Tuesday, May 09, 2017

The Writer's Tag

I found this on Hayden Wand's blog, A Singular and Whimsical Problem, and it looked like so much fun that I'm filling it out myself.

1. What genres, styles, and topics do you write about?

For the last few years, I've written mainly westerns, but in the past I've also written a lot of fiction set in WWII, as well as several novels set in modern day.

I like to think of my style as "conversational."

As for topics, I gravitate toward interpersonal conflict a lot, especially within families.  I love exploring family relationships, and I also write about "found families" quite a bit.  I'm also fond of coming-of-age story arcs, as well as people "proving themselves."

Bonus points if you know what movie this is from.

2. How long have you been writing? 

Since I could read.  So since I was 5 or 6.  But I've been actively learning to be a writer since I was fourteen, so twenty-three years now.

3. Why do you write? 

Because God has given me a talent for using words, and I am trying to use that talent in ways that honor and glorify him and also benefit my neighbor.

Also, there are stories in my head that no one else is going to write, and I want to read them, so I have to write them.  Believe me, if there was a way for me to transfer my stories directly from my brain to a book, I would.

4. When is the best time to write?

I write best in the morning, before my brain gets cluttered up with thoughts about the day.  But for the last few years, I do most of my writing at night after my kids are in bed.  It works.

5. Parts of writing you love vs. parts you hate.

Hahaha!  In which Hamlette gets to rant.

Okay, so my favorite thing to write is dialog.  Most of the time, I just have to take dictation.  Characters talk in my head and I write down what they say.  It's glorious.  My fingers fly.  Pages add up with astonishing rapidity.  Give me a good argument where people say all kinds of things, emotions and motives are laid bare, hearts rip and mend and rip again -- fiendishly delightful.

I hate writing action scenes.  Now, if you were paying attention above, you'll have noticed that the two genres I write most are westerns and war.  And action is kind of expected in those two settings.  Lots of actions.  Gunfights and battles and skirmishes and attacks.  Hunting and raiding and patrolling and -- yeah.  And I hate writing action scenes.  I'm not bad at it, because I've had tons of practice, but I don't enjoy it.  And my best friend and writing mentor will tell you I whine about this a lot.

Why do I hate writing action scenes?  Because it takes so blasted long.  I get very frustrated with having to write out who is where doing what, and when and how they do it.  It reads quickly, but it writes sloooowly.

So basically, I'm lazy.

They're headed for trouble, and they know it.  I know it too.
I just don't want to have to write about it!

6. How do you overcome writers block? 

Change the music I'm listening to, that's the first step.  Sometimes, that's all it takes.  If that doesn't work, I play a game of solitaire on my computer -- but only one.  I play a lot of solitaire while writing because something about finding the patterns with part of my brain frees up the other part to see what's happening next or work through a problematic scene, etc.

But I don't tend to get blocked for long.  I might lack motivation, but I can make myself write anyway.  I think what most people call writers block is just an absence of desire to write, and that's something you either have to learn to manufacture or do without.

I don't sit around waiting to feel inspired, because when most of my writing happens at 9:30pm after a long day of parenting and homeschooling and trying to keep the house from being consumed by dirt and messes... I ain't got a lot of inspiration left.  But that's okay.  If I just start putting words down, more words will come.

There's also this.

7. Are you working on something at the moment? 

Of course.  Many things.  I'm nearly finished revising my western Little Red Riding Hood, "Cloaked."  I'll then turn this draft over to my editor and spend a month or so lavishing attention on something else.  I might start afresh on a western that I started earlier and stalled out on.  I might start writing a western Beauty and the Beast.  Haven't decided yet.  I've got three novels and three western fairy tale retellings in my head that are just waiting for me to have time for them.

8. Writing goals this year?

I'm going to independently publish "Cloaked" -- a first for me!!!  Looking at August for the release right now.

I also want to dig into research on the Exoduster migration for my western Snow White.  And I plan to start writing either that or my western Beauty and the Beast -- kind of depends on how long my research takes.

Who shall I tag?  My writer friends who haven't done this already!  Specifically:

Cordy at Write On, Cordy!
DKoren at Sidewalk Crossings
Eva at Coffee, Classics, and Craziness
Heidi at Sharing the Journey

And if you're a writer and haven't done this tag yet, by all means, have at it!


  1. Goodness, yes! The problem with action scenes is that I can never think of enough ways to describe what's going on. It's enough to make me google "list of ways to describe punching someone" ;)

    1. Glad I'm not the only one! It can become beyond tedious. Especially hand-to-hand combat! I have to block it all out in my head and then remember where people are -- sometimes I draw little maps. Sigh.

  2. *nods* I avoid action scenes like the plague. Which works for me--so far at least--because, while I do write about WW2, I don't write about soldiers.

    I don't really get "writer's block" either. I DO get what I guess I would call "imagination block," that is, when I'm trying to work out a new story in my head and for some reason I just can't come up with any good ideas. I can't write without ideas . . . but once I HAVE the ideas, once I have a clear vision, I can almost always make myself write it out.

    1. Jessica, nice that it works for you! My WWII stories have almost all (except 1) been fanfiction for Combat!, which is about infantrymen in Normandy... and yet, just glancing at those 31 fanfic stories, I've managed to write 19 with no action scenes! That might be a record for that fandom, lol.

      I used to get writer's block, but really it was my name for either not feeling like writing, or just not knowing what happened next in my WIP. "Imagination block" does happen to me still, though -- mostly when I've got a story, but it has a hole, or I'm missing some vital piece. I think that really, just learning not to start writing as soon as I have an idea, but to let it percolate and coalesce for a while first has helped my avoid blockage. I do still have days where it just all stalls out, but they are mighty few anymore.

    2. Wow!! You must have gotten VERY inventive with your non-action scenes, then :-)

      That's exactly how it works for me, too. As long as I take enough time to let the story "settle" in my brain and get it all planned out, I don't have any real issues once I sit down to write.

    3. It's my firmly held opinion that fighting is only a teensy bit of war, and soldiers spend the majority of their time NOT fighting, so why not write about that time instead? Hee.

    4. Excellent point. I took a military history seminar last semester and most of it WASN'T about battles at all.

  3. Believe me, if there was a way for me to transfer my stories directly from my brain to a book, I would.

    Yes yes yes. Or brain to a movie. That would work very nicely!

    That screenshot is from Shane, right? I remember the setting.

    And also, now I want to watch LR again.

    Thanks or the tag. I will think about answers for this!

    1. Bing! Bing! Bing! DKoren gets extra points :-)

      Yeah, I've been wanting an LR rewatch for a while now. But no time! No time! Soon, I will have time.

      Have fun with it :-)

  4. Is that screenshot of all the people standing around from...Shane?

    Fun tag! I might do this one, though as I haven't written for quite a while, I'm not sure how accurate some of my answers would be right now. :P


    1. Ten points to Eva! It is indeed from Shane. Those gorgeous mountains take my breath away.

      Have fun with it if you do! Even if you're in a slump, that doesn't mean you're not a writer. Do you need to talk, though? Shoot me an email if you've got writer stuff bugging you.

    2. Where was Shane filmed? 'Cause those mountains are beautiful.

      Oh, I know I'm still a writer. I just don't feel like one sometimes. :P I think my main problem is that I expect my writing to be perfect and awesome when I've had (relatively) little experience, so when I hit a plot snag or something, I don't try to work through it and I end up abandoning the project for at least a few days. Basically, I think I just need more practice - with plotting, with dialogue, with characterization - and the only way I'm going to get it is if I actually *write*. So it's kind of a vicious circle. :P


    3. It was filmed on location just outside Jackson Hole, WY. I believe you can still visit one of the cabins that was used -- not the Starrett cabin, but another one.

      Yup, that all makes sense to me. And you're absolutely right -- practice is necessary! I recently happened upon this quotation from author Shannon Hale, who writes YA fantasy. She said, "I'm writing a first draft and reminding myself that I'm simply shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles." I LOVE THAT. I tell myself that over and over while writing first and even second drafts. I'm just shoveling sand. It's been so freeing!!!

    4. I love it when movies are filmed on location. :) By the way, speaking of WY and westerns, have you ever heard of this place - http://www.thevintagenews.com/2017/04/01/the-hole-in-the-wall-hideout-was-the-favorite-hiding-place-for-the-old-west-outlaw-gangs/?utm_source=penultimate? I might borrow it (or at least the idea of it) for one of my stories.

      Ah, yes, I love that quote as well. It's so perfect!


    5. Eva, me too :-)

      Yup, I've definitely heard of the Hole in the Wall! While I'm not a fan of the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, I've read plenty about the real Butch & Sundance's Wild Bunch, Jesse & Frank James, and so on. I would love to go there one day.

      Paul Newman later in life started a charitable camp for children with serious illnesses like cancer, and their families, and named it the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp. Reading about the Wyoming location always makes me think fondly of the camp too.

  5. I sympathize you on the action scenes. Most of my "action" scenes wind up being a few quick motions for just this reason. What's extra fun is when I'm writing about military maneuvers and...don't have the best idea how war works. Lots of my story ideas involve war, but I do *so much* story twisting to avoid writing about any actual battles.

    And I join you in wishing for a way to transfer stories from brain into book.

    1. Ashley, that's so funny! I do at least have a pretty good grasp of how the US military in 1940 worked... which doesn't help a lot for other time periods, lol. But you know, writing around the war can make you extra creative, maybe?

      Seriously. We need like a hat you could put on, and then you just think all the thinks about the story, and bam! It's written.

  6. With the exception of my movie blog, I don't write much. I publushed a few poems on The Starlite Cafe, though.

    I have a germ of a story in my head. Just a simple two line synopsis, but I have no idea where to go with it. I also have a title for the story.

    1. if you are interested in the poems you can find them on The Starlite Cafe. I either published as WinthropJQuiggy or winthrop_j_quiggy. can't remember which. Just do a search for quiggy I think you'll be avble to find them.

    2. Quiggy, I definitely count blogging as writing too. Many days, that's all the writing I do. I'll have to find your poems at the Starlite Cafe! That's very cool. I used to write a lot of poetry, but haven't done much with it in recent years.


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