Lovelies, here are my thoughts:
I start with an idea or a visual image (some girls playing in a school yard - Pride & Princesses - my own school memories), then add some words... (in the beginning, I wrote the story, just a few pages - which became Pride & Princesses and drew some fun sketches).
The language was not 'nice' or 'pretty' the way I ended up publishing some of it in Pride & Princesses. The language was real. It is a bit more fairy story now but P&P became it's own world and has its own language. The original title was also different as were the names of the main characters. I remembered words girls used at school and had to be reminded to leave them out (after all, this is YA and bad language does tend to 'date' a story in its own way!) I hope I found a way to give a sense of some of the meanness and also kindnesses that teenage girls display.
After all that, those characters and words have their own voice, my voice. No one else has my voice but in the end the characters should live on the page and have their own voices... does that make sense? I hope so!
I think 'voice' in writing is the most important thing and I don't know if you are the best writer or reader in the world (you may be) but I know no one else does it like you do. And no one else should. No one else sounds like you and no one has had the exact same experiences you have had.
That said, sometimes it pays to write about things others can relate to. In Pride & Princesses there is this spark of first love that I think all teenagers feel. Mark and Phoebe feel it, even though they don't put it into words very successfully until the end...
After that, ideas, story and characters take over but I usually start with a plan, at least in my mind and sometimes on paper - and I think that is very important. The rough draft starts in your mind then becomes words on paper that lead to a first draft.
What follows is the first plan (more like ideas) I wrote on my laptop for the novel that became Wuthering Nights (although I couldn't think of the title I wanted to use back then...) Often I also scribble notes on paper, but it's harder to reproduce them!
As you can see, this 'plan' is a total mess, terrible spelling and no punctuation - but don't worry about that stuff initially.
I wasn't even sure I would add vampires, but I know I'd thought about it well before I wrote this. I had the images that I wanted to share in my mind on paper as well as the first line:
NOTES: (early draft of Wuthering Nights)
Just for myself. Just for fun.
I would say, I knew and had read each of these classic stories, in particular, Wuthering Heights, before I started.
Some readers asked me why I didn't make Pride & Princesses more like Pride and Prejudice (thankyou for that - great question!) Pride and Princesses was always meant to be a unique story... just the scene at the dance is classic Pride and Prejudice. The Hotness is going to be more of the classic storyline... On some level writers should aim to please our readers, of course, but first, we must please ourselves. Trust me, if you don't want to read it (over & over again) chances are others may not either!
So, I experimented with Wuthering Nights - adding vampires - but I had been obsessed with the story as a young teenager so, again, I could play around with the story arc quite easily in my mind as I knew it so well.
Anne Eyre (which is based on Jane Eyre - obviously) was a different story entirely. It is very clearly the closest thing I would ever write to fan fiction. It too is an experiment. Anne Eyre follows the original story of Jane Eyre (in a far more #YA manner) because I wanted to see if readers liked that. I don't think I would ever write a modern version so close to the original again and of course the original is much better! That said, I enjoyed writing Anne Eyre. I like the idea of a two-hander scene stealer - the whole of my story is mainly a back and forth conversation between "Nathanial" and "Anne".
Here is what I know. You have to spend an enormous amount of your days (and nights) working on your work and I don't imagine in a billion years I have perfected mine.
You have to be consistent and you have to keep going! HUGS:)