About Tanya Lisle:
Tanya Lisle is a web developer, comic book enthusiast and prolific author currently living in Vancouver, British Columbia. She writes in a range of genres, from young adult urban fantasy to post-apocalyptic science fiction for an older audience, and always has another idea for a book ready to write.
What inspires you to write?
I get ideas and I write them. It’s really that simple for me.
Where the ideas come from and what inspires certain things vary widely. I’ve dreamed things that make it into stories. A line from a song will give me a whole universe to work with. I’ve gone on binges where I will watch an entire show in a couple days and leave the experience with the intense desire to write something epic using some of the story elements. More commonly, I will see an awful movie or book and come up with what I think it should have been and use elements from that.
Tell us about your writing process.
It starts with an idea, as it usually does. After some time (months, years, whatever it takes) and ignoring it for a while, it usually forms into something useful in the back of my mind. It’s grabbed onto other ideas thrown back there and, all together, they become something I can work with.
At this point, I plot something out. Just a loose outline to see who the characters I’m working with are, the general plot and what medium I should be working with. I tend to do a lot of character planning at this point, figuring out their relations to one another and what they are like, as well as the arcs that they will take over the course of the story. And then I end up leaving it again until I have time to sit down and write it.
When I’m about to write, I come up with a new outline with more details. It’s still pretty loose, but there’s a rough idea in it about what the key plot points are at this point. I have an option for the ending. The ideas are generally there on paper.
And then I write it. I tend to write things all at once and knock out the first draft in a month or less. I like to go straight through, start to finish, and give myself no time for second guessing. If something isn’t working with the original plot now that I’m writing it, I don’t have time to try and make it work, so I tend to just go with the new tangent and try to catch up with the plot later if it still works. If it doesn’t, then it’s a ride until the end.
Immediately after I finish writing, I make notes and leave it alone for a while. While I’m going, I tend to come up with more ideas that I should have put in earlier or elements that don’t work and I like to keep track of those. Once that’s done, I leave it alone for a while and work on something else.
I have a pile of first drafts ready for editing, so when the story comes up on the list, that is the one I work on until it’s done. First, I read it and decide if I can keep anything. Then I plot it again and get to rewriting. This can take a month or two, but this is where I get all the elements in exactly the place I need them to be to make the story to work. It’s when the foreshadowing goes in and unnecessary characters come out. It’s when the story actually starts to be good.
Once that’s done, it goes to my editor. We go back and forth on it as many times as we need to until we’re happy with it. Finish off with the read out loud editing pass and it’s done. It takes a while, but it’s done.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
The most talking to my characters I do is getting frustrated that they aren’t following the plot as set in the first draft. By the second pass onward, I’m familiar enough with them to know how to make them do what I need them to. If they ever did actually talk to me, they’d probably just get mad at me for breaking their legs or something.
What advice would you give other writers?
Try everything, but do what ultimately works for you. I can say go out and have life experiences, or that you have to read widely and plot out everything before you even start, but every writer is different. Try doing whatever you can and figure out what works for you. Once you do, you’ll be great.
One thing I will suggest is try to learn the difference between feedback and negativity. If you aren’t used to it, feedback can feel a lot like someone just hates your work. Figuring out where the line is takes a lot of work and a lot of exposing yourself to criticism, and as a creative, you are going to have to get used to that.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
In my first year, I put out two books: The first in a middle grade urban fantasy series that is fairly light in tone and a much darker young adult book with a gay protagonist.
I went with self-publishing, mostly because traditional publishing didn’t work for me. I aim to release two books a year, one from a series and one standalone, in several different genres for different audiences with a variety of protagonists. After talking to agents and editors, this is not something I’d really be able to do with a traditional publishing deal. I spent a long time thinking about it and, ultimately, I decided that I was less interested in getting into bookstores than telling all the stories I wanted to tell.
My advice to others is to figure out what works best for you. Both methods are a lot of work and you’re still going to need to do a lot of rewriting and editing regardless (Self publishing is not a shortcut for that), but do take some time to really think it over and what you want to do with your writing and make your decisions based on that.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
Traditional publishing does not adapt very well or very quickly to new things, whether they be social changes or technological ones. Either they will change, or a new gatekeeper is going to appear very soon.
While the online market is getting saturated in new titles from self published authors, the stigma has’t left quite yet. And, while the traditional publishing market is getting flooded with the same five stories told slightly differently over and over again, they also are the ones who have a marketing foothold and they’re still the ones who actually produce the books that sell.
I can’t tell what’s going to happen yet, but it is certainly an interesting time to be making books.
What do you use?: Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer, Beta Readers
What genres do you write?: young adult, urban fantasy, fantasy, science fiction, post-apocalyptic, drama, action/adventure
What formats are your books in?: eBook, Print, Both eBook and Print
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