Evangeline Holland

Sweeping Drama ⚜ Larger than Life History ⚜ Exquisite Romance ⚜ Diverse Perspectives
March 31st, 2014

Blog Hop: My Writing Process

Thank you Ellie Ash for inviting me on this blog hop!

What am I working on?

The sequel to An Ideal Duchess, titled A Duchess’s Heart, and a variety of other things. I’ve found that my anxiety over writing decreases when I work on multiple projects.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

First, I am writing an unrecognized genre (Romantic Historical Fiction), secondly, I write books in less popular settings (compared to Regency, Tudor, Victorian), and lastly, the romantic relationships in my books move in tandem with the familial relationships and friendships.

Why do I write what I do?

I write modern (historical) domestic fiction because the inner lives of women fascinate me. Through my characters I can explore a variety of questions and issues and watch how different types of women interact with and react to them.

How does your writing process work?

I have to allow an idea and the characters to percolate in my brain for a bit. Even if I get a burst of inspiration that results in an amazing synopsis/outline, I have to allow it to settle in my gut so I can “feel” the turning points, the themes, etc before sitting down to write. This can take a few months to a few years–and there have been stories I attempted in the past but was not mature enough or ready to write until much later. I am also incredibly analytical, and the pieces must fit together. Once all of this happens, I can bang out a first draft in a 1-2 months.

April 7th, 2013

On Completing Mine Is The Night

 "Dancing In Party Club" by photostock

“Dancing In Party Club” by photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

At approximately 2:30 AM I typed the final word on my WIP, Mine Is The Night! I’ve been writing off and on since 2010, but this is the first MS completed after my interesting and thought-provoking experiences of the previous year.

Lessons Learned

:

Push through even when I think I’m pounding out dreck. – Nine times out of ten, I will re-read what I’ve written and find that it’s not as bad as I thought.

Recognize the times during the drafting process where I easily lose focus and enthusiasm. – I get wobbly and impatient around the ends of each act when my brain jumps ahead of my story.

Don’t be afraid to write when I’m tired. – Discovering that I’m nearing midnight and have 1-2k left in my word count goal did much to suppress my internal editor because I just wanted to finish for the night!!

Read more in the genre in which I write! – Many dips in my confidence occurred when I second-guessed whether I was writing historical romance the “right way.” I spent most of the past 12-16 months reading non-fiction and historical fiction, with dips into contemporary and paranormal romance, but there was a sharp decline in my historical romance reading. So I must fill up the well.

On that same note: trust my voice and storytelling instincts in spite of my reading. – I took a break last Monday & Tuesday to devour Sherry Thomas’s Fitzhugh Trilogy, which I absolutely adored. They gave me a huge boost of confidence in my WIP, but then I fell into the dreaded trap of comparing my first draft to those revised, rewritten, and professionally edited books! So though I was fully immersed in three great books and found them fun to study from a craft perspective, I had to pull back and realize those were uniquely Sherry Thomas stories, just as my MS is uniquely my own.

I must be my first and best cheerleader. – Pessimism and self-condemnation are easy emotions to wallow in, especially when I approach something as creative and uncontrollable as writing. Since rejection (and bad reviews!) are an inevitable part of this gig, why indulge in the negativity before and during the process of writing?

Know when to hold ’em, and know when to fold ’em. – I used to psych myself out by jumping in to discuss the writing, my word count, my goals, my plans, my plot, etc etc because I was so excited by the WIP. Then I realized I’d hyped my emotions to such a fever pitch and piled on expectations to the point where all I could think about was All The Work!! This time around, I mentioned things casually and briefly, thereby giving myself permission to tell the story to me first.

Never underestimate the feeling of having written! – I didn’t realize how grouchy I could get when I couldn’t get back to my laptop at my appointed time to write each day. I think some family members were on the receiving end of the evil eye when they disrupted my schedule, LOL.

YAY!

So I have an 80,000 word manuscript and oddly enough, I can’t wait to dig into revisions!

What say you? Any lessons learned during your writing process? How do you feel after completing a novel? Any advise for tackling revisions?

March 28th, 2013

Writing In The Here and Now

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A good book is essentially about action, whether it be the heart-pounding type of The Da Vinci Code or the subtly-wound type of Gone Girl, or even how and when the protagonists are going to reach their HEA moment. Though it’s easy to think action=murder, explosions, whodunnit, sex, war, death, etc, action is also part of characterization–why does a mousy, conscientious librarian waive the overdue fine of a handsome, mysterious stranger? How does she react to her decision, and what comes of it?

Mine Is The Night is probably the first truly character-driven book I’ve ever written. My past MSS have been quite plotty, wherein I would set up a bunch of characters and scenarios and let them scatter across the place like marbles until they braided back into one another at the end. The novels ended up slighty episodic–rather TV series like–but with such a large cast of characters, as well as a lengthy time-line in which to develop them all, I could hold things back, tease secrets for a little while, and play the action with a sleight of hand.

This MS on the other hand takes place over a period of ten days and is all about my protagonists, Huw and Leonore. Since I’d grown accustomed to having lots of room in which to play with various characters, conflicts, and plots, whenever I experienced an Ah Ha! moment for my protagonists, I was tempted to save it for later in the book–or for the next book in the series. During my attempts to hold onto plot twists and character revealing moments, I would meander from the main plot–Romance Writing Don’t 101!–and accidentally set up dynamics that muddled with the characters and the plot. Quite frankly, I also bored myself, and if I’m bored, everyone else is going to be bored.

When I caught myself doing this for the umpteenth time, I just threw what I thought I should hide into my book, and what do you know: it ramped up the tension and conflict and it made my characters move, which in turn moved the plot. And my Ah Ha! moment was in finally understanding the mechanics of the character-driven novel. It also helped me see the pitfalls of writing connected books!

What about you? Plot-driven or character-driven author? Have you recently experienced an Ah Ha! moment in your writing? What are some of your favorite techniques for coaxing the book/characters into action?