Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Devil in The Details: I Don't Make It All Up

By J.C. Lynne

The Beard and I attended the birthday party of one of my favorite people last night. It was a gathering of her friends, strangers to us. I’m not crazy about meeting a group of strangers, but I’m working on it. 

The whole author thing, you know. Enjoying isolation while being conscientious about marketing my work. 

Interestingly, the group was made up of several authors. One, the author of peaceful conflict resolution children’s book. One, the author of a massage therapy textbook. And the last, in the process of writing a historical novel about the early eugenics movement. 

It ended up being a pretty interesting evening. Even after I appropriated someone’s hamburger from the grill and almost found myself tackled during recovery. Okay, not tackled, but heckled vigorously none the less. 

In the discussion about writing, we came round to subject matter. How did I choose my topic? How did I come up with my idea? Isn’t it great being able to make stuff up? 

Afterward, I thought of a conversation I had with an author I met at ReadCon. Marie Sexton writes gay romance novels. First let me say, I bow to Marie because as much as the Beard would like me to write romance novels, I don’t think I have the knack. 

Marie and I were talking at ReadCon. She writes four or five novels a year. I may take a year to finish one novel. It’s the difference between genres and authors. Everyone’s process is different. 

What would I give to be able to power through four novels a year? It would be worth it to avoid this post-novel funk of ‘what if I can’t write another one’?

I’m in that space currently. It’s a painful limbo. The second novel complete, but not quite to the publisher. Two or three new projects lined up. Two or three novels started but not making noise. A reading list as long as my arm and a bedroom remodel driving me to distraction. 

Blah, blah, blah, my job is so hard. 

I like to know as much about the worlds in my novels as possible. If a character lives in Florida, I immerse my creative mind in concrete details. I also tell The Beard I need a month in Florida, but he’s not going for it. If I’m talking about science, say in a military spy thriller, cough cough, I want to ensure the science is accurate. 

Sure I make things up, but I also spend thousands of hours of research along the way so that I can embed those imaginary things in concrete detail.

I don’t mind. I like to know things. Of course, I’m still trying to get through the foreword of Regenesis: How Synthetic Biology Will Reinvent Nature and Ourselves. A little light reading suggested by the Beard. Next up, passive solar, water reclamation, and hydroponic farming for my dystopian fantasy trilogy. That doesn’t include the reading of novels of similar ilk, like Neal Stephenson’s Seveneves. 
I Might Be Biased, But Love The Cover

Writing a novel is a complex, multi-layered process for me. It begins with a story idea that leads to a wormhole of background research both about characters and setting.

I don’t mind. Sometimes research is the only way to find entry into a story that fights me every step of the way. 

And sometimes it’s a great way to avoid the laundry. 

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