I'm so honored to have had the opportunity to interview one of my absolute favorite authors for our author interview line-up. I asked Lauren Oliver to tell us a little bit about her writing habits and how she's gotten where she is today as an author. I hope you enjoy it!
If you live under a rock and haven't heard of or read her amazing books, she has two books out right now from HarperTeen: Before I Fall and Delirium. Her third book, Pandemonium, comes out in early 2012.
My interview with Lauren:
1. How have you noticed your writing styles/skills/habits changing since you first wrote Before I Fall?
I’m sure they must have in some way—I like to think I’ve improved, at least a little!—but to be honest, no, the process feels much the same to me, and my tendencies, flaws, strengths, and habits feel very much the same.
2. Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I’m a plotter now, by necessity. I didn’t used to be, but I also used to write 800 books with next to no plot. So now I do try to rigorously outline my books. I find it forces me to think rigorously about character, too, as I am essentially plotting the evolution of character as I think about the evolution of the plot.
3. Do you have any tried and true methods for finding and fixing your own plot holes?
Hmm. Well, I try to plot my books pretty rigorously before I begin writing, because I find that the best way to fix gaping plot holes is to avoid them in the first place. But of course, that doesn’t always work. What functions in an outline might not have a place in a manuscript, or might just be boring or cliché. I always take a break between drafts, because I find a new perspective helps. Other than that…there’s no magic formula for me. I just think, and think, and think about it, and eventually a solution occurs—most of the time, at least!
4. Do you have a designated writing place? Can you share a picture? Does it change from day to day or are you pretty consistent with where the magic happens?
It definitely changes day to day. I often write at my dining room table, but I am very busy and I travel a lot, so I am equally as likely to be writing on my laptop on a plane or in the backseat of a car. I am also notoriously for doing a ton of writing on my blackberry. I wrote the majority of Before I Fall on my blackberry during my commute.
5. Do you have any writing mistakes that you just can't seem to break? Any words that you almost always have to look up the spelling of?
I can’t stop using the word lowly when I mean softly, as in: “He spoke softly.” It drives my editor crazy. Also, I use the words “seems” and “suddenly” far too often, and in general am overly verbose and descriptive. I mean, really, if I start thinking about it, I could probably point to about a million of them.
6. How many rounds of revisions do you go through on average before passing your MS on to your agent?
Probably one to three. My first drafts are incredibly, incredibly messy—character names change throughout, geographical locations are designated by TK…my first drafts are almost hieroglyphs. So I always do one major clean-up revision, and then usually another, closer edit.
Thanks so much for the interview, Lauren!