Tuesday, March 24, 2015

How to Wing It – as told by Jennifer Wardell, author of ‘Beast Charming’

     Jennifer Wardell is a master at adapting fairy tale classics with ‘modern wit and dry humor’.  Her first novel, Fairy Godmothers, Inc., published in 2013, was a blast. Her second  book, Beast Charming, released March 17 of this year, has the makings of being equally funny and intriguing. 

Beauty Tremain had spent her life being thrown into the path of ogres and noblemen by her title-hungry father, Noble Tremain (whose name is really Frank.) Escaping the bonds of her sadistic matchmaker father to work for a dragon-owned temp agency, Beauty hesitantly takes a mysterious job working for a butler in an enormous mansion. When the mansion’s owner, James Hightower, proves to be a seven-foot-tall brooding beast with the bad habit of hurling statuary from the rooftop, it’s up to Beauty to roll up her sleeves and argue her way to a paycheck.
When Beauty and James start having feelings for each other, however, they determine their relationship is the least of their concerns. Beauty’s father re-enters the scene armed with lawsuits and threats. To add to the chaos, James’s mischievous ex-fiancee shows up to reclaim him.
Beauty and the beast need to somehow control their tempers long enough to return the favors with schemes of their own.

A modern spin on a classic tale, Wardell weaves a story that will enchant and delight the reader through wit and romance.

     When I visit schools, one of the most popular questions kids ask me is about my writing technique and whether I first outline the plot for my books. I tell them that I much prefer ‘free writing’ since this is how I initially get the feel and ‘soul’ of the story.

     Jennifer Wardell calls this approach ‘Winging it’, a term which I absolutely love. I’ll let her explain it.

     Oh, and there’s also a giveaway, so don’t forget to enter below.

Winging it (without falling off a cliff)
by Jennifer Wardell

Writing is like life. Some people go at it with a solid plan, making a careful list of what they need to do and when they need to do it so the future goes in exactly the direction they want it to. Others wing it, charging ahead and seeing what happens (and hoping they don't accidentally fall off a cliff while they're not looking).

Most people, I think, manage with some combination of the two. I lean more towards the "wing it" category, since every plan I've ever made always turned out way less interesting than the story that ended up actually happening. I'll picture certain conversations and scenes in my head, but when I get there the words never quite flow the way I thought they would. Mostly, I'm delighted – I get to see wonders that are so much more than I could have come up with on my own, and there's nothing more fun than being surprised by a story. Especially if it's yours.

Winging it also gives me the chance to get to know the characters in a way I don't think a rigid outline would. I have to talk to them this way, find out what they want to do and say, and sometimes what they want is the absolute last thing I expected. If I just ordered them around to fit my outline, how  would I ever learn any of this?

Of course, there are definite limitations to winging it. You can hope the characters do something interesting, but if you've written them realistically they will have plenty of dull, awkward moments. You know what they're like – you've run out of things to say, have no idea how to make a graceful exit, and you're both just standing there secretly thinking about shooting themselves just to end the suffering.

Writing that can occasionally be fun – we all love embarrassment, as long as it's not ours – but it's not the character's job to make sure something interesting happens. It's our job, the designated hostess of the strange little party we've created, but instead of putting on music or setting out new dip we have to occasionally blow something up.

We also have to know where all of this is going, because the characters usually have no clue (and would sometimes run screaming in the opposite direction if they did). I do usually end up with a very loose outline, written as kind of a "goal that needs to be accomplished" list that I usually write up for the next two or three chapters ahead. "The characters must do X before I wrap up this particular scene, because otherwise I'll be in serious trouble when I get to the last third of the book (and/or they'll all run off to Rio without me.")

Of course, the characters will sometimes argue with me about the goals, too. Even when you're the one supposedly deciding what happens, writing (and life) never works out as smoothly as we want it to.  

JENNIFFER WARDELL has won several awards from the Utah Press Association and the Utah Headliners Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Her first novel, Fairy Godmothers, Inc., debuted in April 2013, marking the beginning of her brand of wit, fantasy, and romance. She currently lives in Salt Lake City, Utah

            You can find out more about Jennifer and her books from the links below:

 Email:  jennifferwardell@gmail.com

            And now I hope you'll enter for a chance to win an autographed copy of Beast Charming.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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