Friday, June 28, 2013

Friday's How She Does It featuring Astrid M. Theilgaard

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

Hmm, well, there is no story without a who, and then of course you need setting which covers when and where. What and why would be goal and motivation, leaving the how as to how it all five come together so yes, I think you could call that plot.

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

Not really. I have a file folder filled with pictures of people I've cut out of magazines. I'll pick one for what I think the heroine should look like, and one for the hero and paste them on a sheet of paper, then pick names. I start by jotting down 3 positive character traits and 3 negative character traits for each.
Then I'll start adding other things about them ie. favorite expressions, their back story, what they like, what they dislike, etc. etc. As the story progresses, I'll keep adding details. It gives me a good reference sheet for how my characters will react, plus helps me keep details straight.
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?

Both. I always jot down a simple outline, maybe one page. I'll start with that but I find that as the story progresses, the characters take over and they don't always say or do what I think they're going to! It makes writing the story fun for me, too, because sometimes they really surprise me.
3. Do you know how the story will end before you begin? In a general way or a specific one?

I write romance and of course the readers expect a happily ever after ending so boy always gets girl. And yes, the happily ever after will extend to the sub plots. I want to leave my readers with a satisfying, positive experience after reading one of my books.
4. Do you choose settings you know or do you have books of settings and plans of houses sitting around?

A little bit of both. I've written 2 Regency set books although I've never set foot in England! For those, obviously, I've used reference books. However, part of one of my stories takes place in Fort St. James, which used to be a fur trading post in northern B.C. I visited there a number of years ago while on vacation and loved it so much I had to write about it. I'm now working on a Viking romance. My husband and I traveled through Denmark a year ago and I dragged him to a replica of a Viking village just outside of Ribe. Needless to say, I took a lot of pictures. ;)
5. Where do you do your research? On line or from books?

I'm amassing a lovely reference library that I can use for general purposes. ie. Books on clothing, history of furniture (yes, really!), medical uses of herbs, the English language and usage through the ages, history books of time periods relevant to what I'm doing. I also do a lot of research on line and will even email museums, websites. etc. with specific questions. I find people are always very willing to help. I'm very particular about details, it comes from my technical background. And I love history so research for me is enjoyable.
6. Are you a draft writer or do you revise as you go along and why?

I revise as I go along. Sometimes it will slow me down because I'll keep redoing the same chapter over and over until it feels right to me. However, it pays off in the long run because my first draft is usually pretty clean. I've also discovered that it's easier to write something properly as far as plot structure first time around than it is to go back and redo it. That was the case with my latest release, A Knight For Love. I had written it a number of years ago and thought it just needed a polish. I've learned so much more about the craft of writing in the meantime that the quick touch up turned out to be a major rework - I spent a good 6 months on revisions and rewriting, which is almost as long as it takes me to write a manuscript from scratch! Live and learn, I suppose.

And thank you Janet, for the opportunity to appear on your blog! :)

"From vikings to viscounts, join the adventure, live the romance."



A.M. Westerling said...

Janet, I really appreciate the opportunity to be showcased on your blog. Thanks again!

Kathy Fischer-Brown said...

I always love this feature of Janet's blog. And today's was no exception. As a fan and fellow author, I am intrigued by Astrid's methods. I love how your characters start out as pictures and end up with probably more detail than you can work into the story. Wishing you both continued success.

Melissa Keir said...

What a great interview! Thanks for sharing!

A.M. Westerling said...

Thanks Melissa, I'm glad you enjoyed it! ;)

A.M. Westerling said...

Chiming in late here, Kathy. Thanks for the kind words. I can't remember where I picked up the magazine idea, I think it was at one of the CaRWA meetings over the years. :)