Welcome to another Blog Ring of Power interview. I know you're excited! It's Friday after all, then again, it's always Friday in my mind. So here is another reason why my library is never ending.
Please welcome Ellen Larson!
Section #3: The Creative Process
BRoP: Are you a “plotter” or a “pantser” (do you plan/outline the story ahead of time or write “by the seat of your pants”)?
Pantser if I have the time, plotter if I don’t. Lately, I don’t have the time.
I do use beta readers; I consider them an absolute must. Over the years, I have however learned to tailor a set of questions for beta readers, so that I increase my chances of getting useful feedback. I also get more useful details this way. Common questions include: Who was your favorite character? Why? Who was your least favorite character? Why? What did you like best about the story? What did you like least? How did you feel after you read X? What parts confused you? What parts were boring? These questions are open-ended enough that they don’t sound like I’m just looking for praise. They jump-start the discussion and lead to answers that I’m particularly interested in. I generally beg my beta readers not to comment on grammar, word choice, or usage. Likewise I ask them to just give me their thoughts, rather than what they think other people might be bothered by. If I want a professional critique, I pay for that.
BRoP: How much time do you spend on research? What type of research do you do?
I generally spend quite a lot of time doing research. This does not necessarily show up in the book, as my research tends to be extremely foundational, but I find it a terrific way to immerse myself in the world of the story during the writing of the first draft. In The Measure of the Universe, I did massive amounts of research. This research is almost invisible in the book (unless you’re up on your Greek mythology). I had so much interesting information that I decided to put it into an Author’s Apology at the end of the book (so that readers could bone up on the Greek mythology if they wanted to). The mountain girl in Wildcraft, for example, practices “wildcrafting,” the harvesting of herbs and medicinals from their natural habitat. I have done the usual amount of research (for me), with much more of it showing up in the book.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging to write?
Short fiction. My idea of a short story works out at about 20,000 words. I have to slay dragons to get a story down to 7,000 words. I have not yet succeeded in writing anything shorter than 5,000 words. But I’m still trying.
Former elite operative Merit Rafi suffered during her imprisonment at the end of a devastating war, but the ultimate torment is being forced to investigate a murder she would gladly have committed herself. In the year 3324 the Rasakans have attacked the technologically superior Oku. The war is a stalemate until the Oku commander, General Zane, abruptly surrenders. Merit, a staunch member of the Oku resistance, fights on, but she and her comrades are soon captured. An uneasy peace ensues, but the Rasakans conspire to gain control of the prized Oku time-travel technology. When Zane is murdered, the Rasakans exert control over Merit, the last person on Earth capable of Forensic Retrospection. In Retrospect is a good old-fashioned whodunit set in a compelling post-apocalyptic future