What’s in a Writing Process? Here’s Mine + Giveaway

Posted by on Mar 17, 2014 in Blog, Contests & Hops, Writing Tips | 2 comments

becomingjosephinelargeI’ve been tagged! Judith Starkston, author of Hand of Fire (Fireship Press, September 2014) invited me to participate in a blog hop tour to talk about my writing process. Many other authors are doing the same! I’d love to hear about your own process in the comments.

To kick off the hop, I’m giving away three signed copies of BECOMING JOSEPHINE on Goodreads this week. Be sure to ENTER HERE.

Without further ado, my process!

What are you working on?

I just finished revising my novel called RODIN’S LOVER about Camille Claudel–student, collaborator, and lover–to famed sculptor Rodin. It’s set during the Belle Époque, one of my favorite eras in history. There’s so much going on in terms of inventions, women’s rights, changing social structures, and, of course, fashion! I loved the gowns and accessories from this time.


How does your work differ from others of its genre?

I wouldn’t say my novels are what I like to call historicals of the old guard, or rather, hardcore, but more of a marriage of two genres–historical fiction and women’s fiction. I like to emphasize the main character’s inner growth as it pertains to a woman’s view of the world and that element is equal in weight to the importance of the times in which my characters struggle.


Why do you write what you do?

I write about France because it’s a place I adore. (I used to teach it as well.) I like to say America is my home, but France is my country. I’ve felt this way since I was a little girl. I do plan to branch out at some point. My first novel takes place during the French Revolution, but as I mentioned above, my next novel (and the one after that) is set during 1880’s Paris. To me, the character and their struggles are more important than writing only about one time period.

In terms of women’s themes, I emphasize them because I’m fascinated by growth and the way the struggles in our lives trigger big changes within. The last component, of course, is my preoccupation with the ways people lived in the past, how their environment shaped them, and how passé social norms created situations we would never face today.


How does your writing process work?

I’ve only written two novels so I suspect I’ll learn more about my process as I continue writing. But the first thing I do is fall in love with a topic, or, more accurately, a character.  From there I write a pitch. This seems odd to some, but writing a pitch really helps me hone in on what the point of my book will be. It changes slightly over time, but not by much. Next, I spend months researching biographies, primary sources, documentaries, traveling, etc. While I’m researching, I also draw up character maps and a historical outline. As scenes start popping into my head, I work on a scene outline as well, placing general ideas of scenes in one of the three acts. I really prefer a three act structure, myself. It makes sense in my head. Technically, much of this happens at the same time and I have many documents going at once.

Once my outlines are complete, I write my first draft. I don’t allow myself to edit at all until I’ve finished the novel. Once the first draft is wrapped up, I work in stages, focusing on certain issues in each draft. For example, draft two I make sure every scene has some sort of tension and a goal. It’s probably my heaviest rewriting phases. Draft three, I print out the entire manuscript on paper and work on voice and dialogue to ensure my characters are distinctive rather than all sounding the same. Draft four I edit for language, fluidity and pacing. Draft five I focus on deepening the emotional selves of my characters and the characters’ arcs. Often, draft six is a final sweep, and once again, printed out on paper, before my beta readers get a hold of it and  give me what for!



Be sure to hop to the next stops at these authors’ blogs!

delilahDelilah Dawson, author of edgy books for teens and also dark romance for adults including SERVANTS OF THE STORM, The Wicked (Blud) series, and CARNIEPUNK. Beyond her fiction writing, she is an Associate Editor at Cool Mom Picks and Cool Mom Tech and can teach you to wear a baby on your back so you can pretend to be Luke Skywalker toting Yoda.

Delilah will chat about her process on March 24th. Find her HERE





Lisa aLisa Alber, debut mystery author of  KILMOON, releasing tomorrow! She received an Elizabeth George Foundation writing grant based on Kilmoon, A County Clare Mystery in addition to a Walden Fellowship. Her short story “Paddy O’Grady’s Thigh” appeared in Two of the Deadliest(HarperCollins), an anthology edited by New York Times bestseller Elizabeth George. In addition, Lisa was nominated for a Pushcart Prize for the story “Eileen and the Rock.”

Lisa will chat about her process on March 24th as well. Find her HERE



Join the conversation and post a comment.

  1. Lisa Alber

    Woohoo, thanks, Heather!

    I already can’t wait for RODIN’S LOVER!

  2. Heather Webb

    Thanks, Lisa. I’m so psyched to see where Merrit is headed next!

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