Action, Depth, Reality: @yaquote on Writing in Layers

In week #8 of Turning Tales, @yaquote taught us a sobering fact about finding treasure. Research is close to his heart: Each of his four novels revolves around an important issue and he takes extra care to make sure all information he provides is accurate. @yaquote lives in Edisto Beach, South Carolina, where he is currently working on his fifth novel. You may find him writing under an umbrella on any Carolina beach.

We asked the author about his complete works and his writing process. Here’s his answer:

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In my writing, I try to teach a lesson about something without lecturing. To teach the lesson requires research to verify the story provides an accurate accounting. I’m happy if my readers walk away knowing something they didn’t before they read my story.

With Shrimpin’ Gold, the lesson was about the struggles of the shrimping industry in the US. Shrimpers live a different lifestyle than others. They have their own close-knit communities of shrimpers. They are families that compete but at the same time help each other. I gave my last edit to a shrimping family I met during the writing process. I wanted them to read the story and confirm that the issues in the book were written accurately and in a positive light for their industry. Each of my novels has a topic in that vein.

Hard Road teaches about some realities of mental illness. I wrote the story to help, in a small way, make that illness more transparent versus the typically hidden diagnosis of many who suffer in silence and alone. But at the same time, a topic like that would likely be boring without a story to hold it up. Hard Road delivers on that goal, I think.

In my first novel, Turf and Surf, the story deals with resort communities and how the locals survive the onslaught of seasonal workers and tourists. The destructive dichotomy of a paradise overrun with people and development is also fundamental to the message. So, how do we balance enjoying our beautiful vacation spots when we have too many visitors? Bumbling crooks and outrageous characters hopefully give a laugh or two in this story.

Finally, I have a series in process, with one book published and the second one complete but not yet released. The first book is Then She Was Dead. This series is about cyber security and cyber warfare. The main character does not start as a warrior of any sort, and he has a wife and twin daughters to consider. The family develops together in the series. This topic may become more personal as online, internet, and social media issues grow more significant to all of us.

In my writing experience, once a story concept is developed, I’ll grab a good ink pen and a composition notebook, head for the beach, and start writing. Other writers tell me that I’m blessed with the ability to write from a cinematic point of view. There are pros and cons to that blessing.

The pro is that it usually results in a good story, especially with thrillers. The story is what counts to readers. At the same time, I have to work to insert the depth of characters during my second pass. The reader typically wants to know about the characters’ emotions and thoughts. And, of course, that character oversight can be the con to writing action driven stories.

In my world, once the writing begins, a movie starts playing out in my head, and the story flows. I write what I see. Dialogue and action are key elements, and it just happens. Occasionally, I have gone back to type the words from the hand-written version and found a line with the same word written multiple times, like my subconscious was stuck on something and couldn’t move forward. The weird part is I don’t remember writing those words.

When the ink flows on paper, it’s like being in a trance; the story writes itself. As you may know, the reputation of the cinematic POV is not one to insert deep character feelings; it is the story’s action. To fix that, I will make a second pass to add imagery like flowers, the wind, the temperature, more character descriptions, and more dialogue, if necessary, to fully expose the characters.

At the same time, writing in this layered fashion tends to cause problems of consistency with characters, locations, timeline issues, and multi-dimensional plot lines. I’m hoping a more disciplined use of the Papyrus Author platform will help avoid such conflicts. Nobody said it would be easy.

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What are your favorite methods of research? What are some sources and resources you keep coming back to?

This post is part of an ongoing series about our winning Turning Tales authors and the secrets to their writing. Previously, @efierro3172 gave the most important impulse to would-be writers:
“Just go for it!”.