Writing process, Genre, Writing Style

Part I

Take us through your writing process.
I start with character sketches, fleshing them out carefully and then make a story arc of the plot. I write the first draft fast, usually 2500 words a day. After I have it splashed onto the paper, I then start from chapter one and refine. I’m a ‘putter inner’ rather than a ‘taker outer’.
You started as a playwright, then made the leap to novelist. What caused you to make the change? How did/does one genre inform the other?
I was trained as an actress and director at USC drama school. I thought I would have a life in the theatre as a playwright, actress and director. However, after my first play was produced, I realized the kinds of stories I wanted to tell and how I wanted to tell them were better suited for novels. Which, in hindsight, makes sense, as my love affair with novels started at a young age. My background in the theatre influences my writing a great deal, especially as it comes to detailed characters and dialogue. And story arcs are the same in any medium.
Your work combines “romance” and “intrigue” and “character studies” – how do you define your writing style? And how did that develop?
My aim is well-written page-turners that explore complex characters in suspenseful situations. I write what I like to read, which is to say, I’m interested in the dynamics between people and what motivates and influences them, as well as the redemptive power of love. My writing style leans toward the lyrical and poetic but not at the expense of story. One must never be so in love with their sentences that they let the reader’s attention sway for even one second. Get them to turn the page. Always. I developed this style by writing. A lot. Over time, your voice emerges. 

Check back April 15 for Part II

Elena Hartwell

Author and developmental editor.