Yesterday I took part in The Author’s Oracle where I answered some tarot based questions and posted my own, from my tarot deck. Today, I’m answering the questions I posted from my deck. They’re hard.
0. The Fool: If you could go back to the beginning, where you had that childlike innocence and joy, what would you do differently with your writing journey?
I’d pay more attention to the story structure and craft side of things so I would dive into publishing sooner and make the most of that KDP boom.
1. The Magician: When times get dark, where do you find your inner balance and strength?
I meditate, both sitting and walking meditations. I find quiet familiar places in the city, usually near the river because the water soothes me. I also curl up in my husband’s arms and take solace in the peace and strength I find there.
2. The High Priestess: How much of yourself do you find sneaks into your fiction?
I worked very hard to remove as much of myself as possible from all of my previously published works. My editor knows me very well so he helped me with this. Thanks to someone on Twitter, I’m allowing more of myself to enter these books that I’m currently writing. I feel like my experiences, my personal touch, could help people. I’m still being really careful about how it comes out, but I hope that they’ll help people.
3. The Empress: What’s your fictional comfort zone?
Urban Fantasy with shifters and hellhounds up front and centre, with a strong kick-ass female protagonist.
4. The Emperor: How do you feel about writing rules? Which ones do you throw out?
I really don’t like writing rules, I find the vast majority of them are extreme and closed-minded. There’s one in particular that I will stand and argue about, and that’s that the only dialogue tag that should be used is said. I call BS.
Get ready, I’m getting up on my soap-box.
Now, the people who spout this (yes spout) will tell you that anything other than said gets in the way and breaks reader’s immersion. They will tell you that you should use action beats and such instead. For example, “Bobby, we’ve had this discussion before,” he slammed the mug on the table, “Do not bring it up again.” he said.
There’s a time and a place for those beats, they can work fantastically, but sometimes, they aren’t appropriate. Sometimes they’re clunky, there are too many words there. You’re effectively using ten words in the place of one, which is breaking another one of those precious writing rules.
Look at this:
“Please, no more.” She said.
“Please, no more.” She screamed.
“Please, no more.” She whispered
I changed one word each time, and yet the tone of the image that’s brought to mind is completely different in each. That is the power of a dialogue tag. Sometimes, said works beautifully, other times you need something else. Every word must hold its weight in the scene, use them, and the space to their full capacity.
5. The Hierophant: Has there been somewhere unexpected that’s produced a breakthrough in your writing? An unusual source or mentor?
I learnt a lot from coaching and being a riding instructor. It gave me a good idea about people’s attention span and how to give them information in a way that engages them and they still understand.
6. The Lovers: Who’s a character that reflects, balances, and strengthens you? Whether one of your own or someone else’s.
Probably Ronan from The Raven Cycle. I see a lot of myself in Adam, but I identify and really connect with Ronan.
7. The Chariot: How do you satisfy both your heart and your head with your fiction?
My writing is my art, publishing is my business. I write stories and characters that I’m madly in love with. I create worlds I adore, then I carefully pick and choose the exact moments for the plot that work to satisfy readers. I then market them in the correct genres, and pick out the key points that appeal to the reader who’ll love them the most. (I hope).
8. Strength: What do you have the least patience with in the writing process?
Formatting. I hate it. I have to go back over everything five or so times. Triple checking every little space, every capital letter, every header, ugh. I look forward to earning enough to get someone else to do it for me.
9. The Hermit: What do you do when you when things aren’t working with your wip? How do you go about figuring that out?
I take notes in my planning book. I write around the issue. I’ll write little scenes from the characters back story, I’ll write the scene from points of view of other characters. I’ll write information from other bits of the world. I’ll keep building around it, until it clicks and I can move forward.
10. The Wheel Of Fortune: How do you do deal with things being out of your control?
I hate being out of control. Hate it. I do my best to take a deep breath and focus on the end point, focus on what I can control.
11. Justice: How do you feel your past has molded you as a writer?
I tend to write the darker side of things and that definitely comes from my past.
12. The Hanged Man: How much are you willing to give to your writing?
A lot. Writing is my path, my goal, my passion, my calling. That being said, I will always choose my mental health and marriage over my writing.
13. Death: How have you, and thus your writing, transformed since you started this journey?
I’m stronger, happier, and have a better understanding of myself now. That’s led to better rounded and more interesting characters. I’m much more confident and more skilled with language, so I can better get the images in my head down on paper.
14: Temperance: How much thought do you pay do the long-term with your writing?
A helluva lot. Everything has is place, its purpose, and is a step on the longer path to the end goal.
15: The Devil: What’s your personal devil? What does the mean little imp that sits on your shoulder whisper?
That I’ll never be good enough, that I’ll always be a step behind.
16: The Tower: What’s the biggest revelation you’ve had as a writer?
That I can do this, that I’m actually pretty talented. That I can make a career out of this, it doesn’t have to be a hobby I can really do this.
17: The Star: What does that moment of pure inspiration and unburdened joy look like for you?
Bliss. From the outside I probably have a grin on my face as I frantically type stuff down. From the inside I have a multi-faceted movie playing in my brain, the varying strands of the plot are unraveling and unfurling behind the movie. Everything’s playing at once and it’s glorious.
18: The Moon: How do you deal with that moment when you can’t see where you’re going or what you’re supposed to be doing?
I pause, I meditate, and I contemplate. I look at where I am, where I want to be, and fill in the steps inbetween.
19. The Sun: Which area of the writing process are you most confident in? Which do you know you’re good at?
The first draft. My first drafts are tight, I’ve never needed to do a full rewrite. The closest I’ve come is hacking at one chapter in one book. The editing frustrates me because it’s nit-picky and it makes me feel awful about my learning disability.
20. Judgement: If you could go back and change one thing along your writing journey, what would it be and why?
I’d bash myself over the head and make myself more open to learning and criticism in the beginning. I think every new writer is a bit sensitive to that, and if I could have gotten over it sooner, I could be further along now.
21: The World: How much of what you’ve learnt from each project do you feel you take into each new project?
Everything. I apply every little fragment that I’ve learnt, from every source, to everything I can. I want to be constantly improving.
If you’d like to answer these questions then you are of course very welcome. 🙂