Taming Dragons with Jacqueline Patterson


This week, I'm excited for you to meet Jacqueline Patterson! She is a lot of fun to follow on Twitter and it's been an absolute joy getting to know her and be inspired by her AfterWords answers. She's awesome, and I hope you're as inspired as me!

I am a dragon tamer, eccentric creative, and ruthless destroyer of fictional worlds. In other words, I'm just your average writer. :) My primary genres are dystopian and alternative historical fiction.

I have to ask, how many dragons have you tamed?

I wish I could say that I've tamed real dragons. 😉 But my metaphorical dragons are my edits. All in all, I think I've tamed 20 dragons. I won't tell you how many times I've been burned. ;)

What inspires you and/or why do you write?

I've been writing for as long as I can remember. I can't not write. Believe me, I've tried. When I was a teenager, I decided I should pursue music (my other love) and let my writing become secondary. That didn't last a week. Words burn in my mind and the only way to find relief is to release them.

Describe your process as best you can:

I am a discovery writer, so every day begins with the challenge: What happens next? I sit down for at least fifteen minutes of writing time before facing the day. This way, the story is fresh on my mind, and my subconscious can work out the kinks while I'm away from my computer. While on errands or at work, I use Speechnotes to dictate scenes. By the time I'm home and have time to write, I'm invested in the story and eager to finish.

I love that your characters seem to have a mind of their own. Tell me more about that!

Oh, they can be brats sometimes. *laughs* They awaken me in the night to torment me with new ideas and hint of secrets they refuse to share until the book's ending. I see them in my mind like I've physically met them, and they each have a distinctive voice. Crazy as it sounds, I know instantly which character is speaking to me...or when a new character has just entered my head.

What is your favorite tool or resource? (Like Scrivener, Grammarly, a blog, etc?)

Story Trumps Structure by Steven James is a book that changed my career. I consult it constantly. Scrivener is also a career-saver. I'm not certain how I survived without it.

Biggest challenge for you, and how have you overcome it? (Or how are you working to overcome it!)

My biggest challenge comes from doubting myself. There's a continual doubt-parade marching through my mind while writing: Are you sure this scene will really work? What if this is the scene an agent hates? My writing mentor, Aaron Gansky, has helped me immeasurably in finding confidence in my writing voice. Now I listen to my characters instead of my doubt.

What advice can you give other authors about finding a writing mentor or writing partner?

First of all, be careful. Someone may have the best intentions, but if they're not a good match, they may cripple your writing style or voice. Does this author/editor/critique partner write in the same genre? Do they understand your unique voice? Or do they try to mold you to fit their expectations? Don't be afraid to ask questions.

Talk to writing friends. Reach out to other authors. Go to writer's conferences.

I met my writing mentor at a writer's conference, and we had an instant connection. He's the first one I contact when I hit a writing block because I trust his feedback. :)

What do you consider your biggest strength?

(Don’t be shy!) Writing emotional scenes. I feel my characters' pain like it is my own, and the deeper I am into the story, the more raw the pain becomes. As a result, the story has a unique rhythm and voice.

Any other advice for authors, based on your unique experience?

Don't judge your abilities by another's experience. Everyone's journey to publication is different. Don't despair when other writers seem to get all the contracts or all the awards. Keep writing. Your day will come.

Where can other authors or readers connect with you?

I love connecting! I'm most active on Twitter (my preciousss), and I'm also on Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook, and my blog, japatterson.com.

Where can your work be found?

My full-length novels are being sent out for representation, so they are not yet available, but I will be releasing a story on Wattpad soon. Stay tuned!

Jacqueline really is a delight to follow on Twitter! Her advice is radiantly inspiring, and I love seeing her stories come alive as she recounts the battles she faces while wrestling her characters. You'll definitely want to keep up with her, and we're all anxiously waiting to see her published works!

Bonus! If you've been thinking about Scrivener and want to be awesome like Jacqueline, the fine folks at Literature and Latte have given me permission to offer a 20% coupon code whenever an AfterWord mentions Scrivener! So visit www.getscrivener.com and use the coupon code AFTERWORDS to get this great deal!