Friday, May 10, 2013

Friday's How She Does It featurning Victoria Chatham

Thank you Janet! This is a new and exciting venture for me. Here are my answers and attached pdf file. The chapter is quite innocuous and suitable for general reading as requested. I hope this works but if you need anything else please let me know. Thanks again. Victoria C.

We all know there are six elements in writing fiction Who, What, Where, When,Why and How. I believe the first five lead to the sixth which for me is the Plot. What's your take on this?

I quite agree with you. I think it was Rudyard Kipling who first coined the five W’s in his poem The Elephant’s Child. It’s the most concise way of encapsulating the bones of a story and the most basic framework from which to work. ‘Who’ is your cast of characters. ‘Where’ is the world, or setting, in which you place them. ‘When’ is the time period whether it’s historical or contemporary. ‘What’, ‘Why’ and ‘How’ is all the stuff that happens along the way to the conclusion, the story arc if you will.

1.How do you create your characters? Do you have a special system?

I don’t think I have ever consciously created my characters. They come to me in their own good time. Sometimes singly, sometimes in a rush. I write them all down and promise them I’ll get to them eventually. When that time comes, I create a profile for each character. I determine their birthday and build their strengths and weaknesses based on their astrological sign. I create their personal timeline to further confirm why they are the way they are, influences from parents and siblings, school and profession, and for my Regency, the mores of the era. Then I have material to draw on when I start putting them in situations they are not expecting.

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

My characters definitely come before my plot. Once I have my cast of characters, then I create a rough one page outline in bullet form of what happens to them and up the ante once I start writing.

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

Not always, but because I write romance there has to be a HEA so that’s what I try to build up to through all the problems my characters have to overcome.

4. Do you choose settings you know or do you have books of settings and plans of houses on your book shelf?

I love placing my characters in settings I know, or create a setting to suit my story based on settings I know. That might be places I have actually lived or visited, or even pictures from magazines that catch my eye. My home up until I was five years old was my grandmother’s Georgian house. I used the sitting room in that house for a scene in His Dark Enchantress. I made Sidmouth, Devon the home for my heroine in that book, based on what I remembered from visits there as a child. If I want to use a setting to which I have never been, I Google it and, if at all possible, visit it.. God bless Google! As for houses, I’m blessed with a knack for ‘seeing’ the homes my characters live in and usually draft them before I start writing so I know where rooms, hallways, stairways and doorways are. It’s just a rough sketch that works for me a bit like a road map. If I’m creating a village or town, that gets drawn out too. I like to know where I’m going, so if I can see it then I don’t have my characters getting lost. I’m a very visual person so this helps me to get what I see into words on the page and hopefully create a better flow for my reader to follow.

5. Where do you do your research? From books you won, the library or the internet?

I love research! It can easily draw me away from the writing. In an early writing class the tutor told me to forget the research, write the damn book and fill in where I needed to later. I have a magpie mind and tend to recall the most obscure facts. First and foremost I use the internet, but for the best research I love talking to people. If I really need something specific then I will go to a professional or an organization. Once I was stuck on not being able to see the roofline for the house I’d created for a particular story. I picked an architect out of Yellow Pages and spent a very enjoyable and informative two hours with him. For another story I needed to know what life was like in Montreal in 1939 just before WW2. For that I approached a local seniors organization and consequently spent a most delightful afternoon with a very charming lady who gave me the most wonderful insight of her life back then. Her record of how she and her sisters washed their hair is in that book. That’s the kind of detail I look for as I think it creates a very human touch. I do use the library but I’m a much slower reader these days so I like to have books for my own shelves so I can pick at them as and when I’m ready.

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

I revise as I go. I have the most wonderful critique partner in A.M. Westerling so when I’ve got a few chapters under my belt I send them to her. I just keep writing, but when I get her critique back I revise the returned chapters and I know I’m pretty well done with them. Sometimes a thread gets changed and, of course, there is always the final read through. I want to make sure all the plot points are satisfactorily concluded and I have achieved that HEA that all romance readers expect.


Joan Hall Hovey said...

Love the interview, thank you. I found those 5 W's a good reminder. I also found basing certain characteristics of characters on their birth dates very intriguing.


Sheila Claydon said...

I love that your characters have birthdays and you know all the details of the houses they live in Victoria. The interview certainly made it easy to picture you writing and I really identify with your love of research too. To me that is often the best part of the book.

Melissa Keir said...

Very great interview. I love getting to know more about new to me authors! I wish you all the best!

Kathy Fischer-Brown said...

Loved the insight into your mind and your process. Research is fun and often reveals those little unexpected details that find their way into the book. I love it and can get lost in it, as well.

Continued success to you!

Janet Lane Walters said...

Isn't it fun to see how others go about writing. Thanks for being here.