Today is an excellent day at Promptly, as we welcome New York Times bestselling writer Dianna Love, a RITA-award winner and co-author of Break Into Fiction and a popular thriller series with Sherrilyn Kenyon (Whispered Lies). When not standing dumbfounded in front of dollar-gobbling slot machines, I met Dianna in Las Vegas, where we were both teaching at a writing conference.
Going along with Promptly’s goal of boosting creativity with writing prompts and exercises, I checked in with Dianna about breaking block, plotters, pantsers and other topics, and she even provided us with today’s regular prompts.
Check out her advice below, and feel free to weigh in (post in the Comments section of the blog) with your thoughts, any questions you might have for Dianna, or a response to her prompt. On Wednesday we’ll randomly select two commenters to receive copies of Dianna’s new book, Break Into Fiction: 11 Steps to Building a Story That Sells. So don’t be shy: Chime in! Dianna will be dropping by to respond to your questions about the writing world, and having heard her speak in the past, I know she's an excellent source of industry and craft knowledge.
For more on Dianna, catch up with her at authordiannalove.com, or on Twitter: @diannalove.
In your writing, what slows you down the most on a daily basis?
Now that I’m published, I have so much more to do than “just write,” but the writing must come first. My time gets eaten by anything from answering e-mails (some take a lot of time and I get over 100 a day) to working on promo opportunities to interacting with my publisher on an upcoming marketing campaign or edits to dealing with nonwriting related issues (you know … life :).
How do you tackle it?
Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize. I keep lists going all the time. I schedule things to be done by a certain day and try to get to anything early that I can. I set my “personal deadlines” for writing ahead of those my publisher is depending upon, so that if I run late, it’s on my schedule, which means the books are still on time. I’ve just finished a very difficult run of days for the past month and have three days to “catch up” on everything else while the next book is with a cold reader. That means those three days have to be productive, not spent taking a leisurely break.
?What best drives your creativity?
Riding my motorcycle feeds my muse. I ride a BMW 1150 RT through scenic back roads to give my mind a chance to breathe. I often come back with a scene or even the basis for a new plot.
What tips do you have for overcoming writer’s block?
I used to wonder why some writers got terribly blocked until I started developing the Power Plotting workshop Mary Buckham and I created in our Break Into Fiction™ program. We figured out the reason most people get “stuck” on a story is because they don’t know where it’s going next. This is especially true for pantsers, or seat-of-the-pants writers, because their process is to just sit down and write. BUT that does not mean a pantser should learn how to plot. That is not their process. Pantsers need a way to fix problems or get unstuck in a way that works with their process. That’s why we created the questions in our Break Into Fiction program that show a plotter how to develop a story in advance, and show a pantser how to break out of a mental log jam or how to fix a book during revision.
What’s the best craft advice you can offer?
Do not EVER let anyone change your writing process. Find what works for you and go with it.
Some writers cannot write if the book has been plotted. Some writers cannot put a word down unless they have everything plotted out. Some I call “hybrids,” because that’s what I am. I like to write a chapter when I start seeing the opening in my mind, and get a feel for the characters. Then I sit down and plot. I don’t go to the extremes of some plotters, but I create complex stories with strong subplots and everything has to hit at the right time for the climax to be powerful. For me, that’s a very freeing process, but if I had to follow someone else’s process it wouldn’t work. Write a couple books to figure out your process. ?
What’s the best publishing advice you’ve ever received?
To be careful not to let promo and marketing opportunities bankrupt your time.
Nothing is worth more than today. That is a Goethe quote and it has been in my office since I started my first business at 17.
(photo courtesy of authordiannalove.com)
WRITING PROMPTS: Courtesy of Dianna Love
Below are five opening lines for a scene. The first three are in third person, the fourth is in first person and the fifth can be either one. You can change the point of view from third to first or first to third. There are no names, so you pick the characters. Write the first scene that comes to mind. Don’t worry about being correct on anything—just write and have fun.
He opened his eyes and slowly took in his surroundings, searching for one thing that looked familiar.
If she didn’t make the last ridge before the portal closed in the next 15 seconds, she’d end up losing her bounty and getting blood on her new solar boots.
He appreciated having a choice, but generally he was given at least one option that allowed for a chance to walk away alive even if he had to sacrifice dignity.
My mouth fell open in shock at the gangly man carrying a cardboard box, not believing he would dare to enter my real estate office again. A palomino horse trotted into the yard sans rider, daisies braided into the mane and a sword hanging from a leather loop on the saddle.