Today, I’m participating in the “My Writing Process” Blog Tour. It’s a sort of chain mail amongst scribes; the tour rolled out in January, and will conclude by next week.
I was invited to play by Henry Sheppard, aka the Adelaide Screenwriter. Henry’s tour commenced last week; he wrote with great eloquence about the publication of his novel Play the Devil , as well as writing for the screen, large and small.
Long story short, the blog tour asks its participants four questions about their writing process. I’ll turn my tour over to another writer, who will conclude this adventure in story, publishing her blog on June 15.
1. What are you working on? I’m working on what is certainly the most challenging piece I have come up against. It’s a dark fantasy piece, set in the world of child abduction and sex-trafficking, a bit of a down-the-rabbit-hole journey for one girl. It’s a mentally, spiritually, and emotionally taxing piece to commit to. I plan to go into production with it in early winter or spring.
2. How does your work differ from others? Hmmm. That’s a loaded question. I could be cagey and say that everyone’s voice is uniquely their own, but… I’m influenced by classic literature, and reference mythology in my stories. Shakespeare influences me, as do Joyce, Homer and Austen. So there’s a certain sensibility that my characters carry around with them, regardless of their station in life. And, as I’ve noted before, the majority of my stories share the common thread of redemption.
3. How does your writing process work? Process is so interesting to me, because it combines moments of great inspiration with what is seemingly banal organizational work. Stories usually come to me in dreams – I’ll dream of a character. Tom, my hero of EDEN, appeared in a dream I had while working on a completely different story. I was standing in a barren field. It was just after dawn; a heavy fog blanketed the land around me. A movement caught my eye; it was a man. He carried a rifle against his right shoulder, and a string of pheasants dangled from his right arm… and as he moved closer to me, I realized that his left arm ended just below the shoulder. And so, it began… The same for They Live Among Us; Caim appeared in a dream.
So, I start with a spark from my muse, and then begin the hard work of beating out the story, getting the structure sound. I use my Save the Cat! training for this; it’s a great system that allows me to lay the story out. I put it up on my board, and work it there for months before I type FADE IN. I find it is much easier to discard a note card than it is to cut out five pages of work. By the time I am ready to go to script, I have anywhere from 60 to 100+ story “beats.”
For my new project, I’m trying something different. I’m using the same process… but I’m beating out the story in images as opposed to words. I was inspired by Guillermo del Toro’s journals for PAN’S LABYRINTH, and as this new project is a dark fairytale, I decided to play with this technique.
4. Why do you write what you do? Honestly, I have no idea. My work reflects the muse that I was dealt.
I’ve always been a storyteller; I published my first short story when I was 11, and made my first film at 14. My father was a huge fan of the cinema; I remember being taken to see Fritz Lang’s METROPOLIS when I was 9. It blew me away; I never knew that film could be “that.”
When I was 13, I was injured in a horseback riding accident, and had to spend quite a bit of time in bed. I had blown through my entire Nancy Drew collection, and was bored out of my skull. In what I believe was an act of desperation, my mother dropped The Complete Works of William Shakespeare on my bed, along with Homer’s Odyssey. I was hooked.
A couple of years later, I stumbled across Stephen King’s The Stand. I firmly believe that King is one of the greatest writers in modern literature, regardless of genre. He just happens to write about things that go bump in the night.
As stated earlier, I find that redemption tends to pop up as a theme in a lot of my work; I also play with the theme of duality. The two faces of Juno that reside within us all, and also, the perception of truth, and reality. What is real… and what isn’t… and what may be.
Join the final stop on the blog tour on June 15 with playwright, screenwriter, novelist, poet, and self-described “redhead born in a blond-headed body” Sandra de Helen at her blog site Red Crested Chatter.