Steve Rzasa is an award-winning author of speculative fiction novels, including The Word Endangered, The Word Reclaimed, and Broken Sight. Steve has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has received his Library Support Staff Certification from the American Library Association—one of only 100 graduates nationwide. He lives in Buffalo, Wyoming, with his wife and two boys. Steve’s a fan of all things science-fiction and superhero, and is also a student of history. Visit Steve at: www.steverzasa.com
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A little background. I’m not much of a plotter. When it comes to writing, I’m definitely a pantser. You’ll get brief outlines from me, probably quick one sentence fragments of what’s coming next over several chapters, but rarely do I engage in a full-on synopsis for a story before it’s written. Framework? Yes, I prefer to have one of them. The rest I fill with imagination.
There’s been a few times where my co-workers have had to do the old wave-your-hands-in-front-of-Steve’s-face-to-get-his-attention move. They’re no longer surprised by it. They know my brain can be filled with work items at one moment, only to have them all shoved aside as my brain contemplates how to get the hero of my latest work from Point A to Point B. Lately, that involves a car chase.
What keeps these daydreams going? What fuels my imagination? Books. Movies. Graphic novels. But also, music. My wife recently commented it seems strange that I never walk anywhere in town—usually to and from work—without listening to music. Those five or 10 minutes are times of solitude, of distraction from the everyday goings on of life, in which my mind wanders far afield. Far enough to leave this Earth and wind up on, say, an alternate version of our world in which aliens arrived 15 years ago, or a warped planet filled with steam-powered vehicles and Ice Age mammals, or a space station on the frontiers of the galaxy.
I know people who need silence to work. Me? I create best with the aid of a soundtrack. Rock music for action and chases, quiet orchestral scores for epic journeys and character introspection. Slow tempo helps me think. Bold, fast beat helps me produce.
Now, this doesn’t lend itself to planning. Rushing through an action scene is great. Taking the time to formulate the plot, to discover and shape the main character’s motivations, are far more in-depth processes. They require time and effort.
That doesn’t mean we’re talking about the creative equivalent of cracking open the Algebra textbook and poring through math problems. The best ideas occur when they’re least expected. For example, I’ve come up with some great plot twists while in the shower. Unfortunately, they appeared about 30 seconds in. Which leaves me two options: one, to get out and write them down, hands dripping wet and feet slick enough that I’d probably slip and crack my skull (which, by the way, is not conducive to good writing); or two, spin them around in my brain until I can get them onto paper.
What I’m trying to say is, daydreaming and planning go hand in hand. Creating a story that entertains, that keeps the reader immersed in another world, that keeps them in the passenger seat of the adventure, means never losing sight of these aspects. You do have to outline. You do have to plot. Most importantly, you do have to dream.
Let your brain wander. Go for a walk. Turn up the music. Ignore everything else, until those ideas and images and words stream together. They’ll need shaping to become the novel you’ve been tasked to write. Then, for heaven’s sake, write it all down.
About Steve's Book, The Word Endangered:
It’s been ten years since the Realm of Five staved off overthrow by its secret police, Kesek, and instituted religious freedom for all people. Texts can be freely printed and distributed. Fear of being discovered and imprisoned by Kesek has been replaced by elation at the ability to openly believe.
But with that freedom comes conflict. Sects argue. Religions fight. Governments crack down. People want new places where they can live in peace. More than ever, settlers strike out for the quiet corners of space.
Zarco Thread and his wife, Ria, head up a surveying crew on the Starkweather frontier. Their job: to give a close-up report on worlds with great potential for colonization. That’s what their exploration of Walpole was supposed to be.
What they discover there, however, leads them into a conspiracy to undo the last ten years and to usher in a new era of strife.
With a hero of the battles against Kesek and the Martians leading them in search of answers to a mystery, and with the Crown Marshals in hot pursuit, Zarco and Ria must choose the right course while keeping their nascent family alive. They’ll need all the help they can get, and they’ll find it in the form of new allies who have already saved the galaxy once.
There are forces at work that have fed off the remnants of Kesek, suborning them to their cause, forces that have committed atrocities against the people of the Realm.
And they are more than mere human.
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Ronie Kendig is an award-winning, bestselling author who grew up an Army brat. After twenty-five years of marriage, she and her hunky hero husband have a full life with their children, a Maltese Menace, and a retired military working dog in Northern Virginia. Find Ronie online:
Reviewers call Ronie's newest release, EMBERS, "Simply amazing!"