Jennifer Lyon

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011
The Backward Proposal

Today’s post is some thoughts about my writing process.  Feel free to escape now!

Yesterday really got away from me. But I did hear from my agent, and I will be doing another round of revisions on the Dragons. I am closer but not there yet. My agent loves the idea, loves the story, but it’s a matter getting the opening pages the right balance of exciting and informative that is a struggle.

This isn’t a surprise to me and that’s because this has been a truly backward proposal for me. My normal process is to start with a premise and a character or two,  and then grow from there.  But this time, I had the huge world in my mind, I knew what kinds of characters people the world, but not who they are in terms of goals, motivation and conflict. This immediately set up a problem–trying to distill down a complex world into bite sized pieces through the characters.

Another backward thing? The synopsis is working, it’s the chapters that need a bit more finessing. I normally can rock out the chapters and then get tripped up in ugly ways with the synopsis.

Backwards! And really enlightening as I’m seeing my strengths and weaknesses from another angle and I think that will help me get stronger as a writer.

This week, I’m going to continue working on my other proposal to bang out as much as I can. Then I’ll set that aside to work on the dragons.  In the proposal for this week, I’m going with my normal process of character(s) first and it’s coming much faster so far.  The reason for that is simple–when I’m in the character’s head, and we learn about the world together, and it is MUCH easier to feed that knowledge to the reader in increments that don’t feel overwhelming.  But when I know so much more about the world than the character–it leads to clunky telling and unnecessary info dumping because I don’t really know what info is vital to the story at that moment and what is not.

And that was probably way more than you all wanted to know about my writing process!

6 comments to “The Backward Proposal”

  1. Viki S.
    November 1st, 2011 at 3:09 am · Link

    Wow, I can understand how this could be difficult when it’s not your standard method. But it seems like this is how this particular work wants to come about. I’m glad you have gone with it. I think it’s always good to explore new ways of doing things. They may not always work but how do you know until your try. Hey, you may find you work well both ways :).
    That said, I’m wishing you good will with both proposals because I like your work – more books for me ;).

  2. B.E Sanderson
    November 1st, 2011 at 8:04 am · Link

    Seeing another writer’s process is always interesting. I usually have some kind of plot in mind and then build the characters and the world. Other than that, every book seems to stomp its feet and demand its own process. Brats. ;o)

    Good luck getting your brats… I mean, books in shape.

  3. Jen Lyon
    November 1st, 2011 at 11:19 am · Link

    Viki, thanks for the support and thoughts! Learning new ways of approaching a project. This method should, theoretically, be more logical. But somehow, that is draining some of the emotion. It’s all weird. But I’ll get it right or die trying :-)

  4. Jen Lyon
    November 1st, 2011 at 11:20 am · Link

    Thanks B.E. Right now the book feels very bratty.

  5. Silver James
    November 1st, 2011 at 12:18 pm · Link

    Interesting peek into your head, Jen. I’ve given up trying to define my process. Like BE, it sort of depends on the book. You’ll get the dragons sorted out and the new project sounds fun! The main thing is, it’s delightful to see you excited about writing again! Go you! *shakes pompoms*

  6. Jen Lyon
    November 1st, 2011 at 1:48 pm · Link

    Silver, thanks. Excited isn’t quite the word today :-)

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