Friday, November 16, 2012

Friday's How She Does It featuring Barbara Edwards

Welcome guest Barbara Edwards. She's telling us how she approaches a story.
Janet: 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?

Barbara: In my opinion, plot is more important. A good plot is the starting point for character building, emotional tension and suspense. The plot is a curve that draws you from the starting point upwards. Building the story with details, you reach the crisis and fall to the conclusion. I regard the plot as weaving all the separate strands of my story into a tight braid.

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

Barbara: My initial characters appear in my dreams. Building my characters is like getting to know a new friend. Their first scene is our introduction. I learn about them as I write. Ancient Awakening, my paranormal romance, began with a nightmare about the cemetery next to the house where I grew up.

As to process, unlike many writers, I use a book bible instead of character sheets. I record the details as I go rather than coldly describing each detail ahead of time. I did try that. I found my style doesn’t work that way.

Janet: 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?

Barbara: I guess you’re asking if I’m a plotter or a pantster, I’m definitely a pantster. It makes me laugh to remember when I first became serious about writing. I thought all the pundits knew more than me and I should use their methods. Outlining? Character sheets? I tried it all and found it slowed my writing to a crawl.

I need to allow my muse to create as I write. It works for me. When I begin, I know my first scene and I know how the plot will resolve. The rest needs to be filled in.

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

Barbara: I start a story after a vivid dream about the opening scene. I know at that time how the plot will resolve. It’s not something I could share. It’s the way my mind and imagination work. That knowing has worked for me.

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

Barbara: My paranormal series is set in New England. I grew up in a small town very similar to my Rhodes End village. I like writing what I find familiar: ghosts, werewolves, vampires and eccentric people.

One of my Historical romances: Annie’s Heart, is set in Kansas and I had to do research to find details about the place. By the way, my belief in reincarnation was reinforced a few years ago when we visited the local at the Fort in Kansas. I had many details right although I never read them anywhere.

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

Barbara: Whew! All over. I have a terrific memory for details and can recall facts I learned years ago. I do interview people. I like reading so I do a lot in books from the library. I’m learning to use the internet more although it can be difficult to verify anything I question. Any historian will tell you to have three sources before believing anything.

Janet: Are you a draft writer or do you revise as you go along and why?

Barbara: I revise as I go. My method is to open where I started the day before and edit those pages. It puts me back into my mindset and I can just continue forward. That doesn’t mean I don’t need final edits because I do.

I’ve tried several different methods and always go back to this since it works for me.

Thank you for having me as your guest, Janet.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great interview, Ladies! It's always interesting seeing how another author works. I can relate to many of the things you said Barbara. I start with an initial scene, know how the book will resolve and have to discover the rest as I go along. Making detailed notes ahead of time seems to inhibit my creativity although I will jot a few for reference.

I love reading books set in small New England towns, especially paranormal stories. The two seem to mesh very well! :)