Friday, September 14, 2012

Friday's How She Does It with Heather Haven

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?

Hmmm. First is the character - so that would be the who, second is the plot. Everything else seems to fill in as I go along. For instance, I have the protagonist and I know what they are going to do, but everything revolves around the plot of the murders or happenings. How, when, where, and why comes to me as I go along. That's the fun part!

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

I meet people I like (or don't like), mentally store facets of them from real life, and transfer those facets to the written page. For me, it is essential that all characters WANT something, even if it's just a glass of water. If they want to be a bigger B&BP - bigger and better person - so much the better, but that's usually saved for my protagonist or series characters. Show me a person who wants to learn and grow and I'm there. All my characters strive to get along, to be better, all while getting what they want. I think that helps to keep them real.

2. Do your characters come before the plot?

Yes, if they are a main character. Sometimes the plot calls for somebody to come in a shake it up a bit, cause trouble, add to the drama! I'm big on drama.

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

I never sketch out my plot. Ever. For me, it would be meaningless. I need to keep the story open to change, flowing, in the moment. If I am surprised, so is the reader. If I don't know what's going to happen, neither does the reader. This is all within reason, of course. I had a character up and take me to Rio de Janeiro and had no idea we were going there until I read it on the page while I was typing. I was shocked. But there I went, taking research and copious notes with me. I didn't go there physically, but with the computer. Frankly, the locale added to the flavor of the book and I created this fabulous hotel I only hope exists somewhere. Be open to what you are writing and the storyline. The world is yours!

3. Do you know how the story will end before you begin?

Yes. I always know the ending. It's how I get there that's the magic.

In a general way or a specific one?

Very specific. I know the last scene. Maybe not the last words, but the last scene for sure.

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

Well, I just told you we went to Rio de Janeiro out of the blue, but I try to choose setting(s) I know or go there if I can, plus do research for accuracy. I'm fortunate in that I live in the Bay Area (the Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries), lived many years in NYC (The Persephone Cole Series), and have done a little traveling. It makes it much easier for my imagination to take off with the setting if I know a little beforehand.

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

Both, but if I can, I go there, soak it up, see little things that jump out at me, that give the story individuality and sparkle. In A Wedding to Die For, for instance, I went to several museums to see Toltec and Aztec pottery and other works of art. That helped me be more authentic in my writing and spurred me on to visualize a cave full of plundered works of art. I could 'see' the cache of antiquities with my mind's eye. It helped tremendously.

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

A draft writer, for sure. I do a myriad of drafts and rewrites. Writing is rewriting. You can take that to the bank.


Heather Haven said...

Thanks, Janet! Sharing the nuttier side of my writing life with you was fun.

Kathy Fischer-Brown said...

Interesting, Heather. I enjoyed reading about your "process." We may approach the craft differently, but in the end, we create stories that people will want to read.

Best of luck with your books.

Marian Lanouette said...

Thanks for sharing your process. I'm always curious how others achieve their success and schedules.

J.Q. Rose said...

Thanks for sharing your writing "method." Now where does that sharp sense of humor in your writing come from? Looking forward to reading your new release!!