Monday, November 5, 2012

How Authors Write- Margaret Fieland

I hope you all had a great week last week, and that you were all safe during the Hurricane.

Today, I am returning to my series on How Author's Write. You can find my first post, with Dianne Salerni here.  This week, I welcome fellow MuseItUp author, Margaret Fieland who shares her writing process with us.

What do you write?
I write poetry and fiction. I have a tween/YA sci fi published, and a chapter book accepted for publication, due out next year.  I'm working on two more: another tween/YA sci fi, and an adult sci fi.

Do you use 1st person, 3rd person, multiple POVs?
"Relocated," my published novel, is first person. The other, "The Angry Little Boy," is third person limited  -- one POV. Of the two I'm working on editing. the  tween/ya is first person. The adult sci fi is my first multi-person POV novel. It's got five points of view: the four characters involved in the main plot relationship, and the antagonist, the bad guy in a political plot thing.

How do you get started with a book- is it an idea, a character, vary from story to story?
It varies, but generally with a character and a situation, a setting, the start and the finish. The details in the middle tend to be murky. For "Relocated," I did plan -- but most of my planning was devoted to world-bullding. I had about a page of notes on the plot, most of which make me cringe when I read them over now, and most of which went out the window once I started to write.

Do you draft quickly? Or are you more detailed in your draft?
I generally draft quickly. Then I have to go back and edit. For the multi-person novel I'm editing now, for example, I wanted to weave together two four-person relationships and an antagonist. I started it out  as a YA, first person, with the same main character as "Relocated." I also drafted another version, multi-person, sketchy, focusing on the story of the adult foursome. I got as far as a beta reader for the first person YA version. She convinced me I was telling the wrong story.

So I went back, reread both versions, and went back to the drawing board. This time I decided to focus on the four characters in the adult relationship, plus the antagonist, as POV characters. My first draft was a lot better, but I skimped on the secondary characters, and had to revise to bring them more forward. I'm pretty happy with the current version, and am down to what I really believe are final edits on it.

Do you do research before your first draft, during?
As necessary. Since I don't do a lot of planning, there will most likely be research needed as I go along. I do do some research beforehand -- for example, on desert ecologies before I started "Relocated." I ended up having to research glass blowing and ceramics for the novel later on. I researched the International Court, Native American culture, and stringed instruments, among other things, for the multi-person POV novel I'm working on now.

Do you outline? How?
I generally have the beginning, the ending, the major plot points, and some notes about scenes.

For the 2011 Nano Novel, I had about two pages of notes, with notes on scenes. I followed them for more or less the first quarter of the novel and then it took off.

Mostly, though, I can't plan in too much detail, because my characters live and breathe for me as I write them. I don't know all of what's going to happen until I write it.

As to detailed scene planning. I often play a scene out in my head before I write it, and then I write it down. If it's the first draft, I'll make notes about the next couple of scenes as well.

Do you name everything up front when you are drafting or do you leave comments for yourself to go back and fill in later so you don't lose the flow of what you are working on?
I'm not much for going back. If I really need something, I'll make a note in the MS: ** FIXME ** :
Then when I need to, I can go back and search for FIXME.

Do you work with CP's or Beta's? How soon into your draft do you let them see your work?
Both. I have a writing partner. We exchange a chapter a week. As to Beta readers, when I reach the point where I feel it needs a whole read-through and comments. How do I know that?
Good question {grin}.

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you started writing?
{grin} How to write fiction. I wrote the novel coming out next year in a weekend, then I spent the next year and a half or two years learning enough about fiction to make it into a publication-worthy novel.

But I might not have been motivated to study all that if I hadn't needed to get my novel right.

What do you have out now, or coming out? Any upcoming events? A website we can find you and your books at? A booktrailer? Anything else you want to share?

"Relocated" was published by MuseItUp Publishing this past July, and I have a blog tour starting at the end of October. I self-published "Sand in the Desert," the book of poems I wrote to go with "Relocated." Eight of the poems appear in the novel. I'm also one of the Poetic Muselings. Our poetry anthology, "Lifelines" was published in November, 2011.

I can be found online in the following places:
The Poetic Muselings website and blog:
Link to "Relocated" on the publisher's website:
Link to Sand in the Desert on Amazon:

It's also avail in print. Link to Lifelines Poetry Anthology:


  1. Thanks for the interview, Mary and Margaret!

    I had to laugh when you mention the plot notes that make you cringe now that you read over them. This weekend I cleaned out a pile of old papers and found plot notes for my most recently completed manuscript. They didn't resemble the final story much!

    1. LOL! I find that mine notes rarely end up matching the initial notes.

  2. Dianne, all I can say is I'm glad that I threw those particular notes away.

    I actually keep almost all my notes on my computer, because I lose track of pieces of paper.

    Mary, many thanks for hosting me on your blog.

    1. You're welcome! Thanks for letting me pick you brain.

  3. Margaret, do I understand correctly? You work on more than one book at a time? Do you have any tips for that? I need to do that this year and worry about keeping it all straight. Thank you for sharing.

    1. I'm not sure how Margaret keeps hers straight, but for the series I am working on I have a character chart I use to help keep my characters straight (names, nicknames, hair color, eye color, kingdom they are from, and info about each of the kingdoms, etc.) as well as a simple plot outline/summary so I know where I think I am heading with the story.

  4. I'm editing two at the moment, but, no, I don't have trouble keeping them both straight. What worries me is keeping track of what I need to do for each one, and I solve that by keeping my 'to-do' list in the document. I use google drive for my documents, and whenever I come to some kind of significant point, I create a new version -- say

    Google drive can backtrack changes, but I still find I like to save and create a new version at times.

    I have a folder for each book. In the folder I keep a character list, notes about the plot, theme, etc, and whatever else I might want to keep, plus the book (and the old versions I'm keeping). If I write scenes/fragments that aren't going to be in the book, they go in this folder also.

  5. Thanks for the interview, ladies. It's always good to see how another author works.

  6. Good interview, Mary. I enjoyed learning about Margaret's writing process. I'm starting a new WIP now, and I kinda like her approach to new work. Nice tip about inserting FIXME in places to go back later so that the writing doesn't slow down while getting out the story. One I'll definitely use. Congratulations, Margaret on your publications. You sound like a well-rounded author: YA, Adult, Poetry. Wow.

    1. Good luck with you WIP. I find NAME works good when you haven't named something yet and need to go back to it!

  7. I'm happy to find out there are all different kinds of techniques to writing that are successful...I worried because I didn't outline to the extent some writers do, because I was afraid I was making more work for myself in the long run. I've tried being more detailed, only when I started writing, the story sometimes veers of into another direction. Then I felt as though I'd done all that work for nothing. Since then, I've learned to consider any outline, research, notes as brainstorming, which is very important, because it leads me to the finished product whether I actually use it or not. I think I'm the most productive when I break the story down by chapters, rough in what I want to happen for two or three at a time and go back and fine tune...several times.
    I'm still learning and will continue to do so.

    1. Good point, Susan. There is no right way to write- what works for you is the best way.

      I've found that being flexible with your story is a good thing. I am more of a panster than a plotter. I usually know where I am starting and where I am ending, and a few major points across the way. My drafts usually very so much they are almost like a completely new story, but this is how I learn about my characters and where I need to go with them.

  8. Great tips, thank, Margaret. I too work on two books at once. This way I'm never blocked. I like the fixme note. What a wonderful idea.

  9. Marian, thanks for stopping by. I've been using FIXME for years -- I came across it years ago when I was trying to make some software work. The developer had left *FIXME* notes in the source. They did explain why it wasn't working -- he hadn't gotten around to implementing that particular feature.

  10. Wow, I can't multitask with two books at a time. I envy any author that can. I'm a pantster, and I'd really lose what is in my mind about a current WIP if I jumped to another story. And I would especially lose the voice and tone of the current one.

    Thanks for sharing. Notes? lol. What notes?

  11. Lorrie, thanks for stopping by. What do you do after the first draft? How much editing?

    Just curious.


Thanks for dropping by. I love reading comments and will respond by e-mail as soon as possible.