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HM WARD DISCUSSES HER WRITING PROCESS

HM WARD - HOLLYWell, you can’t call her lazy. She churns out more books in a year than many writers do in a lifetime. And although HM Ward may write fast, she puts care into detail and has created a process that not only maximizes her time, but feeds the beast (her fans) as often as their hunger pangs for more are demanded.

 

I had the opportunity to connect with HM Ward about how she creates such amazing stories, both long and short, in such little time, how she overcame her dyslexia and her suggests for others who would like to follow her path.

 

What is your writing process? Do you outline first or do you just pants-it and then how do you revise your work until it goes to your editor?

I map out the story in my head, fully, and then I write it. After that, I go over it once, smoothing and fleshing things out, and then hand it to the first editor. They’ll make notes where I need to clarify, and after I do that, it goes to another editor. Then proofreaders, then publication.

 

My editors are private. One is my husband and the other is an employee. I’ve tried going outside, but I’ve had trouble finding people that can turn things around fast, and whose judgment I can trust completely.

 

So, you don’t outline at all?

That’s right, no outlines. And I won’t begin a book until I have the entire thing mapped out in my mind. My formal training is in theology and I was taught to write sermons. My books mirror that style by telling a story through ‘moves.’ Each move is mapped out in detail and characters are decided before I begin.

 

Most of the time, I give the characters a Myers-Briggs personality profile type. Ivy, in DEMON KISSED, is an INFJ and that book has Calvinistic tones of predestination—it doesn’t matter what you do, your life will still follow the same path. For an INFJ that idea is terrifying. We’re control freaks, idealists, and yes, I’m one.

 

How long does it take for the story to germinate in your mind, before you start writing?

It varies. Sometimes I have an idea, but not the scope of the story, so I set it aside. Other times it just comes to me, usually because there’s an emotional attachment to the storyline. SCANDALOUS was dreamed up one day and I wrote it the next week. It’s about a missed kiss. One day, I was wondering what would have happened to me if Mike didn’t kiss me that night 20 years ago. What would have happened to us? The story germinated quickly, because it was so personal.

 

And you do your own covers, right?

Yes, I make my own covers. I do the graphic design. I also shot the covers of the DEMON KISSED series, STONE PRISION, and CATALYST. Recently, it’s been too time-consuming to do my own shoots – I’d rather be writing. But, I still try to choose covers that are evocative, that I’d shoot myself, and that readers respond to.  Things that are similar, but different.

 

How many words do you write per day?

It depends on the day. Max is 14,000 words a day and I’m a babbling wreck at the end. About 5,000 per day is comfy. SCANDALOUS was written in 6 days, start to finish. I was curious to see how fast I could write a novel.

 

What time do you start writing every day?

I usually try to write in the morning. By the end of the day, my brain has turned to mush. And if it gets too close to bedtime, I’ll spend the entire night turning stories over in my head.

 

How often do you take breaks?

As often as my physical therapist tells me to or I get yelled at because she can tell. So, every 30 minutes to an hour, I get up and walk around. It’s annoying if I’m in the zone, but necessary.

 

How long are your novels?

They range from 300-500 pages. I also write serials – which I really enjoy reading and writing.  Those tend to be around 150 pages.

 

What does the first editor of yours do that the second editor doesn’t?

The 1st editor looks for structural issues with the overall story, timeline, and my word choices. I’ve been known to drift into writing poetry at times. His job is to pull it back to common usage so the reader is reading the story and not distracted by the words.

 

Why do you use more than one proofreader?

Because there’s more than one typo. I’m dyslexic and have Irlen syndrome. In other words, I can’t see very well at all. Reading is difficult and I can’t catch my mistakes. Proofreaders help me catch the typos that the first two rounds of editing missed.

Guest Post: Top 5 Nonfiction Resources for Beginners

 

Starting as a Nonfiction Writer

Nonfiction is an honest, helpful, and emotional genre that tells the true stories of people’s lives. It’s personal and poetic. When you’re starting out as a nonfiction writer, you may wonder what makes it that much different from fiction. Or is it just the same with true facts? How do you craft a great biography versus a memoir? What types of editing programs can help you if you want to self-publish your material? There are tons of online and print materials but below is a list of the best resources for beginners just starting to collect materials.

Top 5 Resources

·      Grammarly: Grammarly covers every base you need as a beginning writer. They have teaching tools, a grammar check, a proofreader, plagiarism checker, and the tool goes so far as to learn your style for a more customized experience. When you’re first starting out, you may not be the best when it comes to grammar and punctuation. Grammarly can help you learn when to use an em dash and an en dash. It can help you with figuring out which parts of your style fit together and which clash. The tool learns how you write to teach you how to avoid errors. Good writing starts with good mechanics. If you can utilize Grammarly to build up a great writer’s framework, that will show in the quality of your work down the road.

·      On Writing Well by William Zinsser: This book changed the way I thought about nonfiction writing and helped me improve my techniques immensely. Not only does it cover the basics, but it dives deeper into diction, syntax, and writing as a craft. It inspires you to keep writing as well as improve your skills. For a beginner, this book will help you pick yourself back up after a rejection but also put you on the right path to growing as a writer. Pick it up the next time you go to the bookstore and you won’t regret it.

·      Writer’s Market: This is always quoted to be the writer’s bible. It has every agent, publisher, and idea you need to help you be a successful writer. Looking for an outlet for your nonfiction biography about Andrew Jackson, you can find a publisher and agent within Writer’s Market. They even provide a payment chart to help you figure out how much you should pay for editing services. Writer’s Market also includes several articles in the front of the publication to help you realize your writing goals. Whether you want to write articles, blog posts, or novels on your chosen topic, Writer’s Market can give you realistic and thorough advice while connecting you to the resources you need.

·      On Writing by Stephen King: I love this book and recommend it to all of my writer friends. It’s funny, interesting, and filled with insights that many beginning writers need to know. It’s half biography and half lessons. You get to see how Stephen King tells his own story of becoming a writer, but also get his advice on how to become a better one. Although he is a fiction writer, the advice can apply to both nonfiction and fiction writers. Understanding and applying his lessons honed my skills as a writer and definitely improved my form.

·      The Elements of Style by William Strunk and E.B. White: This is an essential book for anyone trying to become a writer. It teaches you how to write correctly and understand the mechanics of writing. Just like building a house, writing starts with framework. As a beginner, making it your mission to learn grammar, punctuation, and style will not only help you write better but will make editing easier.

Each resource fulfills essential knowledge that a beginning writer needs while pushing and motivating a writer to become better. These resources help you from foundation to cleanup and any beginner who has the desire to become a writer should certainly invest the time and money in them.

By Nikolas Baron

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Bio:

Nikolas discovered his love for the written word in Elementary School, where he started spending his afternoons sprawled across the living room floor devouring one Marc Brown children’s novel after the other and writing short stories about daring pirate adventures. After acquiring some experience in various marketing, business development, and hiring roles at internet startups in a few different countries, he decided to re-unite his professional life with his childhood passions by joining Grammarly’s marketing team in San Francisco. He has the pleasure of being tasked with talking to writers, bloggers, teachers, and others about how they use Grammarly’s online proofreading application to improve their writing. His free time is spent biking, traveling, and reading.