Writing Q&A

Q&AI literally freaked out this morning when I woke up and realized it was FRIDAY and that I hadn’t posted anything since MONDAY!!! I don’t know where this week went! I had something going on literally everyday, and I feel like I was only home for a few hours every day. 😦 But I haven’t forgotten about you guys! I swear I’ll still post things throughout the busy holiday season, even if it means waking up at the crack of dawn to write a blog entry. Yes, you’ll see my zombie side come out. It’s not pretty. 😉

Anyway, I figured I’d finally get around to posting my answers to all those writing questions you all sent me a few weeks ago! These are the *abbreviated* answers, so I may actually end up posting whole blog posts on some of them, if I find I have even more to say. (Brace yourselves!)

  • When writing a first draft, do you just try to get the basic story down first, and worry about all the other details later?

Yes, definitely! Whenever I’m first coming up with the concept for a story, I just have to tell myself that it’s okay if my writing stinks. First drafts aren’t supposed to be perfect, they’re supposed to be real. When I’m working on a first draft, I’m not worried about whether or not all the dates match up, or the living room is described, or the dialogs are flowing smoothly with an even amount of speech tags. All of that can and should be added later. When I’m working on a first draft, I’m asking myself the questions: “Does this story work? Are these characters realistic? Is the plot line moving along? Is my main character growing?” It’s the emotions and the story that I’m most worried about, not all the little details.. Those can always be added in later, so I wouldn’t even worry about them until you’re finished with your first draft!

  • Do you think it’s better to write the whole novel now, and then put in your chapter breaks later?

Oh, yes! I never put in my chapter breaks until I am completely finished with all of my drafts. Like, ready-to-send-it-to-Zondervan finished. Why? Because I do edits. I go back and add in entire three-thousand word scenes. If I stuck with the chapter breaks that I made on my first draft, the chapters in my books would either be insanely long or snippy and short. Both of which are problems. You can’t really tell where to put chapter breaks until you’re entirely finished with the story. Once I consider a manuscript “done”, I go back in and add those breaks after every three thousand words or so. That way, I know all the chapters are pretty even!

  • What are some things that help you regain interest in your story when you’re facing writers’ block?

The first thing I do is take a break. It’s hard to clamp down on a story when you’re so tired of it that your brain isn’t working anymore. So I take a break and go for a walk, or watch a movie, or read a book. Sometimes I’ll even break for a few days, if I feel like I really need the extra time to get my head back into it. Then I return to the book with a clear brain and a fresh vision for the story and the characters.

Another thing I like to do is go back to the beginning of my story and just start reading. It’s amazing how inspired you can get to continue if you just start at the beginning and read through your story. You’ll start remembering why you love those characters and why you initially felt inspired to tell this story to the world. It’s so helpful in overcoming writer’s block!

  • How do you normally do the research that your books require?

Very poorly. Haha, just kidding! Well, most of my books take place in the mid-20th century, so luckily that’s a very easy time period to research! So many people who lived then are still alive today, and love hearing my nosy questions! 😉

Usually, I start off with basic historical research. Who was President at the time? What was the average household income? What did schools and towns look like? Then I start thinking about aspects of everyday life. What kind of car did the average American drive? What clothes did they wear? What songs played on their record players? To get answers to these, I do all kinds of research. Yes, I read books, but mostly I look at vintage magazines, listen to old vinyls, watch black and white movies, and talk to older friends and relatives who have real-life answers. And I still make mistakes sometimes! I always laugh about the time my agent laughed at me for having Allie Everly walk from one room to the next while holding a telephone. Silly me! There were no cordless phones in 1943! 😛

Well, hopefully that answered all your writing questions! I got a few more questions that I’m saving for a really exciting feature I’m planning starring (drum roll please)…. My sister HANNAH!!!! Yes, that’s right. Hannah and I are planning a video blog together, and we want to hear all of your stupid, silly questions. Anything even remotely funny or odd, ask away! We’ll pick our five favorite random questions, and answer them in a video blog that will probably be posted next Friday, so you have until this weekend to send us your questions! Remember that we are teenage girls, and that we absolutely love being silly and strange, so don’t worry that your questions will freak us out. If you want to know which limb we would first cut off in a freak rock-climbing accident, we’d love to tell you!

You can either post your questions here, or message them to me on my Facebook page. 🙂



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  1. * Alyson says:

    I knew I forgot something : ) I meant to ask you a question. When you queried, did you say how old you were? I am in the process and I don’t blatantly say that I am a teen, but I don’t necessarily hide it. What did you do?

    | Reply Posted 5 years, 3 months ago
  2. * Emily Ann says:

    This is really helpful!! I love your Q&A posts. I’m sure I’ll have questions for the next one. And I can’t wait for the video blog of you and your sister!
    I reviewed Chasing Jupiter on my blog! http://photos-by-em.blogspot.com/2012/11/book-review-chasing-jupiter-by-17-year.html

    | Reply Posted 5 years, 3 months ago
  3. * Hannah says:

    OH MY GOODNESS, OH MY GOODNESS, OH MY GOODNESS!!! Rachel, you just made my day!! I haven’t even read the post yet, but when I saw that you answered both of my questions, I absolutely FREAKED out!! Thank you, Rachel!!! XD

    | Reply Posted 5 years, 3 months ago
    • * Hannah says:

      Wow, thanks so much Rachel! Your answers were really really really helpful. You’re the best! 🙂

      | Reply Posted 5 years, 3 months ago
  4. * Emily Ann says:

    Oh, I thought of a question: What’s your middle name? =)

    | Reply Posted 5 years, 3 months ago

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