Now it’s my turn to welcome you all to the Word Wenches parlor.  I’m one of The Susans here, Susan King, also writing as Sarah Gabriel (so I’ll be Susan Sarah — it will be easy to tell the difference. Susan Miranda is taller, trust me).
Pat and some others were talking about writing methods, so I’ll pick up on that thread and describe my general process (maybe another Wench or two will chime in with their approaches. For every writer, there’s a different method and a unique Muse).
Structure? Whuzzat?
I start with a nugget idea (where that comes from is anyone’s guess, and fodder for future posts), and then I come up with an outline that leads to a synopsis. With a notebook or notecards to keep stuff all in one place (I’m paper-challenged, though I did take graduate courses such as Writing Stuff on Notecards 601), I start listing ideas, character traits, conflicts, whatever I can think of. Oh, and there’s research, lots of lovely historical research. Yum.
This is the stage that’s the slow climb up the mountain, wheels creaking…
When I start writing, it’s slow at first, with all that thinking and note-scribbling going on, but it snowballs. Despite every intention to Be More Organized This Time, eventually I’ve had enough of structure. Tolerance level reached.
By the end I am rushing down Story Mountain at breakneck speed, writing 10, 20, even 30 + pages a day. I’ve lost that outline and tossed the lists out the window. I’m happiest working late at night when the characters are walking and talking on their own, and solving story problems without the aid of outline or idea list…my fingers are racing over the keyboard, and I can blithely ignore my sons and husband (are there any clean socks? who’s going to the grocery store? OK we’re ordering out again….).
Thankfully, the subconscious is a remarkable thing, and the foundation work I did in the beginning is still there, and has been hard at work on its own, so that the story comes together in sometimes surprising ways.
And then I clean up the place and start all over again: ideas, outline, research, slow creaking climb up the mountain….
I’m not sure what use this is to other writers, since we are all so different, but there it is: my method, nurtured years ago when I pulled all-nighters in art history graduate school, and discovered that I did better writing thirty and forty page papers in the middle of the night, a day or so before they were due, than writing papers in more logical ways. And I enjoyed the process more.
I am right-brained. What can I say. Is there a treatment for that?
Susan Sarah

21 thoughts on “”

  1. If I could pull off all-nighters without collapsing in a puddle of weeping exhaustion or just stressing out and running around the house like a berserker, I’d love to try this method! I love the process of developing the story, when all things are possible. It’s pulling those danged words out and getting them down right that takes me forever, so I just don’t dare the luxury of waiting for that downhill slide.
    Pat

    Reply
  2. If I could pull off all-nighters without collapsing in a puddle of weeping exhaustion or just stressing out and running around the house like a berserker, I’d love to try this method! I love the process of developing the story, when all things are possible. It’s pulling those danged words out and getting them down right that takes me forever, so I just don’t dare the luxury of waiting for that downhill slide.
    Pat

    Reply
  3. If I could pull off all-nighters without collapsing in a puddle of weeping exhaustion or just stressing out and running around the house like a berserker, I’d love to try this method! I love the process of developing the story, when all things are possible. It’s pulling those danged words out and getting them down right that takes me forever, so I just don’t dare the luxury of waiting for that downhill slide.
    Pat

    Reply
  4. Hello, Susan. I remember reading your Highlander books for Susan King. But I have a question for you now, maybe this can be an essay for this site. Why do authors choose different names? I understand why Nora Roberts does her future books as JD Robb because they are different from her usual books, but your Sara Gabriel book looks the same like your other books.Very confusing to readers!
    I am looking forward to reading your Sara Gabriel book, though.

    Reply
  5. Hello, Susan. I remember reading your Highlander books for Susan King. But I have a question for you now, maybe this can be an essay for this site. Why do authors choose different names? I understand why Nora Roberts does her future books as JD Robb because they are different from her usual books, but your Sara Gabriel book looks the same like your other books.Very confusing to readers!
    I am looking forward to reading your Sara Gabriel book, though.

    Reply
  6. Hello, Susan. I remember reading your Highlander books for Susan King. But I have a question for you now, maybe this can be an essay for this site. Why do authors choose different names? I understand why Nora Roberts does her future books as JD Robb because they are different from her usual books, but your Sara Gabriel book looks the same like your other books.Very confusing to readers!
    I am looking forward to reading your Sara Gabriel book, though.

    Reply
  7. Somewhere there are writers with pristine offices, and no families or friends or pets to make demands. They have a coffee pot (decaff: who needs caffiene when you’re divinely inspired?) that’s always ready, a mini-fridge by their desk that’s always full of only the healthiest snack, and they never, ever have writer’s block or miss deadlines. I don’t know them, but surely they must be out there.
    And then there’s the rest of us….
    Though I think Mollie’s going to be hurt that you didn’t give her a credit-line as a Distraction.

    Reply
  8. Somewhere there are writers with pristine offices, and no families or friends or pets to make demands. They have a coffee pot (decaff: who needs caffiene when you’re divinely inspired?) that’s always ready, a mini-fridge by their desk that’s always full of only the healthiest snack, and they never, ever have writer’s block or miss deadlines. I don’t know them, but surely they must be out there.
    And then there’s the rest of us….
    Though I think Mollie’s going to be hurt that you didn’t give her a credit-line as a Distraction.

    Reply
  9. Somewhere there are writers with pristine offices, and no families or friends or pets to make demands. They have a coffee pot (decaff: who needs caffiene when you’re divinely inspired?) that’s always ready, a mini-fridge by their desk that’s always full of only the healthiest snack, and they never, ever have writer’s block or miss deadlines. I don’t know them, but surely they must be out there.
    And then there’s the rest of us….
    Though I think Mollie’s going to be hurt that you didn’t give her a credit-line as a Distraction.

    Reply
  10. Hi Ida, thanks for your question. Authors use pseudonyms for various reasons, such as convenience, publisher preference, or writing a different genre or style. The Sarah Gabriel books for Avon are lighter than the Susan King romances, so it makes sense to separate them. I’m writing under both names (new SK book in process), so this takes care of possible conflicts. Really I wish I’d used a second name sooner!

    Reply
  11. Hi Ida, thanks for your question. Authors use pseudonyms for various reasons, such as convenience, publisher preference, or writing a different genre or style. The Sarah Gabriel books for Avon are lighter than the Susan King romances, so it makes sense to separate them. I’m writing under both names (new SK book in process), so this takes care of possible conflicts. Really I wish I’d used a second name sooner!

    Reply
  12. Hi Ida, thanks for your question. Authors use pseudonyms for various reasons, such as convenience, publisher preference, or writing a different genre or style. The Sarah Gabriel books for Avon are lighter than the Susan King romances, so it makes sense to separate them. I’m writing under both names (new SK book in process), so this takes care of possible conflicts. Really I wish I’d used a second name sooner!

    Reply
  13. Haha, true, Molly the Westie can be quite a distraction — she’s credited on the Sarah G. site as my Research Assistant, she ought to be satisfied with that! Though she also wants credit for the job of Intrepid Paper Shredder and Doorbell Alarm (yes I KNOW the UPS guy is at the door!)….

    Reply
  14. Haha, true, Molly the Westie can be quite a distraction — she’s credited on the Sarah G. site as my Research Assistant, she ought to be satisfied with that! Though she also wants credit for the job of Intrepid Paper Shredder and Doorbell Alarm (yes I KNOW the UPS guy is at the door!)….

    Reply
  15. Haha, true, Molly the Westie can be quite a distraction — she’s credited on the Sarah G. site as my Research Assistant, she ought to be satisfied with that! Though she also wants credit for the job of Intrepid Paper Shredder and Doorbell Alarm (yes I KNOW the UPS guy is at the door!)….

    Reply
  16. Hello Susan Sarah —
    Love your post. Your wonderful writing technique makes perfect sense to me. I still think I might be insane, but… 
    I went to one of those tedious “note card and outline” classes too. But this is what I learned? Writing a book is like giving birth. It comes when it is ready, not a moment before, not a moment after. And it will come any @%$ time it pleases. And no amount of note card writing or outline making will bring it any soon. At least that’s what I tell my other half at 3 am when he’s leering at me through heavy lidded eyes wondering if perhaps his judgment was in error when he chose not to have me committed.
    I’m looking forward to seeing everyone one else’s posts on this. Thank you for this bog. It keeps me company when my characters refuse to come out and play. (otherwise known as writer’s block)
    Nina

    Reply
  17. Hello Susan Sarah —
    Love your post. Your wonderful writing technique makes perfect sense to me. I still think I might be insane, but… 
    I went to one of those tedious “note card and outline” classes too. But this is what I learned? Writing a book is like giving birth. It comes when it is ready, not a moment before, not a moment after. And it will come any @%$ time it pleases. And no amount of note card writing or outline making will bring it any soon. At least that’s what I tell my other half at 3 am when he’s leering at me through heavy lidded eyes wondering if perhaps his judgment was in error when he chose not to have me committed.
    I’m looking forward to seeing everyone one else’s posts on this. Thank you for this bog. It keeps me company when my characters refuse to come out and play. (otherwise known as writer’s block)
    Nina

    Reply
  18. Hello Susan Sarah —
    Love your post. Your wonderful writing technique makes perfect sense to me. I still think I might be insane, but… 
    I went to one of those tedious “note card and outline” classes too. But this is what I learned? Writing a book is like giving birth. It comes when it is ready, not a moment before, not a moment after. And it will come any @%$ time it pleases. And no amount of note card writing or outline making will bring it any soon. At least that’s what I tell my other half at 3 am when he’s leering at me through heavy lidded eyes wondering if perhaps his judgment was in error when he chose not to have me committed.
    I’m looking forward to seeing everyone one else’s posts on this. Thank you for this bog. It keeps me company when my characters refuse to come out and play. (otherwise known as writer’s block)
    Nina

    Reply
  19. I’m so sympathetic with the last minute rush. I think I have raging deadline addiction. But it seems things coalesce better in a fever of intensity, when other ideas and considerations fall away. Although I’m also one of those myriad unpublished yes-I’m-working-on-a-novel people, in my day jobs I’ve been a journalist, academic and (currently) grant writer. In all those incarnations, I collect and collect and collect information, then sit down and crank out the final product in a few sessions of great intensity. When I’m in that zone, I don’t want people to even acknowledge me in the hallway when I take a bathroom break. It distracts me. And that’s why I was locked in my office 36 hours straight last week finishing up a grant proposal, exiting as rarely as possible.
    Knowing you do the same thing, basically, in your fiction writing life gives me hope that my own creative world will flow onto the page, when, as Nina says, it’s %*^&% time. 😉

    Reply
  20. I’m so sympathetic with the last minute rush. I think I have raging deadline addiction. But it seems things coalesce better in a fever of intensity, when other ideas and considerations fall away. Although I’m also one of those myriad unpublished yes-I’m-working-on-a-novel people, in my day jobs I’ve been a journalist, academic and (currently) grant writer. In all those incarnations, I collect and collect and collect information, then sit down and crank out the final product in a few sessions of great intensity. When I’m in that zone, I don’t want people to even acknowledge me in the hallway when I take a bathroom break. It distracts me. And that’s why I was locked in my office 36 hours straight last week finishing up a grant proposal, exiting as rarely as possible.
    Knowing you do the same thing, basically, in your fiction writing life gives me hope that my own creative world will flow onto the page, when, as Nina says, it’s %*^&% time. 😉

    Reply
  21. I’m so sympathetic with the last minute rush. I think I have raging deadline addiction. But it seems things coalesce better in a fever of intensity, when other ideas and considerations fall away. Although I’m also one of those myriad unpublished yes-I’m-working-on-a-novel people, in my day jobs I’ve been a journalist, academic and (currently) grant writer. In all those incarnations, I collect and collect and collect information, then sit down and crank out the final product in a few sessions of great intensity. When I’m in that zone, I don’t want people to even acknowledge me in the hallway when I take a bathroom break. It distracts me. And that’s why I was locked in my office 36 hours straight last week finishing up a grant proposal, exiting as rarely as possible.
    Knowing you do the same thing, basically, in your fiction writing life gives me hope that my own creative world will flow onto the page, when, as Nina says, it’s %*^&% time. 😉

    Reply

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