Writing Process Blog Tour

I was recently asked by fellow writer Victoria Addis to participate in the currently trending Writing Process Blog Tour, a request I’m more than happy to partake in. Victoria is currently working on a fascinating medieval fantasy series entitled “Wulfrun: The Ghost Detective,” which is aimed at middle schoolers. You can check out her progress here and await its release as eagerly as I am:

http://thecharminghermit.blogspot.com

As for myself? Well, here we go:

1. What am I working on now?

Triumphator_Cover_V1-1
Early Front Cover Draft of MAGNUS: Triumphator

Right now, I’m busy wrapping up the final edit of my second book “MAGNUS: Triumphator.” It’s the middle book in my series about Pompey the Great and will be released in July. Writing this book has been a complete blast! The response to the first book, “Rising Sun,” has been phenomenal so far, but I’m even more excited for people to get their hands on this next chapter. Although I’m incredibly proud of “Rising Sun,” “Triumphator” exceeds it in every way possible. The difference between the first and second books is so great, in fact, that it’s led me to believe I will need to go back and rework “Rising Sun” later this year to bring it up to the same level as “Triumphator.”

After “Triumphator” is complete, I’ll be moving on to Book Three in the MAGNUS Trilogy. While I had previously given it a title – and prematurely announced it to the world, no less – I’ve decided to change it to a phrase at the end of “Triumphator” which has great significance to the overall theme of the third book. “What is it?” you ask? Well, I suppose you’ll have to wait until the end of “Triumphator” to find out!

10170918_305285502961598_6238873925543400807_nIn what little down time I have, I’ve also been tinkering with another project that won’t see the light of day until the summer of 2015 at the earliest. It’s a completely original work this time around that will be a far cry from the Ancient Rome depicted in the MAGNUS series. I have a feeling this one will be more geared toward the Young Adult crowd (but don’t hold me to that!). It’s basically the story of three siblings in a fictional land resembling feudal China that become separated during a crisis. How do they deal with life when each child is alone and under the impression that his/her other siblings are dead? Okay, that’s enough of a spoiler for now…

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Gnaeus Pompey Magnus, circa 70 B.C.
Gnaeus Pompey Magnus, circa 70 B.C.

There are two differences that come to mind. The first is simple enough: the protagonist, Gnaeus Pompey Magnus. While he’s always been a player in the story of Julius Caesar – whose story dominates the Ancient Rome genre by a long shot – he’s never had a book devoted to telling his own story. I’m thrilled that I’m the first to tackle it, as it’s an incredible story that truly deserves to be told.

The second difference would be the content of the books. Many writers in the Ancient Rome genre focus on the blood, battles, and violence of the era and tend to leave everything else as secondary or nonexistent elements. While war and violence factor into each book of the MAGNUS trilogy, I’d have to say they are certainly not the main focus of my books. I frequently spend less time describing the violence in war than I do the internal turmoil of decisions my main character makes. As much as this was the case with “Rising Sun,” “Triumphator” scales this fact up quite a bit. One of the things that has thrilled me thus far into “Rising Sun’s” exposure to the world is that women have seemed to love the book as much as men. I believe this has to do with my central focus of the story – relationships and emotions – and the tension those two things cause the protagonist.

3. Why do I write what I do?

I definitely write about what interests and enthralls me. Today I’m 200,000 words into the MAGNUS trilogy and can honestly say that I’ve not been bored once! I first fell in love with Ancient Rome seven years ago and my love has only increased with time. It’s a fascinating era full of incredible characters so that makes it much easier to stay interested.

4. How does my writing process work?

With the MAGNUS series, I was fortunate enough to have the timeline already supplied for me as the story sticks to purely historical events. The life of Pompey the Great was too massive to capture in one novel, so the first step was to figure out the logical places to divide the books. Once that was done, I had to decide which portions of the story to keep and which were unnecessary or out of place with the rest of the story.

The first two steps were by far the easiest parts of the process! Although I had a timeline of events, it was now my job to fill in the details. While a handful of conversations or speeches from his life are still available to us (such as the phase he spoke which gave me the title for “Rising Sun”), his story is mostly written by historians as: event after event, who was there, what happened. With the skeleton now in place, it was then my job to add the organs, muscle, and skin in order to create a living, moving being.

Once I had my main events in place, I basically focused on building a chapter or two around each event. For the most part, I can get through the first draft of two to three chapters in one week. As I work best in the morning, I block that part of the day aside for writing. Recently, I’ve tried to go back and do second draft editing in the evenings, which is the part of the process that really tends to flesh out the story in significant ways. Coffee and writing work hand in hand under most circumstances!

Once I’ve finished the first two drafts, I go back and reread the story to fill in small details, change some of the wording, drop unnecessary segments, and make any other number of changes that pop up while writing the rest of the story. After this step, I hand the third draft off to two unbiased readers in order to get their feedback on the story’s content and flow, make those recommended changes, and submit it to an editor for proofreading/editing.

Whew! Now that I think about it, that’s a lot of work! I’d better get back to it if I want to finish “Triumphator” in time for a July release. You can follow its progress on my Facebook page here:

http://www.facebook.com/authorrobertallenjohnson

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s