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  • Writer's pictureKristina Elyse Butke

Writer Ask Meme

A old-fashioned fountain pen writes in cursive along lined notebook paper. WRITER ASK MEME
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

This post comes from author Sofia Graves from her tumblr and consists of 20 questions, all about writing! I can never get enough of these, and if you're a long time reader, you'll see I've done some of these before. I hope you enjoy reading!

✧・゚: *✧・゚:*✧・゚: *✧・゚:*

1. Describe the plot of your current WIPs in a single sentence each.

  • The Name and the Key - a girl is haunted by her dead mother's reflection and her best friend may be the only one to help her break the curse

  • The Step and the Walk - a boy makes a deal with a demon to learn the secrets to ending death

2. Do you have anything published? If so, where?

I haven't written much poetry or any short stories because I can't multitask while writing novels. Most of my time has been spent working on Son of the Siren and The Name and the Key so I haven't dipped in to other writing.

3. Do you own any books on writing? If so, which is your favorite?

I own tons of writing books, about the craft, about being an author, about the business of writing, about publishing, and more. My favorites are Book Life by Jeff Vandermeer and also his speculative fiction book Wonder Book.

4. What are some of your favorite tropes?

I like Only One Bed and Friends to Lovers.

5. Which OC deserved better?

Although things eventually work out for Lirien in Son of the Siren, his treatment at the hands of Queen Aurinda is pretty awful, and he deserved better from her.

6. Which OC did you forget about?

I don't really forget about my OCs (original characters). But there is one I created for The Name and the Key that got cut because I had no idea where to go with his character -- he was meant to be a romantic interest for Lainey.

7. What was the first novel you ever tried to write? If you've never tried to write a novel, then what was the first story you ever wrote?

The Name and the Key, in its graduate thesis form, was the first novel I ever tried to write. I completed it by the skin of my teeth.

8. Which OC is your favorite?

It's a tie between Lirien from Son of the Siren and Andresh from The Name and the Key. Maybe Andresh squeaks ahead by a tiny margin.

9. Which OC is an absolute pain to write?

Queen Aurinda from Son of the Siren. She is the antagonist and her actions are deplorable and she caused me so much grief during the writing process. I'm still not confident about her.

10. If you had to write a novel about one of the side characters in your current WIP, which character would you choose?

I'd write a side novel for Lainey from The Name and the Key.

11. Share the last paragraph you wrote.

I'm not going to do this because I feel uncomfortable sharing WIPs knowing that ChatGPT and other generative AIs scrape the internet for text. Plus, I'm worried about my stuff getting stolen. You won't see excerpts from me until I have a publishing deal and the book is close to coming out.

12. Share a dumb line from an old WIP.

I'm not worried about sharing this one because it's from the 90s when I was in high school and it's fanfiction. When Harry Potter first came out I wrote my first fanfic and it was a comedy. The stupid line is said by Ron or Harry and it's "J.K. Rowling isn't real!" I have no context to give you for this because I don't remember.

Given J.K. Rowling's monstrous behavior, I've never written fanfiction for HP or have read the books ever again--in fact, I got rid of them all.

13. Do you prefer writing with small casts or large ones?

I prefer small casts, although Son of the Siren had a pretty large one!

14. How long does it take you to write 500 words on a good day? On a bad one?

On bad days I don't write 500 words; more like 200. On good days it takes me maybe an hour to write 500. I'm a slow writer.

15. How do you name settings/characters?

I first start with how names sound -- their syllables and letters together -- or I head to and choose a name by meaning. The way names sound, though, is more important to me.

16. What's the most ridiculous thing you've ever done in the name of outlining/worldbuilding (timelines, research, maps, spreadsheets, etc.)?

I looked up historical lighting and candles, the rate at which bodies decompose in water, the type of food eaten in Tudor England, and historical underwear. I don't find this ridiculous at all...I just check out a variety of things while I research. I've also made maps (poorly) and once created a timeline for The Name and the Key using Timeglider (now defunct).

17. How far along are you in your current WIP? How long have you been working on it?

I'm 22,753 words into the book as I write this (hopefully by the time this post is published I will have written more) and I've been working on the book for years. I took a long break to write Son of the Siren and have gone back and forth between quitting the book and rewriting it. I think I started rewriting this draft May 2023 according to my file history.

18. How many titles has your current WIP gone through? Which one of your WIPs has had the most titles?

The Name and the Key was originally called Lily Beauty, Lily Rose back when it was supposed to be based off of a fairy tale. The book morphed into something completely different as I was writing it, and that warranted a different title. As I draft it now, I can't see it being named anything else other than The Name and the Key, although if it gets published, it might need a title change. I hope not. Out of all of my books, The Name and the Key has had the most title changes....I tend not to change titles of my books and settle on something right away.

19. What does your editing/revising process look like?

My editing is highly dependent upon feedback. I'll complete a draft, send it to beta readers, then edit it based off of their criticism, rewrite it once more, then send it to beta readers again. That's what I did for Son of the Siren. It's since gotten feedback from my agent and I edited the book two more times based on his comments before it got sent out on sub.

20. What's the most time you've ever spent on one WIP?

The Name and the Key was started as my thesis in 2010, finished in 2013, then started up again maybe a year later. It's been on and off, but I'd say overall, including off periods, I've been working on it for about ten years, soon to be more.

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