Friday, September 7, 2012

Friday's How She Does It - Kathy-Fischer Brown

Today's guest is a fellow Books We Love Author. I have read one of her books and will read more when I'm finished obligatory reading.

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?

For me, before there is a plot, there is a seventh element: what if? I can take any of the first six and apply this ingredient and come up with a variety of scenarios. Not all will be applicable to what I want to write, but it gives me lots of food for thought. For instance, a medieval-set murder mystery I was working on a few years ago (and put aside) has evolved into a fantasy by the addition of the "what if?" factor. With Winter Fire, a historical romance, I knew the who, what, where, where, how and why, but it was not until I asked myself, “What if ?” that the story took on a major conflict that ended up driving the plot.

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

Having trained in the theater, I try to approach characters from the inside out. I want to see through their eyes and feel with their hearts. Before I can breathe life into them, I approach characterization as if it were an acting exercise. Sometimes I don't know what a character looks like until I can describe him/her through another character's point of view. But no, I can't say I have a specific process that I go through step-by-step. To start, I know basically what "types" will populate a story, what their roles and goals and ages are, what drives them. Sometimes a character will appear out of nowhere and become a major player. Finding the right name is probably my biggest challenge. Once the character is happy with his or her name, they begin to come alive for me. I had a character once who went through three name changes before I realized he was a bad guy.

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?

My characters come long before I know where the story is headed. Of course, I have an inkling about the plot, what its going to be about in a general way. But as the characters begin to flesh out, the direction crystalizes. I don’t sketch out the plot per se, but I do try to stay a step or two ahead. There are always a couple of pivotal scenes in my mind that I have my characters shoot for and I set smaller goals or throw in obstacles for them along the way.

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

It's different with each story. I usually start with a vague idea and try to guide the plot in that direction. But then again, that depends. In my current WIP, I've abandoned writing in a linear way, starting with Chapter One and writing straight to The End. Instead I'm working with character threads that form parts of the whole that I will eventually have to piece together. In working this way, I’m discovering that the end I'd envisioned is nothing at all like the one I started with. It’s going to take at least another book.

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

Since I write historicals, I like to set my stories in a time and place that I know from having researched the period or lived in or had some familiarity with the area. In some cases, I use actual places, but I've also created fictional settings. In my upcoming release, Courting the Devil, a historical and the second part of a trilogy, I've managed to stay with real places, while in the first book of the series, the setting was mostly created. In either case, I always end up immersed in maps and books, and surfing the net for specifics. Even in writing my above-mentioned fantasy, where creating an entire world at first seemed like it would free me from all that, I’m finding that in many ways it's more challenging. It can’t be so far-fetched as to make it unbelievable, because even in worlds that spring entirely from the imagination, there have to be certain constants, precepts of culture and history that the reader can accept and hopefully identify with.

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

When I first started writing, there was no online. Most of my research was done in libraries, at historical sites, through inter-library loan and correspondence. I also accumulated some pretty cool books over the years, but they're all mostly smelly, dusty old things that I consult now only on rare occasions, since it’s become so easy to find what I need online.

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

I’ve always been of the "write as you go along" school. It just happened that way. I couldn't write a "crappy" first draft if my life depended on it. I like to start my writing day by going through what I wrote the day before, tweaking and rewriting. This usually gives me the impetus to forge ahead.


Kathy Fischer-Brown

Winter Fire -

Lord Esterleigh's Daughter -


Kathy Fischer-Brown said...

Thanks for having me here, Janet.

Joan Hall Hovey said...

Great blog, Kathy. Wishing Janet and you excellent sales and continued inspiration for your books.


Sydell Voeller said...

I read your interview with much interest, Kathy. It sounds as if we do our characterization and plotting in much the same way.

Kathy Fischer-Brown said...

Thanks Joan. Thanks, Sydell. I never said I was unique :-)

Ann Herrick said...

Interesting interiew, Kathy. You sound much more organized than I am. ;D

Kathy Fischer-Brown said...

Anne, It may seem that way, but there is no method to my madness.

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Kathy,
Great blog, very informative.



Kathy Fischer-Brown said...

Margaret, Thanks for stopping by.

Juliet Waldron said...

Kathy--a day late and a dollar short--but an truly interesting post. Had no idea you had so many strings to your creative fiddle!

Kathy Fischer-Brown said...

Juliet, Always with such a unique way with words! Never learned to play the fiddle, but the strings on my guitar are old and brittle :-)