Diane has been a writer since she was able to hold a pencil and tell a story. An avid hiker, Reiki Master and martial artist, she loves to make a mess in the kitchen and putters in the garden at will. Joining the Headwaters Writers' Group in 2007 was the catalyst for unearthing several old writing projects. Her first murder mystery, Murder on Manitou, was published after winning a writing contest in 2010. She lives in Southern Ontario with her husband, three kids and a cat who thinks he's a dog.
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?
I totally agree! If any one of those elements is missing, plot suffers and the story limps along. Without a good, strong plot, a story will ramble and lose readers. It will also be difficult to create a strong synopsis (a necessity to grasp both an agent and a publisher's attention!) and a compelling blurb for your back cover. Every book and every story or poem we write should create an impact on readers and tell them a bit about us as the authors.
1. How do you create your characters? Do you have a specific method?
I don't have a real method for creating characters. They seem to come to mind as I write about situations. Names and descriptions "feel" right and I sometimes find pictures off the internet or from magazines to keep their images in front of me as I work. Some characters, such as Mimsy Lexington in The Bookstore Lady, are composites of people and personalities that have been snipped from real life and blended with others.
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?
My characters usually come before the plot, which is sometimes woven from writing prompts in group meetings (I've belonged to the Headwaters Writers' Guild for several years). Most of the time, I start with a situation and a character or two then weave the plot around them. I do a rough outline sketch, but even that can change as my characters evolve.
3. Do you know how the story will end before you begin? In a general way or a specific one?
In general, I usually know how the story will end before I begin. The Bookstore Lady, however, went through three completely different endings before my agent and I were satisfied!4. Do you choose settings you know or do you have books of settings and plans of houses sitting around?
My stories are loosely based on places I know. Both Tales and Retales and Java Jo's Coffee House are based on local stores. Father Sam's house with the statue in the front yard, was a house I walked past every day while I worked on the book! When I need to become more detailed, such as in a couple of upcoming books in the Wild Blue Mysteries series, I turn to the internet or real estate magazines for floor plans and settings.
5. Where do you do your research? On line or from books?
Most of my research is done on-line although I do have shelves of books about many things! I also spend a lot of time in bookstores -- both new and used. I also like to "pick the brains" of some of my fellow writers and martial artists who give me new ideas and can answer inane questions about just about anything!
6. Are you a draft writer or do you revise as you go along and why?
Definitely a draft writer! I prefer to get absorbed and finish a manuscript then tuck it away for a couple weeks or more then pick it up when I'm not so attached to it and revise until my head spins. Working with a couple of friends and my agent, Dawn Dowdle, I have learned a great deal about editing and what makes my stories stronger. I find that I do more revising as I go now so a final edit isn't nearly as painful as it was even a year ago.