Friday, February 1, 2013
Friday's How She Does It featuring Lisabet Sarai
I've never really looked at writing this way - I just write! - but I guess I can
see what you mean. The "how" is the events of the story, which ultimately must
grow out of the characters (who), their situations (what, when and where), and
their motivations (why).
> 1. How do you create your characters? Do you have a specific process?
To be honest, I don't have any particular process for character development.
Once or twice I have tried to produce written character profiles as some books
recommend. I dutifully listed everything I knew about my characters' history,
desires, fears, appearance, and so on. Then I started writing and proceeded to
ignore most of what I'd noted in the profiles.
Occasionally a character will come to me fully fleshed out, but usually I
discover more about them as I write. Also, I sometimes spend days thinking about
the people in my stories before I ever begin writing, figuring out who they are
and what they want.
> 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?
Unlike many romance authors, I'm much more plot-driven - or perhaps I should say
situation-driven - than character driven. With one or two exceptions, most of my
books begin with a premise, problem or situation, along with some very rough
ideas of who is involved in the story. So you might say that my plot actually
shapes my characters.
HOT SPELL (the book I'm featuring below) actually began with the title. My
publisher asked me for something short and very erotic. I was playing with ideas
and came up with the title, "Hot Spell", which seemed to fit the "very erotic"
requirement. From there, I got the notion of a woman living in the city,
suffering from a spring heat wave, dying to be out in the forest where the air
was cooler and fresher. That in turn led me to the notion that she might
actually be an Elemental - a supernatural creature of the Earth - without
realizing the fact. Then I needed a hero of course, and decided he would also be
an Elemental - a fire Elemental (leading back to the "hot" in the title). As I
worked on the story further (this was before I'd begun to write) I realized the
key conflict could come from his inability to make love to a mortal woman
because he'd incinerate her.
> 3. Do you know how the story will end before you begin? In a general way or a
> specific one?
By the time I begin writing, I normally have a general idea of how the story
will end. I do not do formal outlines in most cases, but I'll usually have at
least a mental scene list. Often I'll add scenes as I go along. I'm definitely
very linear in the way I write. I begin at the beginning and write straight
through to the end, rarely going backwards or rearranging scenes.
I have had cases where the ending shifted away from my original expectations.
This tends to happen more with longer books. I've also had sudden moments of
inspiration as I drew close to completely a story. That actually happened with
HOT SPELL - but I don't want to give away the surprise by explaining just what
that inspiration was!
> 4. Do you choose settings you know or do you have books of settings and plans
> of houses sitting around?
I focus a lot on settings, much more than most romance authors, I think. You
might even say that the setting is an additional character in many of my books.
I tend to set my stories in places I've visited or lived. Since I've done quite
a bit of traveling, that provides a lot of variety LOL. I've written eight full
length novels at this point, set (respectively) in Thailand, Boston, London and
Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Guatemala (actually I haven't been there...yet),
Worcester and western Massachusetts, San Francisco, and India. If you add my
short stories and novellas, the range of settings grows even wider.
For interiors, I tend to use my imagination, drawing from experience of course.
Are there authors who really use books of house plans?
Even if I don't specifically mention where a story is set, I almost always have
a specific location in mind. (That's the case with HOT SPELL.) Someone familiar
with the area might even recognize it. I can't really picture the story events
unless I've located it in space. For one thing, I believe that location strongly
influences culture and hence characters.
> 5. Where do you do your research? On line or from books?
Both. For stories with a historical component, I'll often read entire books just
to get a feeling for the background. For instance, when I was working on my
novel SERPENT'S KISS, which deals with Mayan mythology, I purchased several
scholarly tomes about the Mayans and their monuments, language and world view.
A number of years ago I had an idea for a time travel romance set in the Angkor
Wat period of Cambodia. I bought, and read cover to cover, two or three books
about the period. Fascinating, especially since I'd already visited Angkor.
Somehow, though, I couldn't make get a realistic image of what life was like.
(In all fairness, that was more than a thousand years ago, and much of the
culture was erased by later cataclysmic events in the country.) Ultimately, I
abandoned the project, though I suppose I might revive it at some point.
I'm not crazy about research. Some authors report that they totally get lost in
researching details. That's not me LOL! I just look for what I need.
6. Are you a draft writer or do you revise as you go along and why?
I mostly revise as I go along. I know many experts advise against this, but it
seems to work for me. One reason is that I have a fairly limited amount of time
for writing. When I get to the end of a book, I want to know that it's close to
being ready to submit.
Of course I do edit my first "drafts" but rarely do I make serious changes in
plot or sequence. I doubt I modify more than 10-15% of my first draft in most
All's fair in lust and business
NASTY BUSINESS - BDSM erotica from Lisabet Sarai
Get your copy today! http://tinyurl.com/apbhych
Read an excerpt: http://tinyurl.com/azojwmx