Last week, Figmenters posed questions to Lisi Harrison, author of the bestselling Clique series (the final installment of which you can read on Figment, here). Lisi very kindly took time to answer them! Here’s what she said.
How do you organize your work? Do you do a chapter by chapter outline or do you just go with it and hope for the best? (That’s what I do…haha:) (Charlotte Rose)
Charlotte, your brain and mine are wayyy different. I could never pull that off. I spend about two weeks figuring out my story on index cards, napkins, and notebooks. Once I have it down I write an INSANE outline. Chapter by chapter, it details every event, outfit, and moment of the book. This part of the process is where most of my work is done. It’s always easier to change up a plot when it’s in bullet form rather than book form. My outlines are at least forty pages (told you they were insane). I see them as the blueprints for a house. Writing is the decorating.
Do you ever find yourself rushing through a story? Do you ever have trouble coming up with the “little details”? (Heather Fails)
My monster outlines keep me from rushing and getting lazy with details. This is key because details bring the story to life. They are like fabulous accessories — they leave a lasting impression. Remember Angelina Jolie’s green earrings at the Oscars a few years ago? Thought you might.
What is your favorite way of showing characterization? For example, do you prefer to show characterization through dialogue, actions, descriptions, etc.? (Annie)
All of the above. Think of your friends. They are all different and special and annoying and fabulous not because of one trait, but because of a combination of different ones. Personal style, nervous habits, facial expressions, catch phrases, mannerisms, skills, hobbies, pet peeves…I could go on. The more of these you give to a character the more real they become.
What motivates you to write about school cliques? It seems that cliques are bad in most schools, but you make them interesting and human. How do you do it? (Massie is awesome, by the way.) (Celeste Selene)
I know how painful being bullied can be and I wanted to show (using Massie and friends) that the so-called “perfect girls” are just as messed up as the rest of us. Sometimes even more.
What was your major in college? (Ashley)
Creative Writing and Doritos. 🙂
How fast paced should a story be? Should it be faster in action scenes and then slow down during the normal parts, or should it be the same pace throughout the story? (Savannah Ettinger)
It’s hard to give a blanket answer to that because each story has its own pace. In general though I try to always keep things moving and entertaining. But I always slow things down a bit to check in emotionally. It’s important to let the reader know how the action is affecting the characters and how they are processing it.
How do you do humor in books? Every time I attempt humor it sounds lame and childish. (Rose Granger)
Maybe humor is not your thing. If not don’t force it. I see the world and process my emotions with humor, so it comes naturally to me. Others are more serious and that’s great too. Each writer has his/her own voice. The worst thing you could do is try to take on someone else’s voice. Want to find yours? Start by writing your observations and feelings down in a journal. Don’t try to make it good, just write. This will help you “hear” your true voice. Listen to it and let it guide you.
When is the best time to introduce a secondary character, if not the beginning? (Savannah Ettinger)
If this character is going to affect the story in any way, make them known pretty (early). If not, it will seem like they came out of nowhere and the reader won’t have a chance to feel the full weight of their impact or their relationship to the main character and the plot.
How do you avoid procrastination? 😛 (Bethany)
The truth? I have signed contracts with deadlines in them. If I don’t hand in my books on time I’ll be in big trouble. And still I procrastinate. The best way to avoid it is to set daily goals for yourself. Don’t stop until you reach them.
Was Massie created for readers to worship her, or did you want readers to hate her? (Magggie H)
You never want readers to hate your main character. It’s like asking you to be best friends with someone you can’t stand. I want you to like her so you’ll care about her and keep reading. But that doesn’t mean she can’t have flaws. As long as you understand why she has them and you are sympathetic to her, you will root for her, even if you don’t always agree with her decisions.
How many times do you revise one of your books before you decide it’s done? (Janus Roi)
It’s never done. It can always be better. For me, it’s done when my editor calls and tells me to email it ASAP. 🙂
Thank you all for these ah-mazing questions.