Blog Hopping: What’s in a Writing Process?

A week ago KILMOON launched into the world! Man, what a week I had. I’ll tell you more about it later. Meanwhile, I’ve been tagged in a blog hop! I was supposed to post yesterday, but I took a day off from everything. I read. I slept. I dozed, napped, slumbered. You name the kind of sleep, and I definitely partook.

Thank you, Heather Webb, for tagging me! Her debut BECOMING JOSEPHINE came out to all kinds of acclaim and buzz. Be sure to check it out!

Each week, a couple of authors will be talking about their writing processes. Please see the bottom of this post for next week’s hoppers. Meanwhile, here’s my process! Please feel free to ask me questions in the comments.

What are you working on?

I’m revising the second draft of the next novel in the County Clare mystery series. I’m calling it GREY MAN. I have a feeling the title will change, as titles do. I have two primary series protagonists: Merrit and Danny. KILMOON was Merrit’s story. GREY MAN is Danny’s story. He’s a detective sergeant. In this novel, Danny’s investigation into the death of a teenage boy leads to tragedy in his own family. I’m having fun deepening Danny’s character. I kind of have a crush on him!

How does your work differ from others of its genre?

My novels are traditional mysteries (but not cozy mysteries). I’d say the way they differ is that I concentrate on character rather than, say, the police procedural aspect of the plot. I use ensemble casts, and all the characters have their own narratives, whether they’re major arcs like Danny’s and Merrit’s arcs, or minor arcs. I’m attracted to secrets and the way the past impacts the present, so my stories tend to be layered. In fact, I’d say my novels are mainstream novels that revolve around several layers of mysteries.

Why do you write what you do?

I’m a private, perhaps even secretive, person, and I love psychology — the dark side of what makes us human. I’m fascinated by what we hide. We’re all supposed to present well-adjusted facades to the world, but, man, what lurks inside even a “normal” (hmm…some might argue…) person like me would shock some people. So, if I have lots of dark stuff within me, what about those of us who actually don’t have a moral compass? What about the sociopaths? Most of all, what about the people who are basically good but are compelled by extreme stress to kill another person? Crime fiction is the perfect vehicle for delving into our humanity.

How does you writing process work?

I start with the characters. I have a detailed questionaire I go through to help me get to know my characters. The analyses suggest plot points and subplots. Since I know my main series characters well already, for GREY MAN I spent time on the new characters. It’s fun, and, I swear, they do take on lives of their own!

My first drafts are big, unwieldly messes. I usually need to work on plot rather than character development, and with mystery this involves clues, setups, red herrings, and other story aspects that non-mystery novelists don’t have to worry about. It gets complicated. So I spend a couple of drafts ironing out plot. Then, I go through and cut, cut, cut, because I overwrite my first drafts. It’s a rather organic process since I don’t do formal outlines. During the final drafts, I’m work on prose, consistency, continuity, and flow.


Be sure to hop to the next stops at these authors’ blogs! Their posts will appear Monday, March 31st.

13H-Lori-Rader-Day-150x150Lori Rader-Day is the author of The Black Hour (Seventh Street Books, July), a mystery set on a university campus in Illinois. Lori works on a university campus in Illinois, but not the made-up one. Best-selling author Jodi Picoult chose Lori’s story for Good Housekeeping’s first short story contest in 2010. Lori is also the recipient of the Chris O’Malley Prize in Fiction from The Madison Review, and has had stories published by TimeOut ChicagoCrab Orchard Review, and others. Find her HERE.


13H-Natalia-Sylvester-143x150Natalia Sylvester is the author of Chasing the Sun (New Harvest/Amazon Publishing, June), a novel loosely based on family events. Born in Lima, Peru, Natalia Sylvester came to the U.S. at age four and grew up in South Florida, where she received a B.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Miami. A former magazine editor, she now works as a freelance journalist and copywriter. Her articles have appeared in LatinaWriter’s Digest, and The Writer magazines. Find her HERE.

5 thoughts on “Blog Hopping: What’s in a Writing Process?

  1. It’s interesting to hear about the relationship between the books in your series, That’s an unusual approach — focusing on different characters. And I really liked your thoughts about the sociopaths and the “normal: people who get driven into murder somehow. And all the ones who are somewhere in between.

    I liked these questions when I saw them on another blog, so I swiped the (even though I wasn’t tagged):

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