The Basics: Who What When Where Why & How

Who I write about: I write primarily in the Young Adult genre so my characters are teenagers with ages ranging from 15-18. I enjoy creating tough situations for my characters to navigate through. It touches your emotions more and maybe even makes you a little uncomfortable seeing young people in rough circumstances. Also, everyone can relate to those teenage years. You’re either a teen now or you were a teen at some point before and still remember what it’s like. Teen characters don’t have the luxury of long years of life experience or fully knowing who they are yet. So watching them navigate their stories and struggling and overcoming is more intriguing to me than writing adult fiction.

What I write about: I write contemporary Young Adult fiction. No, YA doesn’t always mean fantasy, paranormal romances, or dystopian universes. My stories are all set in the real world. I’m not trying to say my stories are real depictions of every high school or teen scenario out there, but the goal is to make it real enough that you can picture it happening or maybe know someone like the character you’re reading about. I touch on a lot of emotional content, and my characters are often angry, confused, guarded, and struggling with the hand their dealt. Seeing how they navigate those hurdles, discovering the choices they make, and depicting the relationships they have are all part of the journey.

When I write: I usually do my best writing in the afternoon, though I’ve been known to stay up until 3AM as well. There’s nothing more satisfying than having a ten hour writing day, staring at the monitor, typing at super speed, and letting everything come together.

Where I write: In my office surrounded by three miniature Schnauzers. There’s usually a can of Mountain Dew at my side and a playlist of music going on in the background. I use music to fuel the emotion in the scene. And also to block out the noises on my street.

Why I write: The most important question. I write for me. Yes, of course, I want to be published. I want my work to mean something to other people. I want someone to find some enjoyment or importance in it. But first of all I write for myself. Because when I don’t write I feel completely lazy and worthless. It’s silly, but I’ll get incredibly depressed if I go long periods without writing or can’t make the story work how I want. Everything feels great and wonderful when I’m writing well, and it feels horrible and pointless when I’m not. I hope that if my books ever reach an audience people will feel something. They’ll laugh, cry, gasp, wrinkle their nose, throw the book at a wall, mumble under their breath, roll their eyes, or even cringe. I want to reach people and see them have a connection to the characters or the story. I want to provide an escape from reality. I want to give back that feeling I get when I read.

How I write: It usually starts with something small. I’ll have one random idea. For example, I decided I wanted to write about a kidnapping.  That’s all I knew, but I wrote a 60,000 word novel about it. Or I thought it would be interesting to write about two teenagers who lived across the street from each other. Bam. That’s another book. Sometimes I just imagine a short scene or exchange of dialogue in my head, and I wonder what could come from it. In any circumstance it’s always about the characters. I may not know the character’s name, why they’re saying what they are or feeling what they’re feeling, but that’s the joy in writing. You take what you imagine and figure it out. You have endless paths to consider, and you find the one that fits. The characters will grow and their stories will shape.  They drive the plot. So how I write always starts with who I write about. Sometimes I outline, but it’s usually just a list of scenes or events I want to use laid out in order.  Mostly I write down those random scenes I want to incorporate or those snippets of dialogue I want to use later in a “notes” file, and then I free write and let the characters take over.

What about you? Who do you write about? When do you feel most productive? Do you listen to music or do you need complete silence? What’s your process? And why do you do this? What does writing mean to you?


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