I met S. M. Pace on Scribophile, which is a great website for exchanging critiques and feedback on writing. Beyond writing fantasy, we have a lot in common — she’s also a teacher, and uses her blog to explore different aspects of writing, and especially world-building and characterization. I had the pleasure of asking her a couple of questions for my first monthly interview feature.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing as far as content goes?
Action scenes. I struggle a lot with making them compelling, active and believable, as well as coherent. My efforts tend to be confusing, or dull, which drives me crazy. I especially have a hard time keeping the sentences varied. In draft form, I default to a lot of “he did this,” “then she did that,” “suddenly he did this.” Then I struggle to make those sentences more unique and interesting in revision.
I feel you on that. Drafting is rough. It’s hard to focus on all the things you have to do to get a scene right. The important thing is just getting words down on paper, even if you know you’re going to have to fix them later. It’s not all frustrating, though — is there anything you really enjoy or find especially easy writing?
I love writing quiet scenes between characters. Sometimes, when inspiration hits me just right, everything flows and I can develop a great banter back and forth between the characters. Romantic scenes are my favorite, though they tend to be on a low simmer in my novels. The majority of my characters have too much going to be dealing with romance, so it usually ends up hitting them in face out of nowhere that they’ve developed feelings for another character, rather than pursuing that character outright.
It’s great to hear that your characters have a lot going on in their lives — makes for a more interesting book. How long does it take you to write a book?
It depends on a lot, including length of the book and how much time I’m able to dedicate to it. Wings of the Butterfly took me about two weeks to write the first draft, and then several months to complete the revision. Shadow of the Wolf, the novel that preceded that one, took two years from start to finish.
Drafting is often harder for me, so I try to blow through it as quickly as possible, often finishing a novel in less than a month. Once done, my revision method takes anywhere from 10 to 18 weeks, again, depending on the length of the story and how much time I can dedicate to it.
Wow! That’s really impressive. I can’t barely hit NaNoWriMo goals — 50,000 words in a month — much less triple that rate! Though I guess if I took the summers off like most teachers, I’d have better luck. Maybe next year I’ll have some time to relax. How do you wind down?
I watch a lot of comedy videos, I do craft projects, and of course, I read. Cracked.com is my favorite for funny videos, although I do frequent several youtube channels. Craft projects run to a lot of sewing and painting. I’m practicing drawing in the hopes of making some original artwork for my website. Lately I’ve been reading a lot of paranormal and fantasy romance.
Soon, I plan to go back to tackling my TBR list on Goodreads. Wish me luck!
Good luck, S. M. — finding time to read can be tough, especially when you know you’ve got to write. But balance is important: something we can all stand to remember. Speaking of memorable lines, do you have a favorite quote?
“This is not a book to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force,” Dorothy Parker. I love Parker’s sardonic humor, and I’ve certainly felt that way about many books I’ve read. So I can appreciate her sentiment.
About S. M. Pace
S. M. Pace lives in the wilds of Central Virginia, with her husband (bear), son (bunny) and a
pond full of fish (sometimes). When she’s not writing, she loves crafts, sewing and hiking. Take a moment and follow her on twitter, or check out book two of her Threads of Magic series: