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September 26, 2012

Writer Wednesday with Dorota Skrzypek

From Concept to Creation with Sex, Life, & Hannah 

Sex, Life, & Hannah started out as a manuscript I wrote in 2004. I’ve been a journal writer my entire life; wrote in my first diary at age six, so there is a lot of content that has stacked up over the years. Well, back in 2004 I decided to do something with it.

But where to start? A memoir didn’t feel right, and I’d never set out to write non-fiction, so instead I tried to think of a pivotal moment in my life that could be the beginning of a fun fictional tale… I decided it was the day my boyfriend of many years, who I thought I was going to marry, broke up with me. On New Year’s Eve. It was a turbulent relationship to say the least, so the break-up was not unexpected, but everything that happened after it was.

Even though I didn’t want to write a memoir, the first draft of the manuscript read very personal. I literally took almost all the words right out of my journal entries and made them into chapters. We write best what we know, but I still wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it all.

I eventually got an editor, tore the manuscript apart with her (yes, there were pages all over the floor when we were done), and settled on a nine-chapter novella. In 2007 Sex, Life, & Hannah was born.

I get a lot of people asking me about the process of going from concept to creation. How do you organize all those ideas in your head? Or even know where to begin?

Three books into the Sex, Life, & Hannah series, and about to start work on the fourth (and last) I can honestly say the most beneficial tool for me is the one-page outline. With chapter numbers on one side and characters at the top I think of two to three main story points for each chapter. Knowing, at least loosely, how I’m going to get from Point A to Point Z gives my brain the parameters it needs to start the writing process.

The outline is supposed to be a living document, and mostly a tool to get your creative juices flowing in an organized manner, so don’t beat yourself up for not knowing exactly how each chapter is going to turn out. I’m still stuck on the last chapter and how I’m going to finish this series.

Though I believe the ending is never as important as the journey.

Dorota Skrzypek was born in Poland, grew-up in Canada, and moved to Southern California in 1997. After many years of flying airplanes, designing airports, and exploring the world, she decided to focus on writing fiction. Sex, Life, & Hannah is Dorota's juicy woman-on-top book series chronicling the exploits of Hannah, a female professional trying desperately to make sense of the L.A. single life. Through broken hearts, broken dreams, and nearly-broken bed frames, Hannah grapples with the modern late-twenty-something's conundrum: Does the fairytale life exist, and is it worth having?
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