Friday, June 15, 2012

Friday - How She Does It - Babette James

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?

That makes sense. The first five are the ingredients that mix and inform how the story plays out. Change Who is in the story and the What and the Why will change. The Where and When affect the characters’ desires, opportunities, and decision-making. Stir them thoroughly with imagination and you have the How that leads you to The End.

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

I don’t have a deliberate process for creating characters. They invariably just show up as the story brings me to them. They do develop and change as the story expands and I delve deeper into who they are. It’s all very organic. In writing Clear As Day, my character Kay appeared first in her lakeside campsite, already independent, reserved, and commitment-shy. Then the man who would become easy-going, globetrotting photographer Nate showed up to disrupt her careful, comfortable rut in life. As I explored why he’d shown up on her beach and his connection to Kay, their simple friends-with-benefits relationship proved not so simple and their conflict, love story, and their tight-knit group of friends bloomed from there.

2. 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?

Characters come to me before the plot. I’m definitely a pantser. I just keep asking why and what happens next and keep writing. The only plot goal I have in the beginning is that my hero and heroine will reach their happily ever after at the end. I start with a scene and a character and the story grows like Topsy in every direction until I discover how it all works out. I do create an outline as I go deeper into the story to keep track of scenes and start to build the synopsis, but the story comes first and outline second. I’m often as surprised as my characters are along the way.

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

The only thing I’m sure of while writing is that there will be a happily ever after, since I write romance. Finding out how the hero and heroine get to that happy ending is part of the fun of writing. Plotting would be much more efficient, I’m sure, but I’ve given into the fact my mind doesn’t work that way and now I enjoy the unexpected on the journey to The End.

Writing Clear As Day has given me many surprises. I had to explore the whys of all the characters and asking one question led to another and more. Not only did I have to ask what had happened in just Kay’s and Nate’s backstories to bring them to the story’s point in time, I needed to explore their friends’ lives, and additionally, ask what happened next to all of them, after Kay and Nate reached their point of happily ever after. I found that the story of Kay and Nate and their friends had not ended, but had more still to tell. I’m currently hard at work on the sequel and other friends will be joining Kay and Nate in falling in love at the river.

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

Some of my settings are familiar to me, for instance the Lake Mohave setting in Clear As Day. Others develop out of research, and some, like those for my fantasy works, from my imagination. I do like collecting pictures and researching as I develop the setting, and it never hurts to learn more, even if it is a place I have visited and know.

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

I’ll research on line and in books, wherever I find the information I need. I love the ease of researching on the internet and the wealth of images and inspiration that a simple search can lead to. Research can also be a dangerous distraction, stirring up tempting new shinies and alluring plot bunnies.

6. Are you a draft writer or do you revise as you go along and why?

I try to write an initial rough draft first, with minimal editing along the way. I like the fast drafting I learned by participating in National Novel Writing Month. It helps keep me from getting completely bogged down by the editing bug before there’s a story to edit. I don’t write linearly, the story grows outwards, rather than forwards. Once there’s a rough draft, the rest of the process seems to be continual state of filling in and layering.

Clear As Day is different from most of my other stories in that it did have several distinct draft stages. It began life as a first-person viewpoint short story focused on the scenic location and simple moment in time between two occasional lovers. Then, an experiment of expanding the little original story into a novella revised Kay’s viewpoint from first person to third. The biggest change was a challenge to add in Nate’s viewpoint, and once I did that, the story just blossomed into the full novel length it is now.

Thanks so much for letting me visit here today!

Bio: Babette James writes contemporary and fantasy romance and loves reading nail-biting tales with a satisfying happily ever after. When not dreaming up stories, she enjoys playing with new bread recipes and dabbling with paints. A teacher, she loves encouraging new readers and writers as they discover their growing abilities. Her class cheers when it’s time for their spelling test! She lives in New Jersey with her wonderfully patient husband and three extremely spoiled cats.




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Clear As Day is available at:

The Wild Rose Press– Paperback & eBook – Paperback & Kindle

Barnes & Noble – Nook

iTunes -

Come fall in love at the river.


Babette James said...

Hi, I'm happy to be visiting here today!

Diane Burton said...

Very interesting interview. Thanks for sharing.

Babette James said...

Hi, Diane, thanks!