much as I enjoy writing them (and hopefully come back for more). I have had people compare my work to other authors in the horror genre, which I find flattering, but for me it’s all about having fun and sharing my stories with the world. Some readers have also mentioned that my horror writing seems clichéd at times, while others pointed out that it’s a bit difficult not to have some clichés in any horror writing. If you really think about it, most horror novels or movies borrow the same concepts from ages past, but then put a twist or some other unique flavor to it in order to make it their own. With that said, if you read Devil’s Nightmare, you’ll probably point out some of those familiar plot points, but I believe it worked out based on the majority of reviewers having positive things to say about the novel.
When it comes to this genre, my writing is more of a blend of horror, thriller, suspense, mystery, and some drama . . . but the overall theme is horror. Come to think of it, there is one other thing that I think sets me apart from others in the modern horror genre. I’m a risk taker when it comes to certain elements of the horror stories that I’m writing. It will probably remind you of some of the 80s style of horror, which may or may not work for you. This topic brings me to the next question.
Why do I write what I do?
The horror genre is my absolute favorite, whether it is on film or in print. I enjoy watching the classic hack-and-slash campy horror flicks such as Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street; monster-themed horror flicks such as The Relic and American Werewolf in London, and classic horror tales like Cujo and Jaws, which is a particularly special kind of horror because the stories are built around believable scenarios.
I think the horror genre is starting to make a comeback, particularly in the paranormal arena (and yes, the vampires too). This is something I don’t think we’ve seen since the 70s and 80s. My reason for writing in the horror genre goes much further than simply tapping into a genre that is growing in popularity. In my opinion, that is the worst reason to write in any genre. I feel that you should have a special passion for the genre you are writing in, not just because of thinking you could syphon a quick buck from doing it. If that was the case for me, I’d be writing romance . . . and trust me, you don’t want me writing romance novels. My main character’s poor excuse of flirting skills in Devil’s Nightmare should be all the evidence you need for that. :-)
Aside from it being my favorite genre, I chose to write horror because I personally want to read more stories that I enjoyed reading and watching when I was a growing up. Now, does this mean my target audience is the teen/young adult demographic? Who knows? Could be, but probably not. My goal is to offer stories that will remind readers of the cult classic horror stories but with a modern setting. I also hope to help introduce the genre to people who may not have tried it before, and according to a few reviews, I have succeeded in bringing at least a few new readers into the dark side of horror. :-)
The horror genre isn’t for everyone, though. I understand that, so instead of filling my stories with a bunch of blood, guts, sex, and f-bombs, I try to balance the story out enough to where newcomers to the genre can enjoy it and maybe come back for more. For those that live for horror, I hope to deliver what they expect in a good creepy tale. And if not, well, I’m okay with that too, because as I long as I’m having fun writing, it’s all good to me.
How does my writing process work?
First of all, before I begin writing my novel I write a summary of what my story is going to be about. This may be several pages long or just a few paragraphs, but what it absolutely must have is a beginning and an end. I have to know how the story is going to end before I begin writing, but I usually do not use an outline. I’m a “pantser” in that I give my characters the reins and buckle up. This is how I wrote Devil’s Nightmare, and it was one hell of a ride. It was probably one of the most enjoyable experiences I have ever had with any project I have ever been involved with. Even though I knew what was going to happen at the end of the story, I had no idea how I was going to get there. I gave my protagonist a problem and joined him in his attempt to solve it. I believe writing without an outline is one of the main reasons why I have had so many readers tell me that they couldn’t figure out “who the bad guy was” or “how the story was going to end.” That’s because at those same moments, neither did I. :-)
Now there is a challenge to writing without an outline. The fact that I do not have a road map to get to my final destination I can easily find myself sitting in front of my computer staring at a blank screen, and that happens often. That’s when I have to step away from the manuscript and try to put myself in my character’s shoes. What would he do in this situation? Or what twist could I throw in at this point to make my characters hate me even more? At that point, I rub my hands together with an evil grin and start typing again, often until five or six o’clock in the morning.
One important thing that I do when I write my first draft of any story is not worry too much about the details. The purpose of writing the first draft is getting the story itself on paper, or I should say on screen in my case. I consider my first draft as a skeleton with all the major organs, but not necessarily all of the muscle and skin intact. That’s where the second draft comes into play, which is where I am currently with Devil’s Nightmare: Premonitions. This process is a bit different than what Stephen King mentions in his book On Writing, which I highly recommend that every writer should read. King says that the second draft should be the first draft minus ten percent. Well, I try to follow a lot his advice, but this one I fail at miserably. It’s more like the second draft equals the first draft plus twenty percent. I guess my first draft is kind of an outline in that sense, but not really.
Anyway, writing a novel is a lot of work. I can take anywhere from a few months to a few years from start to finish. Devil’s Nightmare took me just over a year, and Premonitions will probably be closer to the eighteen month range. There is a lot to consider when you decide to write a novel, because the process requires several steps from brainstorming, outlining (if you choose to use one), writing the drafts, sending off the manuscript to beta readers, editing, rewrites, formatting, cover design, and finally publication. Oh, and then there is the whole marketing thing. Click the publish button and just kick back and wait for all those royalties to show up in the bank account, right? Buzz! Wrong! It doesn’t work that way.
The last step in the writing process is the hardest and lengthiest of them all. This is something that I’m still trying to figure out. One thing is for certain, though . . . it requires a good chunk of your time and a bit of luck before people begin to discover your work. Some people get lucky and become instant successes, others start seeing sales months after publication, and some give up right away when they don’t become best sellers within the first month of publication. It takes a lot of patience, dedication, and belief in yourself as an author to reach the level of success that you choose.
Success is defined in many different ways depending on the individual. To me it’s not about the money (although, royalty checks are a nice bonus), it’s about doing what I love most, and that is tapping into that imagination that we’re all born with, and turning it into something that I can share with others. Many enjoy what I write (which is a huge reward in itself) and some have very vocally expressed their hatred towards my writing too. That goes with the territory. At first it bothered me. Now, it just fuels my passion to continue writing and strive to improve my craft.
Final thoughts . . .
Thank you for taking the time to read about my writing process. Now, it’s time to pass the torch on to three other writers. Be sure to subscribe to their blogs to learn more about them and their writing process. First, I send you to my friend from “down under” the lovely and talented Aral Bereux.
Aral Bereux, www.aralbereux.com
“I write so I can visit places that don’t exist, meet people who were never born, and experience life as though it were new again.”
– Aral Bereux
Aral Bereux is the author of the international best seller on Amazon, The Julianna Rae Chronicles, available from Barnes & Noble, Angus & Robertson, GoodReads and more. She is also the creator and indie artist advocate for #indiecorner, supporting all walks of independent artistry on her webpage. In her debut dystopian fiction, she outlines the potential of a New World Order and the destructive forces that may await us. Borrowing from the urban fantasy genre, she hopes to soften the blow with the additional suspended reality. But be cautious of her world…this is no scant series of urban/dystopian fiction…her mythical watchers are watching, but then so is Big Brother…and you may very well leave the finished books with a touch of paranoia (or as she likes to refer to it – “dystopias”)
Bereux has studied at university for over 12 years and has worked in a maximum security men’s prison during that time. She theorizes on conspiracy thought; debunks paranormal activity during ghost hunts (but believes in the boogyman); and strives for the truth when the Illuminati and New World Order are mentioned (who would’ve thought?). She draws on her life experiences to write and publish books; and is currently delving into the new world of developing script for gaming applications.
Next up, is a newborn writer in her own words, Marilyn Parel . . .
Marilyn Parel, www.OnBecomingAWriter.com
OnBecomingAWriter.com is my writing space. I’ve written much over the years, but never published. I’m not good at fiction, but enjoy composing short stories, poetry, and the occasional satirical essay. I’ll use this space to park my work.
I always start out being serious about a subject but, somehow, my little mind takes twists and turns and the serious ends up being the humorous; at times, even sounding exaggerated. I can assure you, however, that what I write is based in truth, no matter how preposterous it sounds.
In my previous life, I was a kindergarten teacher. The classroom, of course, provided me a wealth of material for my writing, as did the ancillary characters who helped hone my humor. Prior to that, I wrote marketing and communication plans for major corporations, including crises communications, which I found hilarious (in a good way.)
I enjoy running, good food, good wine, good company, and music.
And last, but certainly not least, I send you to my Canadian “birthday twin” author Sheilagh Lee.
Sheilagh Lee, http://sheilaghlee.blogspot.ca
Sheilagh Lee was born and raised mostly in London, Ontario, Canada. She is the mother of two grown daughters and happily married. She loves a good story and loves to read. You might see her out and about, watching people, or maybe just talking to people. Growing up she feasted on tales of family history, and other imaginative stories; as her family continued the long tradition of passing on stories orally. Those tales and more of her own itch to be told; so she has put pen to paper and fingers to computer to get them all down.
Robert “Sharky” Pruneda is author of the Amazon Kindle bestselling horror novel Devil’s Nightmare and the contemporary family motor sports drama Pursuit of a Dream (Victory Lane: The Chronicles). He lives in south Texas and has called the Lone Star State his home all of his life. Pruneda is also very active in social media and an avid gamer who can often be found fighting side-by-side with friends on his favorite first-person shooter . . . but he prefers survival horror.
You can follow Robert on Twitter @SharkbaitWrites and on Facebook at http://Facebook.com/AuthorRobertPruneda.
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