Jill Williamson is awesome, and I'm not the only one who thinks so. Her debut novel, By Darkness Hid, won a Christy, and the second in the series, To Darkness Fled, has been nominated for this year's Christy award.
Today she's here to talk about her writing process. She's also offering a copy of either books 1, 2, or 3 in the Blood of Kings Trilogy. To get yourself entered, leave a comment for Jill either asking her a question or remarking upon something about her writing process that you found interesting. (US Residents only, please. Closes Monday, May 16th at 11:59 pm Central time )
1. I’m a writer who is a cross between an outliner and a seat-of-the-pants writer. When I’m looking to think up a new story, I like to spend some time brainstorming and outlining so that I have a bit of a direction as to where the story will go. I start by coming up with a premise. I do that one of two ways. I either combine two completely unrelated things, or I come up with a “What if?” statement.
Boarding school & wizards (Harry Potter)
Love & vampires (Twilight)
A criminal mastermind & fairies (Artemis Fowl)
Outer space & hitchhiking (Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy)
What if twenty four teens had to fight to the death on national television?
What if a rich Manhattan teenage girl had to relocate to a
farm in Oklahoma?
(So Not Happening)
What if a teenage boy was recruited to become an MI6 agent?
What if a boy found out he was a demigod?
What if a ditsy blonde got into Harvard Law School?
What if a boy was raised by wild animals?
(The Jungle Book)
2. If I’m writing a speculative story (fantasy, science fiction, dystopian, steampunk), I like to draw a map. Maps help me see the land, think about where my different characters are from, and often inspire scenes. They also help me think through my storyworld, magic, and other fantastical story elements.
3. The next thing I do is to think through a basic plot. I learned this from Randy Ingermanson’s Fiction 101 course. I write one sentence for each of the following.
1. Who my main character is and how the story opens. Introduction.
2. The disaster at the end of act one.
3. The disaster at the end of act two.
4. The disaster at the end of act three.
5. How the story is resolved.
It might look like this:
1. Slave boy, Achan, gets the chance to train as a squire, even though it’s against the law.
2. Achan starts hearing voices in his head and thinks he is going nuts.
3. Poroo attack the prince’s procession and Achan is struck down in a battle.
4. Sir Gavin takes Achan before the Council of Seven and reveals a shocking secret.
5. Achan, Sir Gavin, and Vrell flee into Darkness to get away from the evil prince..
4. Then I take the plot one step further and brainstorm a list of major scenes. You can see my example of this on my blog. And if you think you might like to try it, I have a blank sheet I made for this process. Click here to download the form and try it yourself.
5. Once I have done all this, I’m ready to start writing. I always try to write the first draft as quickly as possible, in a month, if I can. Then I spend the next few months rewriting.
Learn more about Jill and her books at her web site: http://www.jillwilliamson.com/