Ask Me Anything: Your Questions Answered (Round #2)

Welcome to another Q&A session! I've selected three of the questions from a recent Instagram stories poll to answer in this article. (If you'd like your questions answered in a future article, be sure to keep an eye out for polls!)

1. @el_blackden_rains_author: Do you have any writing pet peeves?

This is a tricky one to answer! I have a lot of small pet peeves surrounding the writing process, including:

1. Loud keystrokes when I type on my laptop.
2. Getting interrupted by my phone or some other distraction.
3. Suddenly forgetting where the 'a' key is, or making a typo and having to go back and correct it.

In a broader sense, however, I have a few pet peeves about writing itself. One thing that I find interesting is that it's is only half an exact science: the grammar is either right or wrong, but the writing can never be either right or wrong. I suppose that idea in general is both my biggest pet peeve and my favorite thing about writing: the fact that it can never achieve perfection.

2. @joyfullydrawing: What does your writing process look like?

I take writing very seriously. Writing is a graceful process, almost like a dance ...

Okay, I might be lying.

In reality, writing (at least for me) is a very messy process. It usually begins with one of three things: a 'what if' statement, an observation of something that could be fixed but isn't, or a meeting with an unusual person. This small idea builds on itself, usually while I'm busy with something else (such as trying to get some sleep before a busy day, putting away the dishes, or solving math problems). The idea simmers until I get an irresistible urge to sit down at the computer, put on headphones, and just write whatever nonsense I can think of. By this point, I generally have a main character, a side character (or two, depending on the story), a beginning, and a middle. Since the end is the logical consequence of the beginning and middle, I usually save that part for later. The biggest hurdle for me is getting past the first thirty pages. Once that's done, the rest is just following the characters!

3. @kent.dufault: How do you cross the dreaded middle of a manuscript?

As mentioned in the answer above, I usually know the middle of the story before I begin. In this case, by middle, I mean the climax or culmination of the problem the characters must solve. However, if we're talking about the real middle, the part where the characters are somewhere between the frying pan and the fire, that's a different story. At this point, it's easy to get bored and lose inspiration. How do you prevent the hundred pages it took you to get this far from going to waste?

There are a few strategies I find helpful. One is to write your own fan fiction. Spend some time developing the characters' relationships with one another. What's a scene you would like them to act out that isn't necessarily part of the main plot? What scene would add meaning to the upcoming climax? What scene would give depth and reality to the characters' emotions? These are the ideas that manuscript middles are made of. Think about them until you're excited to write them, and then find a way to weave them into the story.

Another is to go back to what originally inspired you to write the story. Was it a photograph? A scene? Another book or story? By finding your original inspiration, you can focus on achieving the story's end rather than getting stuck in the middle. Think about what absolutely must happen before the characters can reach the story's climax and write only that. You can come back later and fill in the details.

4. BONUS QUESTION by @debchoudhury2017gma: What is the future?

  1. 1.
    the time or a period of time following the moment of speaking or writing; time regarded as still to come.

    "we plan on getting married in the near future"

    synonyms:time to come, time ahead; More
  2. 2.
    short for futures contract.
  1. 1.
    at a later time; going or likely to happen or exist.

    "the needs of future generations"

    synonyms:laterfollowingensuingsucceedingsubsequentupcoming, to come, coming
    "customers guarantee repayment at a future date"

I hope this is helpful.

Thank you to everyone who submitted questions for this article! Be sure to check back every Wednesday and Saturday for updates to this blog. In addition, there's an exciting announcement coming soon that will be announced here, on Instagram, and Twitter. Don't miss it!