I’ve Been Hopped!

Last week, screenwriter Michelle Muldoon participated in a Blog Hop about “writing process” and handed the baton over to me. Or rather waved it ironically in my face, because she asked if I wanted to participate just after I started composing a blog post about HOW DULL blog posts about writing process are.

After my last post, another writer asked me “Doesn’t process fascinate those who like to make things? (and by make she meant artistic things in particular). My answer was that I think process is interesting to a point. If the writer’s posts are all about ME, MYSELF, and MY BOOKS and there’s nothing about them to draw me in or connect me with the human parts of myself, then yes, I get bored. I don’t really want an explanation of your process, but a way to enter into it.

by Michael V. Manalo

by Michael V. Manalo


If you took the last novel I wrote (INTERGALACTIC: a Pop Space Opera), changed its clothes, sobered it up, and spun it 180 degrees, you’d get my current WIP: Winterspring and Summerfall.

Intergalactic is comical, set in the future, and based on an outrageous Lady Ga-Gaesque character who must prevent an interplanetary war.

Winterspring and Summerfall is literary fiction set in the 1980’s and is an amalgam of experiences (my own, my friends, and others around me). It takes place over a small bit of terrain, one person’s coming of age and opening into sexual identity. There’s no shooting across the galaxy, only a lonely girl who sees the world in her own strange way, and whose first intimate encounter is with a neighbour girl who, years later, denies the relationship and bullies her.


When I first moved into my neighbourhood and took a walk through the beautiful cemetery up the street, I noticed the way two trees growing together looked like a fox jumping out of a bush. In the fall the fox-tree is the best, because one tree (the fox) turns golden while the other is evergreen – so there is more distinction between fox and bush.

When one of my neighbours had her children publicly ripped from her by Child Protection Services, I witnessed the whole thing almost like a play. Emotionally stunned, I replayed the moment over and over, and the anguished cries of both mother and child rang in my ears (and my dreams) for days.

These are the things I file away in the library stacks of my brain, where they mingle and introduce themselves to each other. One snippet of conversation from two days ago might have an affair with an embarrassing moment I had in high school, and BANG – their offspring come knocking and demand to be written down.

Most of what I write is intuitive (so if I’m giving tips to budding writers, then I say trust your intuition). Most of what comes yanks on my shirt when I’m trying to THINK of what to write next.

And yes, I do primarily write speculative fiction, but the ideas come from my observations of THIS world and its inhabitants. Ideas and images and encounters mix themselves up like a great science experiment. So much so, that what I write surprises even me.


Several years ago at a SCBWI conference, Judy Blume was asked this same question and she answered, “Well, it’s different with each book.”

Same goes for me. Brigitta of the White Forest was originally a dutifully outlined screenplay until I cut and pasted it into a word document, changed the verb tenses, and added details (okay, so it was much more painful than that, but that’s the basic idea.). WS and SF was written by the seat of my pants during NaNoWriMo. 30,000 words of it in the final week. All I had was two girls in a treehouse and a bunch of childhood memories (See Why Do I Write What I Do).

If anyone out there cares, I prefer to write first thing in the morning before doing anything (especially checking social media, because not only does it disturb my peace and trigger my Monkey Mind, it sucks me into a time vortex and suddenly it’s 3 hours later and I haven’t written a thing). I do contract work as an artist-in-the schools and as a studio teacher, so I’ve been known to get up at 5:30 AM in order to write before I go to work.

And there’s coffee involved. Lots of coffee.

Writing Process Blog Hop springs over to multi-talented Christian Fink-Jensen.



  1. Apis Teicher
    Jun 10, 2014

    I love reading about the creative process, because it varies so wildly from person to person. I’ve had people ask about both my writing and my art, only to come away disappointed when there is no specific formula to it. Both art with an idea, an image so vivid I can’t get it out of your head (like the fox-tree in your post); where it goes from there changes with every project.
    I suppose for the most part I like surprises; characters that take me somewhere I hadn’t expected them to, images that capture something beyond what first inspired me. I find that the more I plan ahead the more rigid the creation becomes, and it loses it’s spark. The times that I just let it flow and worry about the fine-tuning later, my work just comes together better. NanoWriMo is a wonderful example – a chance to just write, to put it on paper ( or on screen as it may be) and worry about editing later.

    Oops, and there I go, side-tracked. Lovely thought-provoking post, but I better get back to my work!

    • Danika
      Jun 10, 2014

      “I’ve had people ask about both my writing and my art, only to come away disappointed when there is no specific formula to it.”

      I know! I’ve been on panels on process, inspiration, and editing and each author had different ways each worked. I saw audience members taking notes and I wanted to shout, “Just write!” Of course, if you’re new to the game, you have to start somewhere, and perhaps in imitating someone else’s process, one might find their own.

      I like surprises, too. And the NaNo last year was so much fun because 2/3 of the story was complete surprise.

  2. Diane Thornton
    Jun 11, 2014

    Thanks for posting, Danika. Always interested in this stuff!


  1. Christian Fink-Jensen » Hopped up on blog hops (plus squirrels) - […] week the amazing Danika Dinsmore invited me to participate in a “blog hop.” After much consideration (.00257 seconds), I…

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