Image courtesy of theguardian.com
WARNING! This introduction, while not actually plagiarized, borrows heavily from those who came before. Thanks to Mariah Klein for tagging us in this Writing Process Blog Chain. We are happy to be a link in the chain that includes her as well as Michele Cacano and Struggling Writer. You can find out more about their writing processes on their blogs, A Dream and A Scream for Michele, The Struggling Writer for Struggling Writer, and Mariah’s blog at mariahklein.wordpress.com/.
The purpose behind the blog chain is to learn more about fellow writers. It also appears that, if you break the chain, you’re looking at seven years of bad luck. We weren’t told about that aspect of it until AFTER we agreed to participate. So, read the fine print both of the writers listed above and all contracts.
What am we currently working on?
We are rewriting history and literature. Our ambitious project is a retelling of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park as an alternate history, steampunk adventure/romance which takes place in a Pacific Northwest recently wrested from Russian control. We are preserving all the key characters and key events but reworking them as needs be to tell a ripping good tale of adventure and romance set in a steampunk world brought about by a man made cataclysm. If all goes as planned it will be followed another story about the Honorable John Yates and Julia Bertram (from Mansfield Punk) set in the desert Southwest as well as subsequent tale featuring Fanny’s brother William and his service with Wentworth, Benwick, and Harville from Persuasion as they struggle against both terrestrial and unearthly threats.
How does our work differ from others in the genre?
The first and perhaps most important thing that we have done is to eschew the idea of a dystopian present. Our characters live in a steampunk world that has been forged by a cataclysm which occurred over a hundred years ago. While the effects of the disaster continue to echo down through time, the people and the world at large have dealt with the past and are now progressing along altered lines of history and technology.
Why do we write what we do?
Our blog header says it all: We’ve seen reality and it’s not for us. If the truth were known, we suspect that most people would share that opinion. So, where do you go when reality closes in? We go into the realm of make believe. We love “what if” scenarios; romance; suspense; mythology; mystery; sci-fi; fantasy; the occasional steamy scene; and – like all romance writers – a happy ending. Jane Austen and Jane Ann Krentz are our models of inspiration. Like them, we have the drive to create and share entertaining and hopeful stories about strong women, occasionally clueless men, and how they learn that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts – in every way.
How does your writing process work?
We are a team. That makes for an interesting division of writing labor. We both create the world in which our characters live but along the lines of our individual expertise. We always have a general outline but find that time, dinners, walks and occasional bursts of inspiration cause us to diverge from the original plan.
We’re also fortunate enough to have some very enthusiastic friends who offer helpful suggestions, wonderfully complicated posers, and lots of inspired research along the way. Gareth and Richard, thanks for all you contribute. The stew is richer for your input.
Usually, our process is for Jim to do the heavy lifting by working the ideas about devices, beasties, and events into the general story format. Colleen then adds nuance, color, and emotion to the story. Then, it’s Jim’s turn again. He reworks the first stage with the embellishments provided by Colleen. He also resolves the conflicts she has identified; adds in new ideas she has generated; and ensures that the writer’s ‘voice’ is consistent. Whenever conflicts are identified, we resolve them by letting the person with the best idea lead.
After that, it’s time to rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. Not that we don’t do that enough in the first go around but, it’s what’s needed to get the story to where we want it to be: entertaining, suspenseful, titillating; and occasionally humorous.
The next step
Now it’s our turn to tag another writer. He’s someone we met at PNWA’s 2013 conference. A successful playwright who’s original work met considerable success last year and a burgeoning self published fantasy writer. Please meet Aaron Volner and read his thoughts at his blog.