Garrett Robinson was born in Los Angeles, California. Throughout his childhood and into adulthood, he was encouraged to learn by his parents, who not only ensured he had access to thousands of books whenever he wanted, but who traveled with him around the world and helped him do so once he was out in the world on his own. Throughout high school, Garrett excelled in creative writing, churning out millions of words and far surpassing all of his classmates.
After school, Garrett discovered a love of, and has had a budding career in the independent film industry. In today’s digital age, however, he has discoverd that new creative models are necessary to succeed. To that end, he has begun turning all of his film ideas into self-published books, in hopes of drumming up support and readership for the stories he has created.
What inspires you to write?
What inspires me is when a story springs full-formed from my brow, like Athena from Zeus. That’s really the only way I come up with stories that I take to completion. It’s not just an interesting premise, it’s the premise, the characters, the beginning, middle and end of the story. When that happens, I just sit down and start cranking out the words. If I just get an interesting idea for a premise, I’ll flounder if I start trying to write it. Fortunately I get my “full story ideas” regularly enough to keep cranking out books on a regular basis.
Tell us about your writing process.
I have to outline. I’ve got my story idea, but I have to work out the beats. I write down my basic outline first, each scene usually getting its own index card (not physical—I use Scrivener and go scene by scene that way). I then arrange my scene cards into chapters—usually four or five cards per chapter. After that, I sit down and start my first draft. My first drafts go FAST—usually 2,500 words an hour—so I can bang out a book in usually just a few weeks. After that, it’s revisions. I go through many revisions, and every time I revise I usually have new ideas which end up turning into more writing.
Usually after about four or five passes, I think my book’s ready for a final edit. I wait until I’m SURE it’s ready, and then give it one more pass.
After that, I do several editing runs. I don’t do “different” editing runs, I try to edit everything all in one go. Consistency, continuity, typos, everything. Some people do those three topics in different runs, but I can’t divvy them up in my mind. So instead, I just do two or three editing runs. Only after all of that do I consider my book ready for publication.
(YES, I publish without an external editor! GASP! SHOCK! HORROR! BLASPHEMY! Truth be told, I’m not so well-off in my writing career that I can afford to hire an editor who’s better than me. And I know of very few editors who are better than me. My spelling and grammar is pretty spot-on. Those editors I DO know who are better than I am are far too expensive for me to hire—but one day, one day).
When I co-write books, it’s the same process except that the manuscript gets passed back and forth instead of me just going over it and over it. But the steps are the same.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I’m talking to them right now.
Yes, I totally do. I’ll sit down and write out entire fictional conversations with my characters when I want to know what they’d do next. I ask them questions about where they come from, what their families are like, what they want to do with their lives. Sometimes they don’t know, so I force them to examine themselves. I think to be a good writer you’ve got to have at least a little schizophrenia this way.
Tarantino has said that he creates his dialogue and characters by just having them sit in a room and talk. He’ll write out the whole thing, then parse out the dialogue he actually wants, which is only about 10%. I don’t quite do that, but my process is similar.
What advice would you give other writers?
Write. Write more. Complete works. So many people have a plethora of unfinished works, and NOTHING done. Not even to first draft status. You’re not really a writer at that point. Finish things. Finish your novel. Finish your short story. Whatever. Finish it, then put it away and don’t look at it for as long as you can stand it. A month. A year. Then come back to it with fresh eyes. You can’t look at it with fresh eyes if you’ve never finished it.
And for God’s sake, WRITE. Don’t work a story out in your head forever. You can’t really revise it and make it good until it’s on paper (or the screen).
How did you decide how to publish your books?
My decision process was very simple: I hate artistic institutions. I fundamentally hate them. They can do good things, but for an unknown, they’re terrible. I come from film, which is the same way. You can’t just start working for a studio as a filmmaker. You have to either rise up through the ranks, or you have to start off in a position of no power. Publishing houses are the same way. Deals for first-time authors are awful.
But if you’ve already got a following as a self-publisher, you have a lot more power. You can talk with publishers and see what options they give you. And if you don’t like their offer, you can tell them, “Fine, never mind. I don’t NEED you. If you want to work with me, you’ll make money. But if you want to tell me how to do my art, forget about it. I’m doing fine on my own.” That’s a tremendous position of power to go into negotiations with.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I don’t know. I honestly don’t. I’m scared by how many people are publishing these days, because it’s so hard to get attention. At the same time, I think it’s wonderful that everyone gets a chance. I think that traditional publishing is too slow to adapt, which gives indies an edge, but traditional publishing also has production lines that span the face of the globe, so they’ll never truly go away. And some really remarkable work comes out of traditional publishing houses.
Truth be told, I’m just going to keep creating my art on my own terms and distributing it the same way. I try not to worry about “the future of the industry” because if I do, I’m allowing that to change my art, and then my art will suffer.
What do you use?
Co-writer, Beta Readers
What genres do you write?
Fantasy, Science Fiction, Comedy
What formats are your books in?
eBook, Print, Both eBook and Print