I’ve just been tagged in a blog challenge by the imitable Kiersi Burkhart, my good friend and wicked talented writing cohort. The challenge is to dive into my writing process, and then send the challenge onto another lucky writer.

Let’s do it.

1. What am I working on?

You may have noticed a bit of silence around these parts, which tends to happen when I sink into Defcon Writer mode. At the moment, I’m working on a couple of things, one of which is Godzilla huge and which I absolutely can not talk about (yet). This project has basically dominated my life for the last couple of months, and will continue to do so for the next couple of months as well.

The other project I’m working on is a rough draft for a new novel, one which I’m tentatively and (sorta-jokingly) referring to as Ronin Girl for the time being, until a better name reveals itself when the ninja smoke clears.

Ronin Girl is the story of Akane, who attends the most dangerous fighting academy in all of Kodai to hunt down the student that killed her uncle. It’s a fantasy world that takes a lot of cues from feudal Japan, and is basically Harry Potter with samurai swords. The book’s got magical scrolls, family feuds, deadly katana battles, teachers whose skin can’t be cut — so yeah, it’s been a total blast to write so far.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

It’s hard to answer this question without sounding like you’re insulting other people’s work. For me, I don’t read a lot of YA fantasy that I love, and the stories of that type I do love are always missing a component of fun that I want to inject into everything I do. This is sort of starting to answer the next question a little prematurely, but with Ronin Girl I want readers to just be swept up not just by the world, but also the character of Akane, and the lens with which she views that world.

Akane is one of my favorite main characters because she’s an odd mix of headstrong and naive — she’s been sheltered her whole life, and raised by some fairly ruthless people. She has no idea how to make friends, but it’s the one thing she’s going to need to make it out of her new surroundings alive.

So much fantasy that I read isn’t a ton of fun, and that’s all I really want to do when I write.

3. Why do I write what I do?

As much as the show has garnered some well-deserved criticism for its final season, as a writer I want to create the same roller coaster ride that the series LOST created for me. Yes, the show absolutely had some uneven writing, and some flat-out bad decision making at the crucial points. But I don’t know if any other show can emulate that same up-and-down oh-my-gosh-this-is-getting-so-crazy amusement park feeling that LOST managed to do week in and week out during its prime.

I want to create stories that do the same thing. The thing I miss about creating web content was getting to watch a week-to-week reaction in viewers, to see their immediate thoughts on episodes and how much they were enjoying the ride. I think writing is an excellent way to keep creating that experience for myself, and hopefully other people in the future.

4. How does my writing process work?

I’ve written quite extensively about my writing process before, a process which helped me write a metric poopton of books last year.

I’m a big believer of the snowflake method, but only for about halfway through the book, because I don’t want to get bogged down on trying to figure everything out before I start. From there, I just progress and let the story go where it needs to go, then stop and regroup again when I hit the point where I have no idea what’s going to happen. This is fun, because it keeps me on my toes, but also it forces me to evaluate the story based on what’s natural for the characters, as opposed to what fits my outline.

I’m also a huge proponent of zero drafts, meaning that I know that nobody else in the world but me is going to see this version of the story, giving me the freedom to write words upon words of garbage in hopes of finding a few little awesome nuggets.

Who’s Next?

Next is my buddy Jeff James, a dude that can write a mean script or a mean short story, depending on the mood he finds himself in. You should check him out.