Author Holly Tierney-Bedord, shares her writing process behind her latest novel The Woman America Loves a Latte.
What is your writing process and what do you think are common traps for aspiring writers?
Starting with an outline doesn’t work very well for me because it feels like one degree away from writing a research paper. For me, writing a book or story is like starting a journey with no itinerary. If I’m going to keep on that journey, it needs to be fun and surprising. Since I often have very little idea where a story is going, I look forward to getting back to a work in progress the same way I look forward to catching up on some TV show I’ve DVR’d.
My books start with a character and a setting. It’s often some intriguing woman who’s in the midst of a personal crisis. Sometimes she’s likable, other times she isn’t, but she’s always up to something that makes me want to know more about her. I’m interested in people and relationships. While I usually have little or no idea about the plot when I start writing, the mood or “voice” of the story or novel is already there.
In The Woman America Loves a Latte, for instance, one of the opening scenes introduces readers to Veloura, the novel’s main character. She’s waiting for a job interview. We’ve all been there before and can relate to her nervous excitement. Before long, I discovered she was on the run from her ex-fiancé. Exciting, right? It certainly kept me wanting to write more!
I think this free-form writing style works for me because I had writing teachers in grade school and then again in college who encouraged us (made us, actually–not that I was opposed to it) sit down and write, without letting the pencil stop moving for more than a second or two.
There wasn’t time to over-analyze our work or get self-conscious, and the writing wasn’t meant to be collected or seen by others. I HIGHLY recommend this technique to people who want to be writers, and even to people who couldn’t care less about being writers.
It’s a great way to clear your mind and develop confidence in your writing. It’s also similar to the advice given in one of my favorite books on creativity: The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.
With that being said, writing isn’t purely creative craziness. Turning casual writing into a full-blown novel requires self-discipline and a plan. In my case, after I’ve gotten partway into my novel (maybe around the halfway point), I make notes about what has happened and what still needs to happen in order to loop things around for closure. From that point on, I’m writing with more intention and sometimes even a list of scenes that have to be checked off.
It’s also common for me to go back to the first half and tweak it as necessary. Slipping in little clues if it’s a mystery, or little connections and symbols to build a theme.
If you’re interested in being a writer, some of the best writing advice books I’ve read are by Stephen King (On Writing) and Natalie Goldberg (Writing Down the Bones and Wild Mind).
About Holly Tierney-Bedord
Holly Tierney-Bedord is the author of several novels and novellas including Sweet Hollow Women, The Woman America Loves a Latte, The Port Elspeth Jewelry Making Club, and Surviving Valencia.
She’s also an artist and miniaturist, creator of the mid-century dollhouse restoration blog Flipthisminihouse.com, and the author of several non-fiction books about creating miniatures. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin.
About the Book
The Woman America Loves a Latte by Holly Tierney-Bedord
Genre: Women’s Fiction
From the best-selling author of Sweet Hollow Women comes a quirky new thriller for fans of Megan Abbott, Liane Moriarty, and Carl Hiaasen.
Veloura has never stood a chance. Raised by a junkie and orphaned as a teen, she’s settled for a life of low expectations. She spends her days sprucing up the shack of a has-been bull rider and washing hair down at the local salon. But when it turns out her fiancé doesn’t have her best interests at heart, she’s forced to come up with a new plan for herself.
An opportunity to be the spokesperson for a coffee chain means a bright future could be hers, if only she can stay ahead of her dark past.
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