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"Hard is not hopeless." - General David Petraeus

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Writers Questionnaire

One quick order of business before getting to today’s post: Tomorrow (12/14) I will announce the winner of the drawing in the “Name That Dog Breed” Contest. 8-)

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I was tagged to do a writer’s Q&A by author Michelle Gregory (you can read her responses to this questionnaire at:

And by the way---Pat, Pat and Pat—I’m tagging you for this exercise too so beware! 8-) And any others who take the challenge, please let me know. I’d love to visit your blog and see your responses!

If you’d like to visit the web/blog sites of the “Triple P” noted above visit:

At first I didn’t think I was going to participate with this little Q&A. But some of the questions made me think (consequently my heads hurts from over-use) so I thought I’d give them a try:

1. What's the last thing you wrote? What's the first thing you wrote that you still have?

Last Thing: Last night while treating myself to a gingerbread milkshake from Red Robin (if you haven’t tried them, run, don’t walk to your nearest Red Robin Restaurant), I was jotting down a few lines that popped into my head for a Hardy Boys story. I’ve always loved reading the Hardy Boys books and have always wanted to come up with the perfect Hardy Boys plot that mixes in the deep family connected-ness of the Blue Spines with all their charm with some of the elements of the Hardy Boys Casefiles (I do not like the more recent series of HB books. BLECH!)

First Thing: I’m impressed with ANYONE who can remember the first thing they wrote!

2. Write poetry?

To be perfectly honest, I only occasionally attempt poetry because several of my writer friends are poets and I want to pretend like I have some clue about poetry. Otherwise, the only time I have had a true desire to write poetry (apart from grade school or a special poem for my Dad) is when I want to take a stab at some whimsical cowboy poetry (hard to do if you’re not a cowboy and don’t know cowboy ways first hand).

Poetry requires an economy and careful use of words I simply don’t possess at this point in time.

3. Angsty poetry?

Nah. I save all my angst for my novels.

4. Favorite genre of writing?

Historical/western. I do have some ideas for some contemporary stories but I really don’t know how to classify them except as action/adventure, perhaps with a bit of romance thrown in. And they would be novels set in the western U.S., but to me, that’s not a western.

5. Most annoying character you've ever created?

This is one of those questions that made my head hurt. A character can be annoying either due to their personality or due to my difficulty in mastering writing them.

As to personality, the most annoying character is the antagonist of my present story. With a chip on his shoulder and an inability to get along with anyone, mixed with his own warped view of right and wrong, he is the kind of person who rubs you wrong on first meeting. And it causes no end of problems – both for himself and people he comes in contact with.

As to characters who are annoying because they are hard to write, that would be my present protagonist. Writing a lead character who struggles with trusting God in a fallen world with limited understanding is something every Christian writer endeavors to do. But doing that with three dimensional characters and in a way that hasn’t been done a million times before is NOT easy. In my mind’s eye, my lead IS 3-D. But transferring that to the page – that’s something else altogether.

6. Best Plot you've ever created?

Well as I’ve only plotted 2 stories in detail, I’m going to ignore the question and create one of my own. What’s the best story title you’ve ever come up with?

Answer: I’m not going to tell you. Moi ha ha ha ha!!!!! But seriously, I have two book titles in my head that I am dying to come up with plots for. I’m playing them close to the vest because it has become a personal challenge, if you will, for me to mull these titles and come up with the stories that live up to the titles.

7. Coolest Plot twist you've ever created?

Hmm…my brain is still pondering this one based on my limited work thus far.

8. How often do you get writer's block?

Very rarely is the issue writer’s block. The issue is time. Especially when you’re revising a novel. I can churn out a first draft in small chunks of time almost anywhere I can steal a moment. But I simply cannot revise a novel without long periods of quiet time – which I rarely get.

When I do get writers block, the majority of the time it is while brainstorming the novel and getting stuck on a particular plot point that blows up a later plot point or vice versa.

9. Write fan fiction?

See #1 above. Writing fan-fiction is a low stress way to work out your urge to write if you are stuck on another project. With fan fiction, the hardest part, development of lead/main characters, has already been done for you whether based on TV, movies, or popular books. You can therefore spend time weaving together stories that let your creative juices flow a bit more naturally then they do when you have to build and define lead characters from scratch.

10. Do you type or write by hand?

Type. Once in a great, great while I’ll handwrite, but then I growl when I realize I now have to type it up anyway. Besides, I end up more frustrated than anything when I write longhand because it is 50 times slower than typing.

11. Do you save everything you write?

No. That was an idyllic thought in my mind years ago but with geographic moves, space constraints, changes in data storage, and a million other factors, it simply did not prove realistic. I would say, however, that I have kept most of my notes and items from the last five years, when I got down and dirty with my writing.

12. Do you ever go back to an idea after you've abandoned it?

Yes. When I get story ideas I jot them down in their own Word file and will revisit them every so often as further ideas hit me.

13. What's your favorite thing you've ever written?

My present novel. First one I saw through to completion of first draft, and have stuck with through many revisions.

14. What's everyone else's favorite story that you've written?

Ask me when I’m on the market. 8-) Overall I have gotten positive responses on my first novel.

15. Ever written romance or angsty teen drama?

Teen drama? No.

Romance? No. I don’t have a thing against romance. It’s just that everybody’s doing it. I want to be part of that microscopic fraction of a percent in the market that writes books based on relationships other than romance. Because that’s what appeals to me. But it does make me feel like a red-headed step-child that I’m not in line with the rest of the romance writing world.

I actually do have an idea for a historical romance I’m going to take a stab at, but I need some more writerly experience before I tackle that one.

16. What's your favorite setting for your characters?

Generally speaking, sparsely populated wide open spaces – i.e. The kind of setting it’s rare to experience in real life. I can’t see myself writing a contemporary novel with city settings – I would feel claustrophobic and confined (and I already get to live that every day so why write about it?). But who knows. One day, the right story might just demand it.

17. How many writing projects are you working on right now?

Depends on how you define working. In a loose sense, I tend to ponder 2-3 stories at a time. But when it comes to strict BIC-time (butt-in-chair), I can only work on one story at a time.

18. Have you ever won an award for your writing?

Depends on if this is a historical discussion or not. 8-)

Had two items published in a county and state newspaper respectively during grade and high schools. Co-wrote a screenplay with a friend five years ago that made it to the quarterfinals of a national screenplay competition. Haven’t submitted anything recently.

19. What are your five favorite words?

Well, in the sheer “I just love the word” spirit, my favorite is “poofy.” Too bad you don’t have much occasion to use it in a historical.

20. What character have you created that is most like yourself?

There’s a little of me in all my characters—good guys and bad guys. Though the spiritual questions my current protagonist is asking are hard questions I myself have been asking and is probably one of the main reasons I’m having such a difficult time writing him.

21. Where do you get ideas for your characters?

From research. Historical narratives. Military reports of briefly mentioned people that your mind automatically fleshes out – historical sources are an amazing wealth of creative inspiration.

22. Do you ever write based on your dreams?

I rarely dream but when I do they are short and stupid. No publishing house in their right mind would publish a story based on one of my dreams. 8-)

23. Do you favor happy endings?

Mostly but I like to kill people off too. 8-)

24. Are you concerned with spelling and grammar as you write?

No. That’s the least of my worries. Creating story is the hard part.

25. Does music help you write?

ACK! NO!!! SILENCE! I MUST HAVE SILENCE! Not that I feel strongly about that or anything… 8-)

26. Quote something you've written. Whatever pops into your head.

“It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. Message, Spock?”

Ooops. Sorry. Anytime anyone says “quote” I always think of the most quotable show in the history of the world – Star Trek (the original). [for the record, that quote is from the beginning of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan – my all time favorite movie.]

Okay, okay. I’ll have to go for a tongue-in-cheek response since quoting myself seems a bit pompous. Here’s a line I love in one of my works in progress:

She wanted to rip out Bill's other eyebrow.


Don’t forget to get some writing in during this next hectic pre-holiday week, everyone!


Michelle Gregory said...

i love it. another way to get to know you. my husband and i love Wrath of Kahn too. and the quote at the end...makes me wonder how he lost the first eyebrow.

Patti Shene said...

Wow, Brenda, I definitely need to set aside some time in the next day or so to answer your challenge! Those questions are thought-provoking and made me want to abandon my last minute Christmas card writing to get back to work on my novel!

Submitted by one of the "Pats". LOL!

King J's Queen said...

So, what happened to Bill's OTHER eyebrow?