{guest post} my writing process ~ Amanda G. Stevens

So, when I did the blog hop last week, one of the first writing friends I was most curious about was Amanda G. Stevens, who is releasing a series with David C. Cook that I can’t wait to get my hands on! Now, Amanda has a website that doesn’t include a blog, but I figured why should we let that stop the fun?? So I’m inviting her here today to share her answers to the writing process blog hop. Take it away, Amanda!

AmandaStevensLaurie kindly invited me to participate in this blog hop without realizing I don’t have a blog (just a website!). Then she kindly invited me to guest post on her blog so I could still be part of the fun. Thanks, Laurie! Here goes.

What am I currently working on? I’m writing an adult dystopian series (called Haven Seekers) in which the government has seized control of the church and re-translated the Bible, and a specialized police force called the Constabulary enforces these regulations. My main character is a stubborn guy named Marcus who wants to protect his Christian “family.” At the moment, the first book is out for edits with my publisher, David C Cook; the second book is with my agent; and the fourth book is fighting me every step of the first draft process. (But all my books fight me in the first draft process.)

How does my work differ from others in its genre? I theorize that for a speculative author, I write backward. Most speculative fiction emphasizes the premise/storyworld as the selling point, but characters always come into my head first and mold everything else including the storyworld. I never set out to write speculative at all, actually, but my characters wanted to fight in some sort of resistance. I’m intimidated by historical (convinced someone who’s done more research would read it and see all my errors), so I created a world of my own.

Why do I write what I do? Because I love my characters and want others to love them, too. Everything I do as an author is really for them. Along the way, I want to be honest—about the darkness of the world we live in and about the only true Light, Jesus Christ. And I want to create the most excellent art I can for His glory.

How does your writing process work? I hate to draft and love to edit. Because this is a series, I’ve needed a basic idea of where I’m going in future books in order to set things up properly, but I don’t outline the whole book. It’s more a knowledge of where the characters should be by the end, and then the book is one surprise after another as they show me how they get there. This applies to physical obstacles in the plot as well as emotional steps in the character arc. Wherever I am in drafting, I like to know what’s going to happen for the next couple chapters, but that’s about as far as I can ever plan anything. Editing is the place I sharpen the setups and conflicts as well as the prose. Oh, and I rarely have a clue what my themes are until I’ve revised and edited a few times. Sometimes, not even then. It’s not uncommon for a reader to point out the themes of my own book to me.

Thanks again to Laurie for hosting me. I’ll be followed next Monday by Emilie and Varina. Be sure to check out their posts on their own writing process. (And unlike me, they each have a blog, so you can find them at the links below!)

Emilie Hendryx is a small town girl who moved to the big city of Los Angeles then, after 6 years there, took the step of faith to move to Washington, D.C. to help plant a church. She is a writer, photographer/owner at E.A. Creative Photography, and a musician.  A member American Christian Fiction Writers, she loves to read and write Christian fiction (romantic suspense to be specific). She’s also active on her blog Thinking Thoughts, which features author interviews, book reviews, writing tips, and some personal posts thrown in. She believes in doing all things for God’s glory (1 Cor. 10:31) and her passion for Christ fuels everything she does. In her free time, you can find her curled up with a book and a cup of coffee.

An avid reader and blogger, Varina Denman enjoys writing fiction about Christian women and the unique struggles they face. She seems to have a knack for describing small town life, and is currently working on a three book Texas series which will soon be published by David C. Cook. The first book in the series, Jaded, won the 2013 ACFW Genesis contest for romance.

Author Michelle Lim is the Brainstorming/Huddle Coach with My Book Therapy Press and the Midwest Zone Director for American Christian Fiction Writers. Michelle’s romantic suspense is represented with Books & Such Literary Agency. Michelle writes devotionals for The Christian Pulse Online and Putting On The New as well as articles for her own blog, thoughtsonplot@wordpress.com. Since her nonfiction book release, Idea Sparking: How To Brainstorm Conflict In Your Novel, through public speaking and online chats Michelle helps writers discover the revolutionary power of brainstorming to bring new life to their stories.

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  • Jaime wright says:

    I love that!! “Create the most excellent art for his glory”. I might frame that quote. It would be a fabulous reminder!!!!

  • I’m so with you on the characters! For me, it all starts with them. But I have to say, I adore first drafts and cringe at revising. I weave in so many pieces as I’m writing, revising is like removing a single thread from a tapestry without letting the whole darn thing unravel. So messy! I much prefer the fresh, clean slate potential of a first draft. But I think we share a “figure it out as you go” perspective on writing. Isn’t it great to be surprised by your characters? 🙂

    • It’s sometimes great to be surprised by my characters. Other times, I have a scene in my head and a goal for that scene and I get into the moment and … Character Mutiny. Especially my protagonist, Marcus (if there were Character Awards, he’d win Most Stubborn). It’s inconvenient when the entire scene has to be rethought or, worse, rewritten; and I’m sure this has happened to you as well! I think it happens to all us organic writers. Ultimately, though, yes–I love being surprised. It’s at that point I know I’m doing something right.

      And I do not understand you first-draft-is-the-best people. 😉 Ack, that maddening blank page.

  • I love what you said about readers pointing out your themes to you, Amanda. It can be easy for writers to get caught up in their book’s theme because they’ve been told they have to have one and miss the importance of the story. And I “plot” like you too — I know, for the most part, where the characters are heading but I’m not sure how they’ll get there.

    It was fun reading this. Thanks, Amanda!

    • Sharyn, some schools of thought even recommend *starting* with theme, in the form of either a statement or a question. No way I could write a good novel if I focused on “okay, this will be a book about trust/forgiveness/obedience/whatever” before I even had a story. My take is that you can’t write a novel *without* a theme. Themes just show up. So let them.

      Glad you enjoyed my post! 🙂

  • I’m with you. First drafts are what almost break me (Laurie can attest!). Once I’ve got that done, it’s all uphill from there!

    • Kara, exactly! The rest of the process is hard work, sure, but exhilarating hard work. First drafts kill. I think it’s because there’s so much emotional energy required for getting this stuff from my head/heart to the paper. Once it’s out, I’m good to go. Good to know I’m not the only one. 🙂

  • Connie Hendryx says:

    Great “interview!” Thanks for sharing your blog with Amanda!