Wordbuilding–Growing a Story, with Jeffe Kennedy and W*n a Book

Today, please join me in welcoming fellow author Jeffe Kennedy to Preternatura. Jeffe is here today as part of her virtual book tour celebrating her most recent release, Rogue’s Possession. Rogue’s Possession was released on October 7 by Carina Press and is the second book in her Covenant of Thorns series.
Jeffe Kennedy is an award-winning author with a writing career that spans decades. Her fantasy BDSM romance, Petals and Thorns, originally published under the pen name Jennifer Paris, has won several reader awards. Sapphire, the first book in Facets of Passion, has placed first in multiple romance contests and the followup, Platinum, is climbing the charts. Her most recent works include three fiction series: the fantasy romance novels of A Covenant of Thorns, the contemporary BDSM novellas of the Facets of Passion, and the post-apocalyptic vampire erotica of the Blood Currency. Jeffe lives in Santa Fe, with two Maine coon cats, a border collie, plentiful free-range lizards and a Doctor of Oriental Medicine. You can learn more about her by visiting her website, on Facebook, by following her on twitter or by checking out her blog. 
ABOUT ROGUE’S POSSESSION:  A human trapped in the world of Faerie, in possession of magic I could not control, I made a bargain for my life: to let the dangerously sensual fae noble known as Rogue sire my firstborn. And one does not break an oath with a fae. But no matter how greatly I desire him, I will not succumb. Not until I know what will happen to the child.  Though unable—or unwilling—to reveal the fate of human-fae offspring himself, Rogue accompanies me on my quest for answers. Along the way he agrees to teach me to harness my power, in exchange for a single kiss each day and sleeping by my side each night. Just as I am about to yield to temptation, I find myself in a deadly game of cat and mouse with an insane goddess. Now my search for the truth will lead me to the darkest of all Faerie secrets.
And now, let’s hear from Jeffe…

Worldbuilding as a Gardener

There are architects and gardeners. The architects do blueprints before they drive the first nail, they design the entire house, where the pipes are running, and how many rooms there are going to be. But the gardeners just dig a hole and plant the seed and see what comes up. I think all writers are partly architects and partly gardeners, but they tend to one side or another, and I am definitely more of a gardener. ~George R.R. Martin

I saw this quote from George R.R. Martin on Tumblr and reblogged it there because I love it so much (check it out here). Fair warning—if you go look at my Tumblr, beware of going off that specific page, because I have a ton of very sexy stuff on there, too. Don’t say I didn’t forewarn you!

In the romance-writing world, people talk about whether they are “plotters” or “pantsers” – as in, whether they plot out their stories ahead of time or fly by the seat of their pants. I like Martin’s analogy far better. In fact, I like it better than my usual way of explaining my process, “misting,” meaning that I travel into the mist and describe things as I encounter them.

One thing I like about Martin’s take is his simple acknowledgement that most of us are on a spectrum. We all use the various approaches to a greater or lesser extent, but we tend to feel most at home with one or the other. Or perform best that way. I also like the sense he has that the gardener is active—planting the seed and cultivating what grows—and that much of the story develops on its own, which is exactly how it feels to me.

I suppose I’m enough of an architect in that I prepare my flower beds. I know where I want them to be. I’ll dig them out of lawn or weeds and make a nice border. It might be as simple as knowing I want a circle of flowers around the bird bath or as intricate as a multi-tiered herb garden with a brick border.

But all of that is groundwork. How many words I’m thinking about, the general idea of the characters and their journey. Just an empty flower bed.

Then I plant the seeds. More often than not—my very favorite way to work—I do the equivalent of dipping my hand into the feed sack of mixed wildflower seeds and casting them on the soil. Depending on what I’ve promised my editors, I might plan a bit more than that. Planning a series is equivalent to making sure the garden blooms in spring, summer and fall—with a variety of blossoms following one after the next.

But what’s always true is, my worlds grow according to their own internal designs. I usually don’t know what they are until they burst into bloom. Then I know more. The color, the texture, the volunteer blossoms that bring exquisite surprises. And by that point, I don’t have much more of a role than eagle-eye weeding, judicious pruning and water as needed. The garden is itself.

I just coax it along.
Thanks, Jeffe! 

Leave a comment to be entered for your chance to win a copy of Rogue’s Possession, or if you prefer, the first book this series, Rogue’s Pawn.

38 thoughts on “Wordbuilding–Growing a Story, with Jeffe Kennedy and W*n a Book

  1. What a lovely analogy! That makes perfect sense! The book is so pretty and I love the premise! definitely going to have to check this out 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  2. I have always wondered about the world building I come across in the stories I favor. Am just grateful for the creativity that I have come across.

  3. That’s a great analogy. Much better than the plotter vs. pantser one. Writing just seems so mysterious to me – that an author can start a story without any idea of where it will ultimately end up is like magic.

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