This week, I’ve asked some amazing urban fantasy and paranormal romance authors to participate in Show Your Work week and share their processes with you. Today, please welcome Jaye Wells! [Now with accurate book image! –Chloe]
Jaye Wells is a USA Today-bestselling author of urban fantasy and speculative crime fiction. Raised by booksellers, she loved reading books from a very young ago. That gateway drug eventually led to a full-blown writing addiction. When she’s not chasing the word dragon, she loves to travel, drink good bourbon and do things that scare her so she can put them in her books. Jaye lives in Texas with her husband and son. For more about her books, go to jayewells.com.
The process of writing a book is rarely what you see in the movies. Most writers don’t have charming little cabin retreats or manservants or even neat offices. My office, for example, is what should be the formal dining room in my house. I took it over about six months ago after fleeing from my upstairs guest bedroom office because it was too far from the coffee maker.
My bookcase is from Ikea, as is my desk, because I’m cheap, that’s why. The bookcase itself is filled with research books and trinkets I’ve picked up through the years. It’s a mess, but I know where everything is when I need it. I’m basically a research book hoarder. I comb through the used bookstore occult section all the time looking for cool reference materials. Thus, I have books on such varied subject matter as the Salem witch trials, dream interpretation, palmistry, astrology, Ayurveda, city guides, faery lore, vampire lore, werewolf lore (are you sensing a lore pattern?), alchemy, police procedural reference books, writing craft, etc, etc. I actually use these books a lot when I’m feeling stuck for ideas. Research is my number one method of brainstorming, so I like to have lots of material on hand.
As for the writing itself, I use Scrivener for drafting books (I edit in Word, though). Instead of being a plotter or pantser, I’m a scene writer—a puzzler. I write a bunch of scenes down that I see in my head and then I puzzle out what they’re telling me about the story. Scrivener helps me keep track of all the scenes and allows me to move them around easily as I figure out the story’s structure. Here’s a shot of the Scrivener file for “Rusted Veins,” a Sabina Kane novella that comes out October 28.
To help me corral all these scenes that I write out of order, I also use a plot board. I divide the board into four rows, which correspond to the Act breaks for the book. Act two gets two rows because it’s the longest act and there’s usually a turning point in the middle of that act (the midpoint twist). I generally do a very short summary of each scene per Post It and slap it on the board. Some people color coordinate their stickies. I do not. Usually the multiple colors reflect whatever was closest to my hand when I wrote the note. On this particular plot board, the numbers in the upper corners reflect a timeline I was trying to keep track of for Cursed Moon, which happens between a new moon and a Blue Moon so I needed to keep up with the dates.
Plot boards allow me to see the big picture of the story, as well as keep my pacing on track. After I’m done writing my initial scenes, I use the board to see where I need transition scenes. After my draft is done, I also go back to the board to see where things need work in edits.
It’s not the prettiest or neatest process, but it works for me most of the time. Being a puzzler means I have to do a ton of revision on my drafts, but the end product is always better for allow my imagination to run toward the parts I find exciting at the beginning, instead of forcing structure on the ideas too early.
Rusted Veins: A Sabina Kane Halloween Novella (October 28)
Halloween in New Orleans is usually a treat. But for Sabina Kane and the rest of Team Awesome, this year’s celebration has its share of nasty tricks. When Brooks’s new waitress goes missing, the Changeling asks Sabina to help him find her.
The problem? The missing mage is one of Adam Lazarus’s old flames, and having her show up in their lives is giving Sabina heartburn. Plus saving her may also threaten the fragile peace Sabina’s achieved for the Dark Races. Luckily for Adam’s ex — but unlucky for her kidnappers — Sabina Kane isn’t easily spooked.
Dirty Magic: The first book in the exciting new Prospero’s War series!
“Jaye Wells has created a fresh, magical world full of potion junkies & alchemists that promises to break new ground in paranormal thrillers.” — Laurell K. Hamilton, New York Times Bestselling Author
MAGIC IS A DRUG. CAREFUL HOW YOU USE IT.
The Magical Enforcement Agency keeps dirty magic off the streets, but there’s a new blend out there that’s as deadly as it is elusive. When patrol cop Kate Prospero shoots the lead snitch in this crucial case, she’s brought in to explain herself. But the more she learns about the investigation, the more she realizes she must secure a spot on the MEA task force.
Especially when she discovers that their lead suspect is the man she walked away from ten years earlier – on the same day she swore she’d given up dirty magic for good. Kate Prospero’s about to learn the hard way that crossing a wizard will always get you burned, and that when it comes to magic, you should never say never.
Here are more ways to acquaint yourself with Jaye and her work:
Twitter: http://twitter.com/jayewells (@Jayewells)
Thanks so much to Jaye for joining us today!