Thursday, November 21, 2013

Guest Post: Tracy E. Banghart

Today, I am pleased to hand the blog over to Tracy E. Banghart. Tracey has written an excellent post about her writing process in honor of NaNoWriMo (which I am totally behind in right now). I hope you all enjoy! :)

Thanks again, Tracy!!

My Writing Process – An Evolution

Ashley invited me to Wholly Books to talk about my writing process in honor of NaNoWriMo. Thanks so much for having me, Ashley!

The thing about my writing process is…it’s changed. You hear all the time about authors and their “formulas” or “she’s a pantser” or outliner or whatever. I’m working on my fourth novel now, and the truth is, my process is completely different this time around.

My first completed novel, Moon Child, was actually a Nano novel. Up to that point I’d begun a lot of projects, even gotten about 40k into one…but I’d never been able to go the distance. I’d get stuck or bored or distracted…and put it away, move on. It was a terrible habit and one I had to break. So, when I heard about National Novel Writing Month, I knew this was my chance. Nano TOTALLY worked for me. The forums filled with commiserating writers, the challenge of the word count graph, the email pep talks…the whole structure of Nano was the kick in the butt I needed to bang out a short, messy COMPLETE first draft.

I think, at the time, actually FINISHING was the biggest mental hurdle I had to leap. After I’d proven to myself I could do it, the actual finishing took less of my focus. With my second novel, By Blood, I gave myself a little more time. I still wrote fast (and kept my own daily word count chart) but I had space to be a little more thoughtful, to plan a bit more. I fell into the habit of taking notes for the next scene when I was finished writing for the day, so I’d know where to begin next time. I still do this…it’s a great way to overcome the pressure of a blank page.

When revisions of my third novel, Shattered Veil (also a Nano book) ended up taking years, I made a realization about my writing. Up to that point I’d been writing short first drafts…blowing through the story, rushing to the end as if scared (still) that I wouldn’t make it. My first drafts were filled with holes: missing scenes, absent character development, huge chunks of telling instead of showing. In revision, I had to unpack those rushed scenes. I had to fill in the blanks.

To be honest, it can be really hard to tell where the blanks are. I relied so much on my critique partners telling me where they felt the story was “missing something”...instead of polishing and adding nuance, my first several revision rounds consisted of writing entirely new scenes. Even occasionally creating new characters.

So, with my current work in progress, I decided to try something different. I told myself I’d write EVERYTHING down…and cut later. I wouldn’t watch the clock, I wouldn’t count words…I’d just write every detail that came to me and worry about whether it was “too much” later.

It’s taken me a lot longer to write this novel (definitely NOT Nano-worthy). But I’ve found that slowing down, taking my time, has made this first draft cleaner and more complete than any of the others. Maybe it’ll require less revision. One can hope. ;)

But one thing I’ve learned in comparing both processes….a good book takes time to write. Whether it’s time at the revision stage, where a messy first draft is painstakingly groomed into something beautiful…or at the first draft stage, each word carefully considered and given weight…if you want to write a good book, you have to do what works for you. And it’s okay to take the time – at the beginning or later in the process – to slow down, be thoughtful, and make sure the story you’re trying to tell has made it onto the page.

Whether you’re a slow writer, fast writer, plotter or pantser, it’s all about finding the best way to tell YOUR story. Good luck to everybody participating in Nano…and to everyone – Nano or not – who is striving towards those two magical words…


About the Author

Tracy E. Banghart is the author of YA novels By Blood and Moon Child, and the forthcoming NA scifi Shattered Veil (Feb 2014). She’s an Army wife, Mom, and cupcake connoisseur.

About the Books

Moon Child

A Companion to By Blood

Before Emma's adventures in Oxford, her best friend Diana came face-to-face with a killer...

Diana Calvert is so over high school. Who cares if Olivia hates her? And David needs to forget about having a crush on her STAT. Even Emma’s crazy fashion choices can’t keep Diana entertained. All she can hope for is a dance scholarship to a college as far away as possible from too-small, too-boring, too-nothing-ever-happens New Freedom, PA.

Then Diana meets Nicholas Woodhaven. He’s pale, angry…yet weirdly charming. And she can’t stop thinking about him. The more time they spend together, the more she wonders who – or what – he really is. Because he isn’t anything like the other guys she knows. Not with the whole only-going-out-at-night thing. And living with his creepy aunt instead of his parents. Not to mention, he doesn't even go to school!

Just when Diana thinks she’s got Nicholas all figured out, people in her small, nothing-ever-happens town start dying. She has to wonder – can she trust him? And even more alarming – could she be next?

A murder mystery with a paranormal twist, Moon Child is best read under the covers with a flashlight...if you dare!
Add to your shelf on Goodreads!
Now available on Amazon!

By Blood

A Companion Novel to Moon Child

For 17-year-old Emma Wong, spending a summer in England should be a dream come true. Gorgeous scenery? Check. Lots of hot guys with accents? Yes, please.
Spending two months with her mom, Dr. Mike (don’t call him her stepdad), and their pooping, puking infant son? Not what she had in mind. It’s a disaster even her favorite cherry red leather jacket can’t fix (leather and spit-up do notmix).
Not only does she get put on diaper duty (gag), but there’s also Dr. Mike’s cute research assistant to contend with. The only thing more embarrassing than her trying to plant one on him hours after they meet is knowing he’ll be a witness to her family’s dysfunction all. summer. long.
So when Emma meets a mysterious girl who happens to be a Druid, the summer suddenly promises to be far more intriguing than she expected. Powerful rituals, new friends, an intoxicating sense of freedom...and Simon, the sexy foreign stranger she was hoping for. It’s all a perfect distraction from dirty diapers and awkward family dinners.
Trouble is, intriguing doesn’t often mean simple. And Emma is about to discover just how not simple her life really is.
Add to your shelf on Goodreads!
Now available on Amazon, and most ebook retailers.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for having me, Ashley! Good luck with Nano! :-)


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