Writing Process Blog Hop!

My awesome agency sister Charlie Holmberg (whose story, The Paper Magician, is coming out in September!) tagged me in a blog hop!

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I feel special.

1) What am I working on?

A story called SWORN, which is a contemporary fantasy about dragons in the Rocky Mountains. It’s got ties to ancient Welsh legend, war sparked by a family feud, and lots of awesome romance.

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It’s ‘finished,’ so right now I’m drafting the sequel (creatively titled SWORN II). But as I write I keep coming up with small things I’d like to add/tweak in the first book, so I’m kind of working on both.

2) How does my work differ from others of the same genre?


But seriously, I feel like SWORN kind of sits in a unique place on the spectrum between high fantasy and urban fantasy. It has a heavy romantic element and it takes place in “this” world, but (to me) the worldbuilding and plot feel more like high fantasy. Except I’m super-intimidated by the term “high fantasy.” Is “low high fantasy” a thing? Basically I LOVE urban/contemporary fantasy and I LOVE high fantasy and I LOVE hidden world fantasy (like Harry Potter), so I SMASHED them together!

3) Why do I write what I write?

Hello. Because fantasy. It makes me feel like this:

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4) How does my writing process work?

I always start with an idea ‘seed.’ The idea seed for SWORN came when I moved to Utah from the Midwest and realized how huge and wild the mountains are. I looked at them and thought, “Dragons could live there and no one would know.”

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BAM! That idea sparked more ideas, which collided with things I knew and made MORE ideas, shooting off in a thousand different directions. I have a decent working knowledge of world mythology (which is full of dragons), so the ‘soil’ of my mind was already a pretty fertile place. As soon as that seed hit, EXPLOSION!

As for my actual process, I am neither pantser nor outliner. I tend to have a good, general idea of characters plus a list of events before I start a draft. Like so:

-I need Character A to fall through a portal to a hidden world.

-I want Character A and Character B to meet in an awkward situation.

-Someone close to Character A needs to betray her so Character A develops trust issues.

-Character B needs The Thing He Loves Most taken away.

-They overcome everything and live happily ever after, more or less.


Then I outline the first three to five chapters. Once I reach the end of the outline (by which point I have usually taken new ideas and gone off in a slightly or entirely different direction) I outline the next few chapters. And so it goes until I reach the end. That’s the first draft.

I let the story roll around in my subconscious a bit, then read through and make a list of changes. I make the changes. I realize there are more changes to make. So I make those, too. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Etc. Finally I can’t take it anymore, so I stop making changes and decide to be done. The vast majority of my time is spent on revision and polishing.

Exciting, is it not?

A lot of the time it’s difficult. I have serious problems just getting myself to open the document. But once I get over that, I love it. It’s kind of thrilling, living so many lives.

Thanks for tagging me, Charlie! I’m tagging Caroline McDonough, because she is talented and one of the smartest people I know. I want to hear more about what she’s working on!

About Caitlyn McFarland

Mom of three girls, writer of fantasy novels.
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1 Response to Writing Process Blog Hop!

  1. Pingback: Writing Process | Caroline McDonough

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