My Writing Process

Writing processes are as individual as the authors. This blog tour has been fascinating, as I’ve read “behind the scenes” with these talented authors. YA suspense author Ana Kenley invited me on to join the fun. (Check out her process here.) So…let’s talk writing process…

What am I working on? I’m working on two manuscripts right now. Edits for a suspense, Cypher—a 2009-12-23 10.13.12finalist in a several contests as Sins of the Father. The story revolves around the theme, How far will you go for those you love? I love that my beta readers grabbed me, demanding the next segments to find out Who. Did. It?

To balance the darkness of Cypher, I’m also writing a light amateur sleuth set in a small town in the Cascades. Stay tuned—this one’s still evolving.

How does my work differ from others of its genre? Readers tell me they like my author “voice,” and the way the setting becomes a character in the story. Maybe it’s due to a visual storytelling style, maybe the deep point of view I love. Probably it’s really because I’m Southern and our roots run deep, wherever we happen to live.

I also hear that my characters are “real.” Smart, successful women readers want to hang out with—go to Happy Hour, share confidences, ask advice. Men who live down the street—good at their jobs, confident in their ability, sometimes they remember to cut the grass. My stories always have a relationship element, since it’s a huge part of real people’s lives and it makes for great conflict to amp the main plot.

Why do I write what I do?  While I read across the spectrum, I especially love mysteries and suspense. Throwing characters against challenges and crises, making them find the courage and strength to survive and overcome. Dreaming up the plot twist that turns the story upside down. And to my worried friends, I only kill people on paper.

How does my writing process work?  My first book was simply an outpouring—characters and actions flew from my fingers. As I studied the craft of writing, I discovered I’d instinctively set up the four-act classic structure, but I had a lot to learn about “conflict”—at least as it applied to fiction. Since I write mysteries, I usually have the main points of the story figured out before I start writing. Sometimes I work forward through the investigation. At others, I work backwards—what does my character need to know to reach this place or conclusion? How can I set the breadcrumbs up to lead her there? The subplots, themes and nuances appear as I write, which makes it fun and exciting to see what happens next.

Generally I read the previous section before moving into the next scene, getting deeper into my character’s mind as I tackle the next challenge. I fix obvious issues as I go, so I have a fairly clean manuscript when I finish. At that point, I outline. I know, sounds backward, doesn’t it? But that way, I can see balance—is one character taking over? Is subplot A carried through the story? Is scene X necessary or can the key part be introduced somewhere else? I also read the story aloud. What a fantastic way to catch awkward sentences and keep my characters’ actions and dialogue believable.

Echoing Ana, if you have any questions about how my writing process works, please feel free to contact me or comment below. I’m always willing to answer questions.

Next week, three of my writer friends share their writing processes. On May 5, 2014, turn your browsers and your attention to Marilee Brothers, Zoe Forward and Mia Marlowe.


Marilee Brothers is a former teacher, coach and counselor. The author of eight books, Marilee and her husband are the parents of three grown sons and live in central Washington State. After publishing six young adult books, Marilee is currently hard at work, writing an adult romantic suspense. She loves hearing from people who have read her books. Feel free to contact her at

Zoe Forward writes adventure paranormal romances. She lives in the south with her family and an assortment of pets. She’s always had a special love of archaeology, especially anything Egyptian. Although a deep part of her wishes she had pursued a career that would have her at a dig site in a hot, sandy country, she’s a small animal veterinarian, caring for everything from chinchillas to dogs…and even one hermit crab in there. When she’s not being a vet, a mom, or sneaking out to a movie with her husband, she’s at her laptop writing. Visit Zoe online at

Mia Marlowe didn’t intend on making things up for a living, but she says it’s the best job she ever had. Her work was featured in the Best of 2010 issue of PEOPLE magazine. One of her books is on display at the Museum of London Docklands next to Johnny Depp memorabilia. The RITA nominated author has over 20 books in print with more on the way! Mia loves art, music, history and travel. Good thing about the travel because she’s lived in 9 different states, 4 different time zones. For more about Mia’s books, visit 



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