How do you begin a new project? Are you a plotter (outliner) or a pantser (free-writer)?
I consider myself a modified pantser. My standard response is to invoke the old TripTiks that you used to be able to get from AAA (back in the pre-GPS days). Each page would have a city at the top and bottom and a suggested route highlighted for you. It still showed the alternate routes, so if you wanted to take a detour and see the biggest ball of yarn or the Mystery Spot, you could. That’s pretty much the way I plot. I have a list of the major beats of the story, but I let the story itself tell me how to get in between them.
That being said, my next work requires quite a bit more planning than usual. In fact, it required so much that I ended up using a flowchart program. If you have to plot, this is the way to do it.
Have you ever tried writing outside of your “comfort zone”? If so, what were the results?
I have written in a number of genres, but it tends to lean towards the darker side. While I haven’t strayed into the happy and light territory, I have written romance and erotica under a pen name. It was a bit odd at first, but not nearly as odd as I thought it would be.
Are the names of the characters in your writing important? What about the titles? How do you choose them?
Character names are very important. In fact, they are often insights into the nature of the character. There are a number of great websites which I use to look up the meanings of various names. Major characters get names that describe one of their defining characteristics. For other characters, I combine first and last names that were popular at the time. Wayne County has a great website listing death dates which is great for name mining.
Which three authors (alive or dead) would you most like invite to a dinner party and what would you like to talk about?
This is a really tough one. There are so many authors I would like to talk to, but for the sake of an interesting discussion, let’s put together an interesting group of world builders: Neil Gaiman, Ray Bradbury, and Phillip K. Dick. That would be an amazing evening of talking about universe building.
Name a topic that you refuse to write about, and tell us, why won’t you write about that topic?
The one line that I don’t cross in my fiction in cruelty to animals. You can do whatever you want to the humans in the story, but don’t hurt the dogs. I’m a big animal lover with a history of sharing my life with rescue dogs. In addition, I think that establishing a character as unsavory by having him or her injure an animal is just cheap writing.
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