How did you become a writer?
Both of us have dabbled in writing off and on since we were kids, but it took a turn for the serious about five years ago. We kicked several ideas around, reveling in the back and forth exchange of ideas until we had the backbone of a dystopian adventure on our hands. Barring a complete rewrite, that story will never see the light of day! Still, we fell in love with the process and the story, though the execution was lacking.
Motivated by the creative outlet storytelling provided we persisted, moving on to a genre where world building was minimal, resolving to save that aspect for a time when we were more practiced. To date, we’ve written three books with another nearing completion and another in the outline phase. Becoming writers didn’t happen overnight, but our drive and passion keep us moving forward.
How do you develop your plot and characters?
The plot is typically formed over the course of numerous conversations wherein Britt and I talk for hours. We start with a generic protagonist and discuss their world— family, lifestyle, desires etc. As we chat, we find ourselves adding characters to the mix to bring in new flavor or conflict. In the case of our more fantastical/dystopian works, we’ll spend hours building a world, only to slowly (and painfully) knock it down with question after question in the hopes of creating a plot that doesn’t have too many gaps. One of us will offer a plot point, and the other will poke holes in it until we can make it believable.
We’ll talk about the potential characters and what their motivations would be, what their goals are, and what would stand in their way. We love characters with depth, oftentimes discussing the unremarkable facets of their personalities. For example, knowing that a character hates seafood, enjoys solitude, and would never be caught dead in the color pink. All of those details help us to know these people on another level, enabling us to add more layers to the story through the mundane.
Do you have a routine you follow when writing?
We both do, and they are very different! We work separately, though we have frequent contact as we write each chapter. I (Erin) like to write with distractions, listening to music or watching a hockey game as I type away. It helps me zone out and focus somehow better than quiet. As long as nobody is speaking to me, I’m good to go! Britt likes to work in silence, free of chaos and disruptions. Comfort is also important, as she can’t write without a blanket and coffee.
If you could go back in time and give yourself advice, what would it be?
I think the best advice we could give to our new-to-writing selves would be to keep it simple. One of our very first attempts had his running into a roadblock that was ruining the project. We’d been at it for several months and didn’t want to shelve it, so we went round and round with solutions. Ultimately, we were on the path to developing a sinister corporation to justify the plight of our characters.
That doesn’t work.
We were embarrassed by the sheer stupidity of that direction, leading us to often tell one another not to ‘build a corporation’ when we hit roadblocks in our current efforts. Needless to say, that project has been shelved indefinitely. Things don’t need to be complicated in order to work well. Simplicity, if well crafted, can be just the ticket.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Writing is incredibly daunting, as everything on the page is imagined. The setting, the characters, the plot—all things stem from you. It can be a challenge, but just getting words down is the first step. Writing freely without regard for all of the structure and flow is a good way to get going. It can always be fixed later.
Additionally, we’ve found that even with an outline, things can change drastically as your characters become more real. They tend to develop personalities and traits along the way, some of which you never accounted for. Just like real people, you can’t force them to do things they don’t want to do. This sounds crazy, and it is, but to remain true to your characters you have to learn to listen to them. For us, it’s the only way to get a realistic story.
Finally, don’t give up! It sounds trite, but it’s the most valuable advice that either of us could offer. In truth, it would be easy to throw in the towel. Every time Britt and I have been nearing completion on one of our books, we’ve been so done—done with the plot, the characters, the time it takes to create something unique. Having lived through and plotted the story so many times along the way via outline etc., we simply grow tired of the story. It can feel tedious and pointless, because we’ve spent too much time with it. However, pushing through it is always worth it in the end. There’s a sense of accomplishment that, ironically enough, can’t be put into words.
What are your current/future projects?
We probably have a dozen or so half-baked stories that we haven’t thought through in enough detail just yet, but there are a couple of things on the horizon. Currently, we’re on the road to completion for the second book in our Never Mine series, with an outline for a third and fourth book in progress. There is a possibility of a follow-up for our humor book How The Bad Boys Fell In Love With My Butt Ugly Face When I Removed My Glasses. We also have designs for rewriting our dystopian from years ago, something that we continue to chart out on the side.
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