For Readers & Writers

from Susan Dennard

September 2, 2016

What's in this heart-to-heart?


Recent Goings On:

I'm at Dragon*Con!!! For the record, this a con that I have been attending since I was 13-years-old -- and I'm finally going in full cosplay this year! It's not a Dragon Age character as I'd hoped (I just didn't have the time to put something truly worthy of that franchise together), but my costume IS from my other Most Favorite Franchise Of All Time: Fallout.

Fallout 3, to be exact, because I way preferred that game to 4. (Vault 101 for life, man!) So check it out! It's a Lone Wondering Rosie the Riveter!

If you're at Dragon*Con too, PLEASE COME FIND ME!! Here's my schedule!

For the Mislanders:

Cover Reveals, Summaries, & Giveaways -- Oh My!

So much has happened since the last newsletter, specifically on the Windwitch front! First off, the UK revealed the cover!

Isn't it glorious? 😍 To my surprise (and delight) people seem to love it even more than the US cover! What about YOU? I'd love to hear!

We also shared a summary of the story to come! I really, really, REALLLLLY hope it entices you all to read. (I was so nervous sharing! Heck, I'm still nervous!)

Sometimes our enemies are also our only allies…

When an explosion destroys his ship, the world believes Prince Merik, Windwitch, is dead. Scarred yet alive, Merik is determined to prove his sister’s treachery. Upon reaching the royal capital, crowded with refugees, he haunts the streets, fighting for the weak—which leads to whispers of a disfigured demigod, the Fury, who brings justice to the oppressed.

When the Bloodwitch Aeduan discovers a bounty on Iseult, he makes sure to be the first to find her—yet in a surprise twist, Iseult offers him a deal. She will return money stolen from him, if he locates Safi. Now they must work together to cross the Witchlands, while constantly wondering, who will betray whom first?

After a surprise attack and shipwreck, Safi and the Empress of Marstok barely escape with their lives. Alone in a land of pirates, every moment balances on a knife’s edge—especially when the pirates’ next move could unleash war upon the Witchlands.

Finally, to wrap up this section, I want to do a giveaway!!

Recently, I was lucky enough to be drawn into an amazing discussion on diversity and representation in YA (you can read all the conversations here), and someone raised the excellent, incredibly important point that the best way to help improve representation is to support diverse authors.

So I wanted to do a giveaway of some of my personal favorites fantasy novels that fit this bill! Note: This giveaway is JUST FOR YOU ALL -- as a thank you for subscribing. :)

For the Daydreamers:

Writing Out of Order

Do you write chronologically? Or are you prone to writing whatever scene strikes your fancy? Do you skip around, hop ahead, circle back? Or are you inclined to move from scene 1 to scene 2 to 3 and beyond?
I always thought I was a chronological writer. I mean, I sit down and write what 1) I have listed on my outline, or 2) what I feel ought to come next. I follow my emotional dominoes as best I can, and in attempt to give every scene a cookie, I write lots of action and lots of arguing.
Yet, when I follow this method, I always find that my drafts are woefully out of order. None of the scene beats seem to hit that gradual incline of tension and stakes:
Instead, It’s like this:
Specifically, I tend to write WAY TOO MUCH in the first half of the book. Too much emotional intensity, too much inter-character conflict, too much action, too much tension, etc.
It’s like I pour out all the REALLY BIG scenes at once… and then I’m left floundering over what comes next. Only after much agonizing do I realize nothing comes next, but lots must come between.
An example. In Windwitch, the very first scene I wrote for the Bloodwitch named Aeduan was dark. Like, I’m talking Aeduan goes banana-pants crazy after an encounter hits a bit too close to home. People then die at Aeduan’s hands.
I loved the scene. It was one of those instances where it just poured out of me in a rush of fury and feeling. Yet, as soon as I finished, I was stuck. I could see nowhere for him to go after that scene. You see, I am very, very, very particular about writing murder—I simply do not allow my characters to kill unless it’s absolutely 100% critical to the story. (In my opinion, the emotional consequences are simply too big to have a character take human life. Ever.)
Needless to say, it was, um, not good that I had this crazy slaughter scene in literally the first scene I wrote for Aeduan.
So I ditched the pages, with much heartbreak, and tried a new approach (or many new approaches).
About a month ago, though, I was hitting the final hard scene beats that precede an epic climax, and BAM! I realized Aeduan’s vicious opener belonged here, at the end of his story. The stakes were running high, his emotions were running even higher, and it was very justifiable for him to take human life based on the previous scenes. (Note: I said justifiable, but not morally right. There’s a huge distinction, and it’s important to remember that in your writing!)
Aeduan’s bloodbath scene was not the only one I wrote in the wrong order for Windwitch. In fact, almost EVERY SINGLE SCENE for every single POV was something I wrote too early (or too late) in the story. But once I rearranged it like the ultimate jigsaw puzzle, I had a book with the proper arc of rising tension and stakes.
This happens every time I draft a novel, guys, yet it’s only with Windwitch that I finally realized what I’ve been doing all this time.
And honestly, y'all, it has been a MASSIVE epiphany for me—one that carries huge relief. I’m not a terrible writer! I’m not writing wasted words that will be thrown away forever. I’m simply not getting the scenes down in the proper order.
It’s like that story Liz Gilbert shared about the poet, Ruth Stone: She would catch the poem by its tail and she would pull it backwards into her body as she was transcribing on the page. In those instances, the poem would come up on a page perfect and intact, but backwards, from the last word to the first.
But that’s okay if the story comes out reversed or jumbled or upside down. It’s out, and words on the page can always be fixed.
What about you all? Do you write chronologically? Out of order? All jumbled and messy as I do?
Upcoming Events:

Full schedule to here!
September 2-4
Atlanta, GA

Full schedule to come!
November 11-12
Charleston, SC

Link Roundup:

As always, here are some links for your weekend!

photo by Emily Rae Photography

Copyright © 2016
Susan Dennard
All rights reserved.

110 West 40th St., Suite 2201
New York, NY 10018

I'm a misfit, a daydreamer, a fangirl, an animal-lover, and a (now gluten-free) cookie-eater.