Life is hectic around a new release, but Ryan was gracious enough to take time from his busy schedule and answer a few questions about writing. I hope you find his answers as honest and helpful as I did.
Are you a panster or a plotter? How do you approach a new idea?
I’m both, actually. When I have an idea, I try to flesh it out and see if I can come up with enough ideas to make it a novel. Once that happens, I’ll map out conflicts, a few ideas for scenes, but most importantly, where the story will end. I like the organic feel of pantsing, but without a clear destination, I feel a writer just ends up ambling along like a tumbleweed, with no idea where to go.
Do you have the same critique partners for all your work or do you have different sets? And why?
I have the same critique partners. I’m always on the lookout for other partners, but at the moment I have a couple of CP’s and a professional editor I hire to help clean up my MS.
What is the most difficult aspect about being a writer?
There’s so many to choose from! Probably making yourself finish that first draft. It’s so hard not to give up 1/3 of the way in when you’re stuck, you feel like you’re a terrible writer, and you just wasted a few weeks of your life on something that isn’t good. Pushing through the insecurity is so difficult, and that even counts for when you’re shopping your MS around. As satisfying as writing is, it will knock you down every step of the way, and then some. You have to get up and keep moving forward. All of this to say that the most difficult aspect about being a writer is, to quote Jim Valvano, “Never give up. Don’t ever give up!”
What are your top three nuggets of wisdom you would like to share with unpublished writers?
Hmm. Obviously, just keep writing, Matthew McConaughey style. Learn how to take criticism. And learn the business of books. You can’t just write a book and expect to get a big payday. Not gonna happen.
What is your favorite part of the writing process?
All of it, even the difficult parts. It’s way better than a 8-5 job.
Do you have any suggestions for editing drafts?
Finishing that first draft is the hardest part of writing. Editing takes longer, but the hard part is done! You’ve got a book in hand, you’re just making it better. Especially if you’re new to writing, hire a professional editor to polish your MS. You’ll not only get a rude awakening to how little you actually know about editing, but that will teach you a ton. Doing this will also teach you to cope with criticism, otherwise you’ll end up lying on the floor in the fetal position crying. In the end, after you’ve made the 2,000 or so changes the editor wants, read what you’ve done. You’ll realize that all edits, even the harshest ones, only help.
What do you think is the most important element a story should have?
The obvious answer is a story, LOLZER. No, a story needs conflict. Momentum. Direction. Once you know how to tell a story, the rest just falls into place.
Do you have other stories in the works?
I do! My zombie opus, DEAD NEW WORLD, is coming Oct. 13 from Curiosity Quills. After that, I’m putting the final touches on a MS called THE CONCH SHELL OF DOOM, which is every bit as silly as it sounds. A sequel to THE BOOK OF BART is also upcoming.
I wrote a blog about self-doubt being a new demon I encountered. Do you have any writing demons?
Oh, gosh. Self doubt is a biggie.
Insecurity, fear of failure, worrying that my story stinks, that nobody will like it, that I’m not doing enough outside of writing to help promote my work, that I’ll never finish this manuscript, this was all a big mistake…yeah. Self-doubt.
If someone wrote a book about your life, who would star as you?
Joel McHale. He’s my celebrity doppleganger.
Here’s the synopsis:
Working for the man upstairs stinks, but working with Samantha, an angel in training? Offensive!
Only one thing is so powerful, so dangerous that Heaven and Hell must work together to find it: the Shard of Gabriel.
With a mysterious Black Cloud of Death hot on the shard’s trail, a desperate Heaven enlists the help of Bartholomew, a demon who knows more about the shard than almost anyone. Six years ago, he had it in his hands. If only he’d used it before his coup to overthrow the Devil failed. Now, he’s been sprung from his eternal punishment to help Samantha, an angel in training, recover the shard before the Black Cloud of Death finds it.
If Bart wants to succeed, he’ll have to fight the temptation to betray Samantha and the allure of the shard. After an existence full of evil, the only way Bart can get right with Hell is to be good.
The Book of Bart is racking up some great reviews. (I grabbed a copy on release day.)
You can get your copy here: