Today, we have special guest Ally Carter here telling us about her writing process. You all know Ally from her Gallagher girl series. Her latest book hit the shelves just a few days ago ‘Don’t Judge a Girl by her Cover.’ Let’s check out what Ally has to say.
What is your brainstorming process for a new book?
Books usually come to me in stages. In the past, they’ve always started with a main character and a central conflict that basically deals with the worst thing that can happen to that character at that point in time. From there I usually know what the character’s ultimate goal is, and a general idea of what sort of obstacles she’ll have to face along the way. Figuring out the specifics about those obstacles usually comes with the writing. Sometimes it comes from staring at the blank screen. Sometimes from talking through the plot with trusted friends. Sometimes from taking a nice nap. Really there’s no predicting where a good brainstorm might come from.
Can you explain your typical work week day?
I’ve learned that there’s really no such thing as typical for me as far as writing is concerned. As a rule, though, I’m more productive at night than in the morning, so I usually spend my days running errands, reading, and taking care of the non-writing aspects of having a career as a writer (responding to emails, talking with my editor and agent, doing paperwork). And then I really start getting serious about working on the book in the late afternoon or early evening. Of course, all of this varies significantly as deadlines come and go.
Tell us about when you made the decision to write.
It wasn’t really a decision I actively made as much as something that I have always been interested in and started dabbling in more and more, starting projects that were more and more ambitious, until finally I had a finished product that I thought might possibly be good enough to get and agent and, ultimately, get published.
What suggestions do you have for aspiring writers?
I have a lengthy “For Writers” section on my website (www.allycarter.com) so I’d encourage your readers to visit that to read some things in more detail, but the condensed version is easy: read as much as you can and write as much as you can. Really writing is something that you only learn by practice. One of the biggest mistakes that I think most aspiring writers make is that they spend more time talking about writing than they spend actually working on the craft. By just putting pen to paper (or fingers to keys) you already have a huge head start on the competition.
Tell us about what you’re working on right now and what we can expect from you in the near future.
I just completed a very rough, very early draft of Gallagher Girls 4. I’m afraid I can’t share a title or a release date, but I certainly hope that readers will be seeing it sometime in 2010. Also coming in 2010 (probably January or February) is a new book that is possibly the first in a new series featuring an entirely new set of characters. I’m afraid I can’t tell you the title yet, but I can say that it’s about a girl named Kat who grew up in a family of con-men and art thieves and she is desperate to leave the family business. It was a lot of fun to write and I sincerely hope that Gallagher Girls fans give these new characters a shot. If they do, I’m sure they’ll grow to love Kat and her crew of thieves as much as I do.
Omg, I’m so excited to hear about a new Gallagher book and a possible new series! Thank you so much for joining us today, Ally. For those of you interested in knowing more about Ally Carter, visit her website at AllyCarter.com.
Thanks for checking out Writers on Writing, everyone! Next week, we have Andrea Dana in the house so make sure you stay tuned in for that. Have a great week!
Ally Carter is a writer living and working in the Midwest. She loved school so much she kept going…and going…and going…until finally she had to graduate. Now she has degrees from Oklahoma State University and Cornell University and a house and a job and other very grown-up things.