I’ve been making up stories for as long as I can remember. When I was really little, too young to even read, I would entertain myself during church by opening up the hymnal and “reading” myself stories about mermaids, princesses, and anything else I could dream up that day. Once I figured out how to read and write, all bets were off. I used to write letters to and from characters that I’d made up. In middle school, I had a diary that I carried around that was entirely in the voice of someone completely fictional. Writing was everything I ever wanted to do. I had a lot of half-finished projects, though, and I really wanted to make sure that I had a complete work that I could be proud to call mine. I always told myself that I wanted to have a fully finished draft by the time I turned 30. I’m 29 now, and June is creeping up on me. My current draft is somewhere around half finished. I have every intention of meeting my goal.
The best advice anyone has ever given me about writing came from a friend of mine named Tiffany who teaches high school English and is working on a couple drafts of her own. She’s always encouraged me to just keep writing. There are days when every word that comes out of you will feel like the wrong one. There are going to be whole weeks where you just aren’t motivated at all to continue your plot line. It will feel like work sometimes. You may even resent your characters as if it’s somehow their fault you can’t find your motivation. But if you can push through and keep writing, you’ll be better for it. We all get burnt out, and we all need a break sometimes. I’m not saying never cut yourself any slack, but the only way to get the story in your head onto the page is to keep going.
There are times when I will surprise myself in where a particular plot point will manifest. Someone once told me I was more of a gardener than an architect. I roughly sketch out what I want my overarching plot to be, but when I write, I try to let things happen organically. There’s some nudging here and there to keep things on course, but I keep things open. This may come from my background in Dungeons & Dragons where the story twists and turns at the whim of the dice. One of my favorite things about writing is that I find myself surprised by a thousand little things that my characters say and do.
Reading as much as possible. When I was a kid, I was rarely seen without a book in hand. As an adult, there isn’t quite as much time for reading, but I fit it in where I can- whether that be on break at work, or a few stolen minutes during a hectic weekend. I read new books when I find things that catch my interest, but I’m mostly a serial re-reader. I find that as I’ve grown older, I can go back to some of my favorite books, the ones I know by heart, and read them just for the purpose of combing the words for new lessons in how to improve my own craft. Most authors have one or two things that they’re just amazing at. It can be dialogue, scene description, plot flow, anything. To be able to take lessons from each of them, all at once- and from the comfort of my own home- is fantastic. The fact that I get to enjoy myself immensely at the same time is just an added bonus.
Storm Song is a fantasy novel that takes place in a world of magic, mythical creatures, and the chance for adventure at every turn. The land of Elysia and the character Thoster Chatwyn both came from the very first Dungeons & Dragons campaign I ran in college. That campaign took place several years in Storm Song’s future, but I always wanted to tell Thoster’s origin story. He’s a simple fellow that’s placed into an increasingly complicated situation. I’ve always been drawn to the charismatic characters. I like people that can talk themselves into and out of trouble without ever raising a weapon. The choices he makes that shape his future are outlined in Storm Song, which will hopefully lead to the opportunity to tell more stories about Elysia and far beyond its borders.
For those interested in knowing more about Allison’s current work in progress, please click on the cover of her book. Please also note that Allison is currently competing in the Geek and Sundry Fantasy Competition through Inkshares, so if you’re interested in helping her out, please head on over to her Inkshares page. For those who’d like to get in touch with Allison or follow along with her, here are some social media links:
Twitter: @grinerwrites and @stormsongnovel