Blog Tour 2014 – The Writing Process

1.  What am I working on at the moment?
I have been working on further revisions to my novel The Opera.  I had completed revisions last Summer and have sporadically been submitting to agents.  However, it’s been an enormous challenge to find agents whose interests seem relevant to the storyline.  No one seems to be looking for the sort of novel I wrote.  It’s also been difficult for me to identify the genre of the novel.  I struggle with query writing as it is, and this novel feels impossible for me to describe and properly represent within the brief context of a query.  As a result of these obstacles, I’ve decided to further revise.  Now that I’m more familiar with publishing industry, I hope to strengthen my themes and be able to effectively define the storyline.  It may seem strange that I can’t categorize my own book, but it just doesn’t quite fit into the scope of what is being sought by agents, nor is it classifiable enough to label.  I don’t think it falls under any specific genre.
2.  How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I have been submitting the novel as literary/commercial fiction, however when I have researched the definitions of these categories, there are elements that my novel either has or lacks which defies these types of fiction.  I write realistic fiction, realism, which tends to be dramatic, often brutal.  Dennis Lehane is the only author whose works I can think of to compare my genre to, not that my talent is comparable to his.  In terms of my own writing, the best example is my novel Amon-Re which I’ve been posting here on this blog.  If anyone can think of a genre for that, enlighten me.  I think literary and commercial fiction are both too broad and too restricting.  The Opera has similar elements to Amon-Re.  My stories tend to be character driven and include themes of substance abuse, street life, homelessness, and childhood sexual abuse.  I like plots and scenarios to be realistic and I sometimes present lifestyles and experiences that are not necessarily reflective of societal norms.  Often the realities focus on worlds within a darker side of life that many people are never touched by in their own lives.  Despite this fact, I try to make the protagonists identifiable in order for readers to comprehend and empathize with their motivations.  I have a strong leaning towards psychology, so I try to ensure my characters remain true to their individual natures and that their choices make sense.  I also enjoy establishing a philosophical and introspective narrative.
3.  Why do I write what I do?
I’ve always had a leaning toward dark themes, even as a child.  I used to want a puppy when I was a kid, which isn’t unusual, yet I used to imagine that I would come across an abused puppy that I would adopt.  Of course, I didn’t want any puppy to suffer, rather I was aware that there were animals out there that were abused, and in my own child mind, my imagination enabled me to end the abuse and rescue the puppy. I think I’ve always been fascinated and disturbed by the potential cruelty in people.  I couldn’t comprehend it at a young age, but I wanted to.  I never did come to understand why some people can be so cruel, however this need for explanation led me towards looking at things from a psychological perspective.  I hadn’t yet learned anything about Freud before I figured out that some behavior is the result of opposing circumstance.  In other words, I recognized that people exposed to cruelty could themselves become cruel.  I write from this standpoint, that victims can become victimizers, but they can often become survivors.  My characters are the survivors, whether or not they survive in the end, and they are never intentionally cruel.  They often think and feel very much the way I do.  I also incorporate a lot of my own experiences in my stories, whether they are based on observation or immersion.
4.  How does my writing process work?
I tend to begin with the character.  My protagonists are always male.  The personality comes first, then the physical features develop in order to solidify an image.  Along with the personality comes the nature of this person.  Then I determine a history.  Once the character is established, I begin to imagine various scenarios the person experiences, or people he can encounter.  These imaginations recur and alter and shape in my head, incorporating the history, and then the story is ready to be documented.  One thing I’ve learned through revising The Opera and especially now that I am posting Amon-Re, is that my best work comes from getting out everything, including it all, and being superfluous, then whittling it down.  I used to think it was all important and all good, but I’ve only just recently learned that it’s not.  I think it’s extremely useful, however, to put the extra stuff in at first.  It’s amazing how a few pages can be transformed into a sentence or a paragraph.  It may seem frivolous, but for me I find that it makes a story whole.  There are subtleties and curiosities and unspoken things in real life.  Not everything is explained.  Some things are only hinted at or alluded to.  I think it helps to make a story rich.  The key is to not become so attached to the extra stuff that you can’t let it go because that can sacrifice the integrity of the story.
I was invited to participate in The Writing Process Blog Tour by James Courtney and Kaisy Wilkerson-Mills at  Their blog tour post:
The tour will continue with  and who will post on May 5th.
Categories: NOTES FROM SAGE DOYLE | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

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16 thoughts on “Blog Tour 2014 – The Writing Process

  1. Reblogged this on SageDoyle.

  2. alienorajt

    This is fascinating! I love the way you have written about, and reflected upon, the writing process. I absolutely sympathise with the search for that most elusive of Holy Grails, The Genre! Two of my three novels (unpublished, as yet!) have slipped, eel-like, through the fingers of the straight-down-the-line genre; the third, which I ended up self-publishing on Amazon Kindle, is humorous (notoriously difficult to market, I gather!), but also contains sex scenes and vulgarity!
    Damn difficult, the whole thing!

    • Absolutely, I’m glad someone understands what I mean, though I’m sorry you experience the same dilemma. I think the ‘non-genre lit’ is pretty rare these days, since the reading population tends to be more specific with their interests….maybe? Or maybe it’s the publishers dictating that lol

  3. I found this to be a particularly worthy insight of yours, Mr. S. Doyle:

    “… my best work comes from getting out everything, including it all, and being superfluous, then whittling it down.”

    What’s that quote from “The Little Prince?” “Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”

    Excellent post, Sir.

    • Thank you! You know, when I wrote it, I was just describing what I do and what I’ve learned from years of writing, but now that you point out an objective viewpoint of what I said, it also reminds me of Michelangelo who said when he sculpted, he took away whatever wasn’t divinity, and whatever was left was the sculpture/divinity. Not comparing myself to Michelangelo or my work to divinity of course, but comparing his comment to your citation from “The Little Prince.” Thanks for that, because I enjoy finding the similarities to the various artforms and artistic processes. And thanks for the compliments :)

  4. With such detailed and constructive ideas for your stories, the characters and their adventures will be a fascinating experience for the reader, as those finer points are often missed when writing and are easily dismissed by the author giving the whole feel of the manuscript a rather exasperating image.

    Adding personalities and believable personas always enhance a story, it gives the reader an insight into background data, sometimes disturbing darker areas that are unfamiliar and yet attract the attention to gain knowledge of as the story unfolds. I have enjoyed reading this posting Sage, and I wish you very well for all of your future writings.


    • Thank you! I definitely enjoy character driven stories when I read or watch film, much better than plot driven pieces, so I guess it also makes sense that that’s what I write ;)

  5. So now that’s how writing is done…

    Thanks Sage i know more of whom you to be!

  6. Thanks, Sage! It’s great that you participated! Have a wonderful week! :)

  7. Pingback: Blog Tour 2014 – The Writing Process | field of thorns

  8. Pingback: Blog Tour 2014 – The Writing Process | thisoldtoad


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