Friday, June 14, 2013
Friday's How She Does It with Marianne Sciucco
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?
As a former newspaper reporter, this is all very familiar to me, and fiction writing is a lot like writing a news story, except it all happened in my head and I’m the only one who really knows what’s going on. You need to have the five W’s and the how in order to succeed at writing an enjoyable book or story. I usually start with the “Who,” the characters.
1. How do you create your characters? Do you have a special system?
I have no special system, other than using a character naming book and always observing and memorizing the actions and idiosyncrasies of people I encounter every day. A lot of my story and character development happens in my subconscious. My characters “live” in my head, sometimes fully developed, with voices and faces I can see. Often, they’re enigmas: I know them, but I cannot see them. I breathe life into them rather slowly, taking my time to develop their appearances, the sound of their voices, the way they speak to the world, their feelings and emotions. I fill in the blanks with traits I’ve observed in people I know or others I’ve observed. Many times the plot dictates these actions. It’s true that a writer may not always know exactly where her story is going or what her character will do next. That’s what makes it so exciting.
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?
Characters “speak” to me, often unexpectedly, and start telling me their story, sometimes in a whisper, often in a shout. If it resonates with me, I let it germinate a while and then, piece by piece, a coherent plot starts to develop. If compelling enough, I might start to flesh out the characters, and work their story until it has a beginning, middle, and end. It all starts with the character.
3. Do you know how the story will end before you begin? In a general or a specific way?
I am not a “pantster,” I prefer to plot out my story from start to finish before I begin. If something should or needs to change along the way I am open to allowing it, but I can’t write if I don’t have a road map.
4. Do you choose settings you know or do you have books of settings and plans of houses on your book shelf?
I use a combination of both. I prefer to write about settings I know, for instance, Blue Hydrangeas takes place on Cape Cod, my home in my heart. I know and love that area very well, but even so, I fact-checked quite a lot of the content in the book, making sure I got it right. I did not want to offend any Cape Codders by messing up the geography or placing a lighthouse or beach in the wrong town.
5. Where do you do your research? From books you own, the library or the internet?
I love research and can often get bogged down in details. I use all of the above. The internet is a boon to writers, but I love to visit my local library and pick up a stack of books on whatever I’m writing about. That alone provides inspiration and motivation.
6. Are you a draft writer or do you revise as you go along?
I can’t help it – I revise as I go along. As much as I try to break this habit, I’m a perfectionist and can’t walk away from what I’ve just written if it does not meet my approval. Of course, I do extensive revisions when the product is finished. Good writing is all about the rewriting.
Thank you, Janet, for inviting me to appear on your blog and for helping to promote my book.