Elizabeth writes the Memphis Barbeque series for Penguin/Berkley (as Riley Adams), the Southern Quilting mysteries (2012) for Penguin/NAL, and the Myrtle Clover series for Midnight Ink. She blogs daily at Mystery Writing is Murder, which was named by Writer’s Digest as one of the 101 Best Websites for Writers in 2010. Her next release is in June--Finger Lickin' Dead, part of the Memphis BBQ series.
As the mother of two, Elizabeth writes on the run as she juggles duties as Girl Scout leader, referees play dates, drives carpools, and is dragged along as a hostage/chaperone on field trips.
Elizabeth Spann Craig (Riley Adams)
Things I Know About My Writing Process
by Elizabeth Spann Craig
As hard as it is for me to believe, I’m about to start working on my eighth manuscript. I used to be a lot shakier when I started out on a project—it was almost like I was trying to remember how to do it all again.
I guess writing is one of those things that gets easier as you go. Well….no, I’ll take that back. But I do think the writing process is something that gets easier, simply because you have a better understanding of what will happen as you write. The process is completely individual to each writer, of course. This is what I know about mine:
Before I start, I’ll make a Word folder labeled with the working title of the WIP. I’ll also go ahead and make several files to go in that main folder: one will be “characters,” one will be “random ideas,” one will be “brainstorming,” and one will be the actual first draft.
I’ll start out with my characters. Actually, I’ll start out with my victim, to be exact. This victim will be an amalgam of various unpleasant types that I’ve had personal contact with or seen on the television news shows. J
I’ll think of all the possible reasons why someone would want to kill someone like my victim. This gets me started with my suspects.
I’ll come up with a list of traits for my protagonist. I’ll also come up with ways I want the character to grow.
I’ll start writing and will write half a chapter a day, if possible, and I’ll work straight through the manuscript (leaving out descriptions, settings, and subplots)…unless I get stuck.
If I do get stuck or don’t feel like writing a particular scene, I’ll skip ahead to a different part of the book and write it, instead.
I’ll add the character descriptions, setting details, and subplots after the first draft is finished.
I’ll frequently talk to myself as I write. If I’m in public at the time, people will stare. J If I’m at home, my corgi, Chloe, will look concerned.
I’ll reach a point in my first draft where I feel absolutely ecstatic about my story, characters, and subplots.
I’ll reach a point in my first draft where I consider starting over with a different idea.
At some point in my first draft, I’ll be surprised by where I am in the story—either that I have fewer words or more.
I’ll read a book while I’m writing my book and wistfully think that I’ll never write that well.
I’ll choose a different book to read while writing my book and feel confident that I could have written it better.
When I get really into the writing groove, one of my cats (Mr. Smoke by name), will inexplicably choose to walk over my laptop keyboard. He will only do this when he observes me in the writing zone.
I won’t want to stop messing with my manuscript and will continue tweaking it right up to deadline. My misguided sense of perfectionism will put me on top of a deadline every time.
I’ll feel an intense feeling of satisfaction and joy in both the writing process and then in seeing the finished product.
How about you? What have you learned about yourself and your writing process?