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Writing Process

Blog entry

Sheena (our fearless leader at The Lesbian Talk Show) was chatting with me on facebook about how I write characters, after the review of Mother of Souls came out at The Lesbian Review (her other project), and it ended up turning into an interview for her series The Write Stuff.

I have a list of blog prompts that people have suggested, and though I always mean to address them first in/first out, usually some other intersection causes one to pop up to the top. In this case, when I mentioned dictating stories during my commute, Sara Uckelman asked: When you dictate, do you write like you talk? Do you edit a lot when transcribing or is it faithful? How much is it "these are the ideas I want to convey" and how much "these are the words I want to convey the ideas with?"

Today I have a reader question from Andrei, who has kindly allowed me to answer in this blog:

I really enjoy your books. Lately I've been reading a history book on pre-Revolutionary France and it noted that the Christian message that was preached to the masses by the post-Reformation Catholic Church was one of a angry God, a God of vengeance and wrath that demanded penitence and misery. This sermon that Yves Michel Marchais delivered to his congregation in Western France in the 1780s is quite illustrative:

Yeah, it's been a while since I've done a writing progress update, isn't it? I confess I've gotten a little knocked off the tracks with respect to blogging in the past month and I keep reminding myself that one of my New Year's Irresolutions was not to beat myself up about that. (Poor Abiel LaForge is sitting there on the front lines waiting for the war to end.) So where are we...?

Except for the book release re-boot series, I haven't been blogging as regularly as I like to. May has been a bit crazy in terms of travel/conventions and work pressures (you know, the job that pays my bills). I've had enough LHMP posts in the can to carry my through (though I need to record a podcast tonight that I haven't finished writing yet! The Civil War diaries have been a dropped ball for the last couple weeks. But I keep plugging away at the first draft of Floodtide, day by day.

Have I done a writing blog lately? I've gotten so random with everything except the LHMP and the LaForge diaries that I'd have to look in the blog roll to see.

My day-to-day writing project is still Floodtide. I'm continuing with the tradition that every book has a slightly different writing process. This one feels a bit like I've circled around back to my process for Daughter of Mystery in that I'm just sort of spilling story onto the page as it comes to me with only a bare outline to guide me.

One of my readers (a fellow writer) gave me a topic that could easily turn into a book rather than just a blog, but I’ll try to keep it concise. They asked if I could talk about techniques I use for implying/showing the development or existence of a romantic relationship between characters without simply having the characters state it outright (perhaps because the characters are still working their heads around it) and without using sexual intimacy/desire (whether because the relationship is non-sexual or simply because that isn’t how I choose to depict it).

I've discused previously how the way that Alpennian characters talk to and about each other, and even what terms the use to think about each other, provides a constant commentary on their relationships and attitudes, whether it's of status, intimacy, or affection. But in some ways, I always had an out in that I was writing in the third person. A very tight third person, to be sure, but if Barbara thought something about the princess and called her simply "Annek" in the privacy of her thoughts, that could be chalked up to shorthand.

In writing the first draft of Floodtide, I sometimes feel like I'm back in the same process as for Daughter of Mystery. I have a general idea of what's going to happen (though not always a clear notion of what order all the events will come in) and I'm just laying down text to see what happens. If I stop to think too much about structure, I get this sneaking suspicion that it's all a horrible mess. So I try to avoid thinking about it at this point.

Given the amount of thought and effort I've put into creating aspects of the Alpennian language, it might seem strange that so little of it appears in the books themselves. Other than proper names, most of what readers have seen have been the occasional technical terms that don't have a simple English equivalent (armin, markein, vizeino). I'm not counting all the Latin terms used for mysteries, of course.

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