Stephanie Stamm, author of A Gift of Wings and A Gift of Shadows, recently challenged me to come up with seven things I love about being an author. I’d never thought about why I loved writing before, it had always just been a given. But in the effort of meeting the challenge, here are the seven things that jumped to the top of my list.
There is an element of worldbuilding in every novel, whether it is genre fiction or non-fiction. In my own writing, worldbuilding is the single most time-consuming part of the process. I write predominantly Epic Fantasy, and if you’ve read any of the premiere novels in the field, you’ll understand why it takes so long. In non-fiction, worldbuilding is simple, because most of the hard work is already established. The Earth rotates at a certain speed, seasons and tides are well-established, and time is a known concept. In Fantasy, you can keep or change any of these things however you see fit, but as a subscriber to Sanderson’s Laws of Magic, I tend to take a scientific approach to my fantastic worlds. I love digging into the details, such as calendars, religions, cultural interactions, beliefs, history, rules and requirements of magic, economic implications of that magic, and on, and on. Most of it never makes it into the books, but that’s okay with me. I feel that it helps make the world more alive to readers.
2. Character Development
Dungeons and Dragons was contraband at my house when I was growing up, but I still loved it. I didn’t have a lot of friends that were interested in playing though, and if I did, we managed to keep it hidden from each other. Instead, I spent hours rolling dice, assigning attributes, and crafting backstories. I’m both ashamed and delighted to say that this behavior has carried into my writing.
Motivation is so important for characters. Every character, even side characters, should have a reason for being involved in the story being told, whether that character is important to the climax or not. Nothing throws a reader out of the story as quickly as a character with thin motivation. Coming up with interesting and unique reasons why these particular characters–with all their quirks, strengths, and flaws, interacting and telling an interesting story–is so much fun! It’s especially exciting when characters are actively working against each other. I have written a couple of villains that I absolutely adore and can’t wait to share them with the world.
3. Fight Scenes
I love writing fight scenes! Who doesn’t? Next!
Oh, more detail? Very rarely do I actually see the words in my mind as I’m writing creatively. Instead, I see action, like a movie, playing through my mind. The words on the page are a way to convey the moves I’m seeing in my head into the reader’s imagine. And as a fan of action movies, video games, and anime, I like my battles big and dramatic. If I was writing literary fiction, a fight like that would likely be too over-the-top, but I don’t write literary fiction. Part of the reason why I write Epic Fantasy is so I can put crazy battles in my stories. Battles with magic, martial arts, dragons, and mother effin’ wizards.
I’m such a nerd, but I think writing workshops are great fun. I will take any opportunity to learn more about writing techniques, publishing requirements, and better methods for approaching editing. I lump podcasts in with this category as well, and I often listen to Writing Excuses or Novel Marketing when working around the house. I don’t think there’s much more I can say about this without convincing everyone who reads this that I am certifiable.
Conventions are different than writing workshops in that they’re less about learning technical skills and more about connecting with people. I’m an introvert, albeit a very extroverted one, and conventions are a great way to meet people interested in the same subjects as I am. They’re also a great way be exposed to novels and authors I might not have otherwise considered.
It seems silly to mention reading in the same discussion as writing, but I think reading is a very important part of writing. I love seeing what other authors are up to, what great stories they’re weaving, and stepping out of my world and into others is necessary to ground me and inspire me. It helps that it’s also quite enjoyable.
7. Writing Groups
I am, like so many other authors I have spoken to, a bit insecure about my writing. I started submitting my work to various readers and writing groups at the behest of my wife, and I was stunned at the result. I submitted originally because I wanted feedback, but what I found was community. Groups of like-minded people with whom I could discuss what I was trying to accomplish and how it did or didn’t work. I’ve been extremely lucky that the people that I have met and asked to review my work have been critical without being condescending.
So that’s it, seven things I love about writing. If hard pressed, I’m sure I could come up with a few more, but because the challenge was for seven, I think I’ll stop there. I don’t need people accusing me of being an overachiever.
action, like a movie, playing through my mind. The words on the page are a way to convey the moves I’m seeing in my head into the reader’s imagine. And as a fan of action movies, video games, and anime, I like my battles big and dramatic. If I was writing literary fiction, a fight like that would likely be too over-the-top, but I don’t write literary fiction. Part of the reason why I write Epic Fantasy is so I can put crazy battles in my stories. Battles with magic, martial arts, dragons, and mother effin’ wizards.
- My Story