Walk me through your writing process. (For example: what kind of pre-writing do you do? Do you have a particular strategy that helps you plot? What keeps you going through drafting? And how do approach self-editing before you’ve gotten feedback?)
I always, always, always start with world building. For me, I need to know the wheres and the hows before I can figure out the whos and the whats. I need to know what type of world the characters will be inhabiting way before I start worrying about plot and extra details. I want to know what the architecture is like, what the politics and religions are. What does the air smell like? What are the rules, the limitations? I want to know the feeling of the place, the weather, and what the light looks like. I keep a separate journal for world creation and fill it with maps and charts, details of locations and ideas. Whenever I start to feel adrift in the drafting process, I can come back to the journal to remember what was important to me as I began.
With House of Salt and Sorrows, it started with an isolated manor on a cliff over a cold, stormy ocean. I layered in more Gothic drear and gloom and discovered Annaleigh, started building her family. My initial plot idea was to expand on the “Annabel Lee” poem, by Edgar Allan Poe. I started the opening chapters soooo many times. It wasn’t until I thought to add in the sparkling “Twelve Dancing Princesses” element that everything really clicked into place.
"House of Salt and Sorrows went through a total of seven major revisions from first draft to the final published book."
One I’ve got my plot mostly hammered out, I write up a synopsis so I can set up pacing and all the important moments to hit. I also make myself a chapter by chapter outline so I know the key points of each. Sometimes I’ll even go back to my stage management roots and create a French scene breakdown, showing which characters come in and out of the chapters, what necessary items they might have or what their agenda is. None of these are set in stone—as I begin drafting, new ideas can pop up so the documents all shift as I go through the writing process.
House of Salt and Sorrows went through a total of seven major revisions from first draft to the final published book. Since then, I always have those notes in the back of my mind as I start new projects. I’m more aware of the crutches I tend to lean on—filler words, phrases I tend to repeat, etc, etc—and it helps having that in the back of my mind as I start self-editing!
Can you talk a little about your experience with CPs (critique partners)?
I met my critique partner and bestie (hey Hannah Whitten!) while waiting to hear if I’d been selected for a spot in Pitch Madness three years ago. Everyone was playing different games on the hashtag when I stumbled across someone asking if anyone was interested in forming a beta group for retellings. At the time, I was querying a Peter Pan retelling and so badly wanted to join but thought she was far too cool to hang out with the likes of me. I was very new to Writer Twitter and still learning a lot of the ropes. But I decided to be brave and replying to her tweet was one o