Here’s a Young Adult (YA) Author visiting the Blog just to change things up a bit.
Holly Bodger, tell us about your writing process…
Starting at the Finish Line
Okay. First, this is going to sound crazy to some people, but here it is: I write my endings first.
Before you throw me into the “flies by the seat of her pants” bucket, let me say that I am not a pantser. I write fairly detailed outlines, and prepare character & world bibles that go into ridiculously minute details. For example, I recently spent two days drawing a map of the high school where some of my books take place. It included EVERYTHING I could think of and yes, I even mean trees. Of different colors. And sizes. And shapes. Okay, *maybe* I was procrastinating a little bit, too!
Needless to say, I like details and plans. I like knowing where I’m going before I even start. But this is exactly why I write my endings first and by first I mean before the outlines and story bibles and pictures of trees. To me, the ending is the whole point of the story. It’s the place where you want to take your characters. It’s the “big scene” that readers invest 8+ hours to arrive at.
It’s these big scenes that give me my new ideas. I’ll be sitting around doing something that has nothing to do with writing or trees, and I’ll just get this picture in my head of this explosive (not literally) kind of climatic scene. Usually, I write the whole thing out right after it comes to me. Then I work backwards. I ask myself what kind of characters would end up in this kind of scene and what they would have gone through to get there.
Once I have a vague idea of this, I write a very detailed outline which I then break into chapters. After that, I write my opening. Openings can take me days or even weeks because they’re the place where I really discover my characters. When I’m happy with the opening, I move forward to the next chapters although I rarely write these in order. I tend to bounce back and forth between the ending and the beginning and the middle, planting more details as I go. This is probably not a typical way to write a book, but I’m a firm believer in doing what works for you. And for me, writing my ending first works.
More About Holly:
A long-time resident of Ottawa, Canada, Holly has been working in publishing since she graduated with an English degree from the University of Ottawa. Holly’s debut novel, 5 TO 1, was released on May 12, 2015 from Knopf Books for Young Readers (Penguin Random House).
5 to 1 Synopsis: In the year 2054, after decades of gender selection, Koyanagar–a country severed from India–now has a ratio of five boys for every girl, and women are an incredibly valuable commodity. Tired of wedding their daughters to the highest bidder and determined to finally make marriage fair, the women of Koyanagar have instituted a series of tests so that every boy has the chance to win a wife. But after fighting so hard for freedom against the old ways of gender selection, these women have become just as deluded as their male predecessors. Sudasa Singh doesn’t want to be a wife and Contestant Five, a boy competing to be her husband, has other plans as well. Sudasa’s family wants nothing more than for their daughter to do the right thing and pick a husband who will keep her comfortable—and caged. Five’s family wants him to escape by failing the tests. As the tests advance, each thwarts the other until they slowly realize that they might want the same thing. This beautiful, unique novel is told from alternating points of view—Sudasa’s in verse and Five’s in prose—allowing readers to feel both characters’ pain and grasps at hope.
Visit Holly for more about her books at the following sites: