Four questions for writers

I was asked to jump into this meme and now I’m going to thanks to Allison Thurman. I’ll return to edit this tomorrow- I need to ask a couple of writers if they’d like to do the same, and then I’ll tag them and keep it going.

Please note I’m writing without air con on a hot evening when I’m tired so… don’t nit-pick the sloppy style, fellow writers. I’m just writing my thoughts off the top of my head, not trying to paint a picture.

What are you currently working on?

I’m developing a novel focused on the loss and rediscovery of a young woman’s personal identity when she becomes a full-time, professional gamer. The backdrop is a loosely defined, near future setting. The primary characters are largely facets of her online persona.

How does your work differ from others in the genre?

Several of the perspectives shown in the chapters are those of people who don’t exist, only living inside an online construct. My heroine, Julia, is largely addicted to her work and is anchored to our reality by her roommates and sister who emotionally support her while she financially keeps them all afloat. Yet many chapters take place inside her worlds where we find she can’t separate reality from fiction.

Of course- while all of her personas are nothing more than the characters she’s invented to cope with reality, even herself Julia is a fictional character I’m writing about.

Why do you write what you do?

The story has been something I’ve thought about for about ten years, but it didn’t really flow the first time. I think I became too caught up in the techy sci-fi research aspect of the story and stopped being driven by the characters. In this tale, there’s more urgency. Inside Julia’s world’s she’s living a Walter Mitty fantasy that’s rocketed her to fame and keeps the cashflow going. Though she cares about her ratings, she cares equally about her sister in the real world and her other sister in a medieval online world. The only way she can keep her emotional connections in check is to put up walls in her mind, and that is going to come back to haunt her fairly quickly.

But to be honest, most of the internal drama has come about organically. I’m definitely pantsing the writing and that’s been a good decision for me. The characters feel like they are better realized by themselves as events present themselves than if I were to orchestrate them.

How does your writing process work?

I have a rough outline in my mind of what I want to see happen, then I write. I research on the fly, then fill in gaps during a second chapter rewrite. I consider each chapter- which I’m calling episodes- to be finite goals. While the story may carry over to a future chapter and require resolution, I prefer to wind the characters up, set them on the stage, and watch what happens when they bump into each other. If anything feels even slightly stilted, I mark it up and and resolve to clean it up.

Chapters needn’t be perfect, but they do need to feel complete before I move on. Consequently, I find I’m writing each chapter as its own project. When one is finished, I’m not in a hurry to start writing the next.

I like long, uninterupted writing periods with good music to keep my mind focused.

If I finish it, this will be my first completed novel in my own name. I’ve ghostwritten four serials that are the equivalent of a novel. That process convinced me it could be done.


About Shawn D. Humphrey

Writer, social media-type worker, bass player, gamer, activist. I read too much about Africa.
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