Friday, January 20, 2012

Friday - How She Does It Anne K. Albert

We all know there are six elements in writing fiction and often fact. Who, What, When, Where, Why and How. I believe the first five lead to the sixth which for me is the plot. What's your take on this?

The how of a story is indeed a sum of the five Ws. An author tells the story by showing the first five elements, which in turn allows the reader to see, understand and appreciate the how.

How do you create your characters? Do you have a specific process?

I wish I did! I’m a pantser so I begin with an inkling of an idea. It’s never larger than a grain of sand and it’s always clouded in mist! When I begin a story I have no idea who these characters are. It’s very much like meeting a person for the first time. You get a sense you either like them or not, but as to who they really are deep inside, you haven’t a clue. By the end of the first draft, I know a great deal more about the characters. It’s in the revisions and edits that I expand and add layers to their personalities.

Do your characters come before the plot? Do you sketch out your plot or do you let the characters develop the route to the end?

Sometimes a character appears first, but usually it’s an event or inciting incident that will forever change this particular person’s life that pops into my head. As I mentioned above, I’m a pantser. I never know from one sentence to the next what is going to happen, so plotting even a scene in advance let alone an entire book is not for me.

However, midway through the first draft I will sometimes complete a GMC chart.

It’s important to me that every character has a reason for being in this book. Whether primary or secondary characters, everyone must have a Goal. It doesn’t necessarily have to relate to the story question, but they have to want to possess or achieve something. This something doesn’t need to be earth shattering. It just has to be of importance to this character. It’s not just enough for them to want something. They have to have a reason for wanting it. This is their Motivation, and that often tells me something about their personality. In fiction as in life, of course, no one achieves what they want without a struggle or having to work for it, and that’s where Conflict comes in. When I understand each person’s GMC, I have a much better idea of how they will react in any situation.

Do you know how the story will end before you begin? In a general way or a specific one?

This is a tough question, Janet! I guess my answer would be general because I know in advance that I want all of the loose ends tied up. I also know I want a satisfying ending. It has to feel right to me and to the reader.

Do you choose settings you know or do you have books of settings and plans of houses sitting around?

I rarely choose settings I personally know, because I sense each story needs a specific locale before I begin to write. Plus, I’ve traveled enough to understand that so many places around the world have similarities and it’s these commonalities that I use when I write.

As for house plans, no. When my characters walk into a building, I see it for the first time through their eyes. I notice the layout, the furniture, the personal details they notice. It’s all very voyeuristic, but it works.

Where do you do your research? On line or from books?

These days it’s all online. If I can’t find it on Google or in Wikipedia or wherever, it’s probably not worth worrying about!

Thanks for featuring me today, Janet. It’s been such fun!


Smoky said...

Good interview, Ladies! I don't know how writers did it back in the days before Google. Maybe they got more exercise, walking back and forth to the library? 8-)

Anne K. Albert said...

I think you're on to something, Smoky. Libraries were always my favorite place before computers. Now, it depends on location. Where I live now, not so much, but in the village where I used to live, I'd walk to the library (a gorgeous stone Carnegie building) and spend hours there. Two years ago I re-visited the town, and returned once more to the library. Loved it! Love the atmosphere. Better still, I actually walked there and back! :)