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Writers on Writing

My fellow Sourcebooks author Nancy J. Cavanaugh tagged me in this fun blog-hop tour about the writing process. You can check our her post on writing here! And I’m tagging Jessica Love, whose debut PUSH GIRL releases in June, and the very talented Katy Upperman. Their posts will go up next Monday, May 5.

On with the tour!

What are you currently writing?

I have a few things in the works–all MG projects. One I’m revising (eternally, it sometimes seems) and another for which I’m working on an outline. I’m trying to write a fairly detailed outline, which is not something I have done in the past. Usually, I start drafting with an outline of about 1,500 words–enough to see the overall story, but not individual scenes. This time, I’m trying to figure out the plot a little more before I start. I’m sure the story will change as I write, though–it always does!

What makes your work different?

I am a genre-mixer: I can’t stop combining historical and contemporary fiction. I love exploring the relationship of past and present, and I’m drawn to characters who are the same. In When Audrey Met Alice, contemporary First Daughter Audrey discovers Alice Roosevelt’s wild life through reading a diary, and much like Audrey, I love discovering the complex stories of real historical figures through books. I’m fascinated by famous and historical settings, too–like the White House and the Lost Colony of Roanoke.

I don’t want to generalize too much about historical fiction, but I do think that a lot of books in that genre have a more serious tone. I tend to write slightly humorous voices, which I think is another thing that makes my work unique.

Why do you write what you do?

They’re all an answer to the same question, “What book would you have wanted to read ?” Most of my stories start from me thinking about what I was interested in as a middle-grade reader, like First Kids and mysterious disappearances and science and strong, inspiring women.  Especially because I tend to do a lot of research for my books–I better have a healthy interest in what I’m writing about!

What is your writing process?

First, I come up with the concept, which sometimes takes days, weeks, or months of brainstorming and lots of long walks/runs to work out the heart of the story. Then, I write an outline. After I have an outline, I do baseline research–enough that I can work out the plot and characters, but not so much that I get bogged down in details. (Otherwise, I’d never get to drafting–there are too many rabbit holes to fall down!) I write a first draft, slowly. I stop to do more research as needed along the way. Once I have a first draft, I put it away for a while–at least a few weeks. While drafting, I probably realized that I needed to explore certain topics much more in depth–so yes, there is even more research at this point. And then the revising starts–many, many rounds. Whoever said that “writing is editing” was right! The first draft is just a sketch; the shading and color and detail all comes later on, building slowly with each round.

Tell me, what’s your writing process like?


8 Responses to Writers on Writing

  1. This was so much fun to read, Rebecca! I love learning about how other writers do their thing, and I’m incredibly intrigued by the Roanoke project you mentioned. Sounds fascinating. And thanks so much for the tag… I’m looking forward to posting next week. 🙂

  2. You’re so right about research rabbit holes! Wikipedia especially can become one giant black hole of fun/time-wasting research, haha…

    I don’t think I’ve quite worked out a regular process yet… I’ve tried it a few different ways. The one thing I consistently love to do though is to make a detailed outline on notecards so I can set out the story visually and rearrange elements. That’s so much fun and it usually helps me see where pieces are missing or in the wrong spot.

  3. Jessica Love says:

    Thanks for the tag, Rebecca! I am also FASCINATED by Roanaoke…I have been since I was a little kid. If you are writing about that next, I am SO on board, I can’t even tell you.

  4. […] week Rebecca Behrens blogged about her writing process and tagged me with a request to post answers to the same questions. I had so much fun reading […]

  5. I loved reading about your process! I’m glad you enjoy writing fictional stories that incorporate history, because I enjoy reading historical fiction. 🙂 I need to do a bit of research for my latest WIP. I wrote the draft using some research, but I need to do some more before revising. I’m looking forward to it, because it’s such an interesting topic. Good luck with all of your projects!

  6. I love reading about your process—it’s so similar to mine. And I hope you’re writing about Roanoke! I’ve always been interested in that.