• Fred Charles

Writing Process with Christine L. Roland

Happy Wednesday, and welcome to this week's Writing Process interview. This week, we have my good friend Christine L. Roland, YA author and Chick-Fil-A ice aficionado!

Who Are You?

I’m a fantasy novelist in the Young Adult genre, and author of the upcoming books; The Merchant's Stars and Monsters Only I Can See. I pride myself on being an active member of the writing community and strive to help other new writers reach their author potential.

What are three things that you absolutely need in order to write?

I really don’t need much to write. I can write anywhere, anytime the thought strikes me. I simply need something to jot my thoughts down on. If I don’t document as the thoughts come to me, I WILL forget. So a phone, piece of paper, or napkin could be sacrificed to my writing fevers. I do enjoy a burning candle and ice cold, chick-fil-a coke (they have that “good” ice.)

Most writers have many ideas swimming around their heads competing for attention. How do you decide which idea is worth working on?

When I have multiple ideas in my head at once, I choose the one I can develop the most at that given time. There are a few reasons I chose to start my writing career with my current WIP, The Merchant’s Stars:

It’s a single book, not a series. Single books are easier to market.The other story I have in my head deals with heavy topics including depression and trauma. I wanted to develop my skills as a writer before tackling those topics. I want to give each story the utmost respect and care it deserves and I don’t think my skills are quite there yet.

When you decide on a writing project, how much do you plan upfront?

When I first begin a new project I generally have some idea about the character and the world surrounding them. However, I must develop that world and backstory as thoroughly as I can before writing that character’s story. I like to know as much detail about the setting and political atmosphere that my character will be navigating. I learned this trick from Donald Maass in his book, The Emotional Craft of Fiction. I also like to know their past struggles and experiences. It’s these wounds which will help me craft their current story. I prefer to write out the major plot points and the 15 beats found in Save the Cat Writes a Novel, by Jessica Brody.

All writers experience writer’s block from time to time. What you do to get unstuck?

Because I plot so thoroughly, I don’t get “blocked” very often. I usually know where my character needs to go next in their story. What I do get stuck on is dialogue. I’m a woman of few conversations. When my characters come together, I often find them just staring, cutting glances, or grinning at each other. The great thing about writing is that I can cut out all of real life’s weather talk and focus on the words my characters need to say to make an impact. To channel that energy, I have a few tips.

Decide where your character needs to go not only in their plot points but for their emotional arc as well. Jot down the feelings they should evoke in this scene.Use this gathered information to develop an interaction that will trigger the reactions (internal emotions) and actions (external conversation or physical movement) which need to be expressed in that scene.

Tell me something about your writing process that is quirky and unique to you.

My quirkiest writing technique is that I edit as I go and I like it that way. When I have a revelation about a character's line or possibly a chance to go back a foreshadow something, I take that opportunity. I can’t imagine having written an entire draft having not done this in my first draft. I would have been swamped and overwhelmed. Honestly, I would have looked at the number of changes I needed to make and given up. This process does make my drafting phase longer, but my editing phase is a breeze. The key to making this work is to stick only to developmental edits. DO NOT get dragged behind in line edits during your first draft phase!

When are you most productive? When are you least productive?

Not to sound too whimsical, but productivity strikes and dips at the drop of a hat for me. I often find that if I have other responsibilities in the back of my mind that I need to attend to, I bottle up anxiety when I’m trying to write. As long as I feel free from other duties, I can be productive.

It's my birthday and you want to give me a book. Which book do you get me and why?

Books are the only gifts I give and I try to gift ones in the genre the recipient would appreciate. In the interest of marketing myself to my own friends, I’d give them The Remnant Chronicles by Mary E Pearson because I relate my story to her characters. She writes independent females, responsible characters who are willing to put duty before selfish pleasure, and heart-wrenching moral conflict.

Now, the fun part: What is one question that you want me to ask the next interviewee, not knowing who it is?

For the next interviewee, I’d like to know what is something all of your novels have in common? Is it the characters, themes, settings, or moral ambiguity?

Bonus Question submitted by K. Radcliff: What’s your favorite way to deal with a manuscript rejection?

I’ve yet to experience a manuscript rejection - only because I’ve never submitted one! I expect them. I expect MANY of them. I do hope my research in agents can reduce not necessarily rejections in general, but the length of time I query for. When I do get those rejections I know I need to modify my query letter and direct them toward agents who are looking for my style of writing. I don’t wallow. I conquer.

What are you working on and where can readers find you?

I’m currently drafting my first novel, The Merchant’s Stars. It’s a YA political low fantasy filled with rich culture and a wide cast of interlaced characters. It follows a hard-headed, but shrewd female protagonist who wishes to insert herself into her country’s unique political system in order to preserve the sovereignty of her falling nation. Though shes savvy on the matter of creating revenue, she learns that money can’t save them and she might have to let go everything she’s trying to cling to in order to save them. You can discover more about my WIP and find more writing tips on my author website at authorclroland.com and on Instagram @christinelroland. I look forward to connecting with everyone!

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