I’ve never participated in Cait & Sky’s Beautiful People link-ups, but I couldn’t resist this month’s Beautiful Books because it correlates so perfectly with NaNoWriMo.
Speaking of which, just to clarify, I’m doing this for my current NaNo novel, tentatively titled Of Strawberries and Socrates. I’ll probably change it, so if you’re inwardly (or outwardly) snickering at how lame or weird it sounds, well, you won’t be snickering for long.
Finally, the questions. Are you excited? I am. Let’s go!
Is the book turning out how you thought it would be, or is it defying your expectations?
It’s definitely defying my expectations, which is a good thing. When I first started writing it, I hated it. I hated my main character, her voice, my own writing, the plot, all of it. I stopped writing it at chapter three and only came back to it when I resolved to enter NaNo last week. Since then, I’ve come to really enjoy all aspects of it. I’ve realized that just because the writing style and the protagnoist are different from me or what I’m used to doesn’t make them bad. They’re actually more enjoyable that way.
What’s your first sentence (or paragraph)?
The letter arrives the day before I leave.
~ Of Strawberries and Socrates
Speaking of first lines, this is so true:
Are you a plotter or a pantser? Have you ever tried both methods and how did it turn out?
I’m rather in the middle—that’s what they call a plottser, right? Or do you spell it plotser? Plotser looks better, but plottser follows the form of plotter …
Anyway. Excusing the nerdy spelling rambling. I had way more of an outline last year for Paperless, and I think that worked out a bit better, because I didn’t have to spend so much writing time worrying about the details or what was going to happen next. I’ve never been a true pantser—this year is the closest I’ve come to it, and even then I had a bunch of notes and a rough outline for the first few chapters. However, I’ve found that I do like that less of an outline frees me up to explore more and let my characters dictate what’s happening. There’s a balance, I believe, and I’m slowly fine-tuning it each time I start another book.
What do you reward yourself with after meeting a goal?
Um. I don’t? I think I’ve said before that rewards don’t really work for me—I find enough motivation from the satisfaction of seeing the numbers rise and the pages add up. I have heard that it’s still a good idea to reward yourself for really big things, like winning NaNo or finishing a book, so maybe I’ll have to put more thought into that.
What do you look for in a name? Do you have themes and where do you find your names?
Names. Ah, I love ’em. I used to use names that only had special meanings for the character. I still do that occasionally—my main characters in Paperless all have names with significant meanings—but for this book, I focused more on how the names sound and the connotations they carry. It honestly depends on the book and the character. As for where I find names, I like baby name books and websites if I’m looking for a name of a certain ethnicity or with a certain meaning. (You should see librarian’s faces when I check out baby name books.) Sometimes I’ll just ask people to give me a name that fits certain criteria—for instance, a name that is traditional but doesn’t sound too girly, or a boy name that makes you think of a macho dude. In fact, my dad suggested the name for Of Strawberries and Socrates‘ protagonist.
What is your favourite to write: beginning, middle, or end — and why?
Hmmm. I think most people would agree with me that middle is hardest, but I do enjoy exploring character growth, backstories, and relationships in it. The beginning always feels fresh and exciting, but it’s also usually the worst-written for me, primarily because I’m still getting the feel of the style and character. So that leaves me with the end, and it probably is my favorite to write. Strangely, I always know the climax and end scene of the book before I start to write the book. They’re the two things that always come to mind first. I write the whole book, looking forward to those scenes that I’ve been thinking about for months. It’s so exciting to finally write them and wrap everything up and find that perfect ending scene that is realistic yet satisfying.
Who’s your current favourite character in your novel?
I love Steph, the main character. She’s very different than I, which I’m really happy about. My past two protagonists have basically been Abby clones, which annoyed me. I’m also enjoying Todd, whose personality has most of the strengths mine lacks.
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?!)
Maine. Everything Maine—weather, topography, wildlife, etc. Some things about Texas.I still need to look into airports and immigration and stuff-I-can’t-tell-you-guys-because-spoilers. Primarily berry farming. Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and all about them. Also, lunar farming and alternative farming methods. Right now, I’ve relied purely on google, but if this book ends up being something I want to publish, I’ll probably have to talk to people in person who have lived what I’m writing about.
Do you write better alone or with others? Do you share your work or prefer to keep it to yourself?
I write better with others—warring with them, keeping tabs on their work, knowing that there’s a community cheering me on and tackling the same hard stuff. However, I don’t really like to share my work. There are certain scenes that I don’t mind sharing, and certain people I don’t mind sharing them with, but I’m usually really private about my books.
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 really dislike eating while writing, but if I do need some pre-writing fortification, I’ll grab a bunch of cashews before sitting down at the computer. Why cashews? Because they’re awesome, of course.
• Listening to music is a dilemma for me—some say it hurts your writing, some say it helps, and I’ve personally found both to be true. Depending on my mood and if there are others around me, I’ll listen to some instrumental-only stuff. Otherwise, I let the silence envelope me.
• I usually work best in the morning, but I can never write then because other things (math, anyone?) take priority. I work worst in the middle of the day, so I usually end up writing at night, which has been working great, to my surprise.
How is NaNo going for everyone (or, if you’re not doing NaNo itself, how is your writing life going?)?
Oh yes, and Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!