Welcome back to Week 2 of the Process Project Blog series! Today is a continuation of yesterday’s interview with J.C. Davis. Click here to catch up on the first half of our interview where we talked about how and why she writes. Today, we will find out a little more about how she writes and revises!
J: When you are preparing to write a new story, what kinds of techniques or methods do you use to organize your ideas?
JC: When I first get an idea, I jot it down on anything close to hand: the computer, a random bit of paper. At the first opportunity, I go into my computer, start a new Scrivener project and jot down everything I can about the idea. Later I'll flesh out details, but in that initial phase it's all about getting ideas on paper as quickly as possible. As other tidbits of info come to me, I'll add them as well. When I feel like I have enough of a story to go somewhere, I create a loose outline and start working from that. I'm a bit of a pantser but I still need a vague idea of where I'm headed and what's happening along the way. My initial story outline and ideas are usually wildly different from the end product, but the basic germ of the idea is there. My process is continually evolving as well so I try different techniques with each story and novel.
J: While you are working on a piece, do you have any particular way that you structure your work?
JC: I tend to use a rough outline. I use Scrivener for all my writing and I love, love, love the corkboard view with its little virtual note cards. I often create a bunch of blank note cards, jot scene ideas on them and then drag them around and fill in the gaps with other scenes until I've got a semblance of structure. Despite how organized that sounds, quite often while I'm writing a scene it may twist in a completely different direction and I follow wherever my fingers lead and worry about cleaning up the narrative later.
J: When it's time to revise/edit your work, do you have any particular methods that you use to help you through the process?
JC: I make a new copy of my file before I begin revisions so I always have that first copy to refer back to. Then I sort of dive into revisions. I make several passes, each focusing on different areas: plot consistency, sub-plots, foreshadowing, character development. As I go along I do line edits as well, tightening words and scenes as needed. I run a small writing group off of Scribophile.com so I actually post chapters after I finish them. Which is helpful for keeping my momentum going and having critique partners point out errors as I go. It helps my first draft stay fairly clean - though structurally it may be a mess. It also means my poor initial critique partners get to see my story waffling all about as I find my place. After I've finished the entire novel and my first revision I send it off to a different set of beta readers and wait for their feedback. Then revise. Resend. Rinse, lather, repeat until the manuscript is in good shape. With my current novel there have been half a dozen different revision passes.
I want to thank J.C. for taking time from her writing, work, and family to answer these questions for us! Reading her answers can help all of us with our own writing processes. Thank you, J.C.!
What to read more by J.C.? Her short stories have appeared in Bastion Science Fiction Magazine, Writing Tomorrow, and Spark: A Creative Anthology among others. You can find links to all of her work here: J.C. Davis. A programmer by day, J.C. Davis writes Young Adult & Middle Grade fiction, the occasional short story and has far too many hobbies to keep up with. She lives in Dallas, Texas with her husband, two kids and a hedgehog named Percy Jackson. A second-generation book addict, she has piles of books in her house and a serious picture book habit that's transferred to both of her kids. Family visits to the library are a frequent and necessary thing in her household. She adores Doctor Who, Harry Potter and has an unnatural affinity for Monty Python skits.