Brigitte Bautista—"You, Me, U.S."

#010 – Story Design with Brigitte Bautista

Season One
Season One
#010 – Story Design with Brigitte Bautista

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A: Do you write your stories long hand?
BB: The drafts I write with a pen.
A: Ah.
BB: And when I’m ready to, like, commit them to do this master document is when I type.
A: Okay  so do you write the whole thing out first by hand and then encode it, or, like, per chapter like you write a chapter…
BB: Scene. Per scene. When I have a scene in mind I write it down first longhand and then I type it. Then when I type it that’s like the final-ish version.
A: Final first draft.
BB: Yeah. So I weed out all the garbage of the scene I wrote.
A: That’s so interesting. You basically do write your first drafts, your very first drafts long hand. Because that’s how your mind works. 
BB: Uh huh.
A: Your mind, I dunno, conjures up the story better. 

BB: But I don’t finish the whole story long hand. Parang … this scene, okay I wrote it long hand and then I’m going to transfer it … once I’m ready I’m going to transfer it to the Word document. And then I switch.
A: Okay. All right. But when you edit. When you do the edits after you finish the book, that’s just on your computer.
BB: Yeah.

A: I don’t know… some people … I know some authors. They do write their drafts long hand. And I think of doing that, but I’m, like, what if this notebook falls into the wrong hands?
BB: Oh no!
A: That’s a weird paranoia, right?
BB: My intellectual property!
A: And all the smut!

A: What do you do with the hand-written pages once you’ve encoded them? Do you, like, keep them in a trunk somewhere? For posterity?
BB: Yeah. My notebook is usually not just about the writing stuff. So I also write about life in general. It’s like a daily dump. Plus the work stuff. So I keep them. Sometimes when I start a new writing project, I review what I did in the past, how I how I approached the story, how I how I outlined, how I conceptualized the story. And then try to remember what what parts of it worked, what parts didn’t. So I can, you know, fine tune for the next…
A: And then you can use it for the next book that you write.
BB: Yeah, yeah.

A: So what did you learn from writing Don’t Tell My Mother that you ended up using when writing You, Me, U.S.?
BB: For Don’t Tell My Mother, I think … before the Spark NA workshop, before Don’t Tell My Mother, I was actually a pantser. So I didn’t outline. I just went with the flow. And then when I when I attended the Spark NA course mentored by Mina Esguerra, it changed the way I looked at writing. It changed the way I wrote. The three act structure and having an outline really appealed to me because it’s kind of like a methodical approach to writing. So I kept it. I kept that formula, I kept that process.

A: So I guess now you are a plotter.
BB: Yes.
A: How closely do you adhere to the plot when you write?
BB: I think I take a lot of time preparing the outline because like I want… parang when you write code, you have to have a design document first, right? You have to have a design?
A: Sure. Okay.
BB: Sure. Says all the programmers listening to this podcast.
A: Of course. That is what we all do.
BB: So, design document. You do the design document and then you completely burn it after you do it. But for me having that outline first before you write it gives a little bit of… lays down the foundation of your story. 
A: I think also the more time you spend on your foundation, the less time you take to the actual working and programming.
BB: Yeah. Exactly.
A: *gasp* We just found the correlation between writing and programming.
BB: Mind blown.

A: Because we were, like, discussing with a bunch of writer friends… what’s the most common day job for authors. I think we’re up there, programmers.
BB: Really?
A: I guess.
BB: Are there a lot of programmers?
A: I dunno here, like, in the Philippines. But I do read a bunch of articles and stuff…  interviews with authors in the U.S. Like, a bunch of them are programmers.
BB: Represent!
A: And apparently, lawyers.
BB:  Ohhh, lawyers.
A: Although here, I’m not sure if we have a lot of lawyer authors. We should do a graph.
BB: Yeah yeah.
A: Some time.
BB: A survey.
A: It’s a fun thing. Do a survey, like, what is your day job?
BB: Yeah.

A: We could see patterns.
BB: That would be interesting. 
A: That’s what nerds do.

A: Are you very particular with your writing tools, your analog writing tools. Like, do you have to have a certain pen, you have to have a certain notebook.
B: Yeah I avoid fancy things, fancy pens and fancy notebooks.
A: Why is that?
BB: Because when I use them … I don’t wanna use them, if the notebook is too beautiful. Parang I don’t want to taint it with my ugly writing. My garbage first draft.
A: I had to get over that. Because I buy notebooks and I’m, like, oh this is so pretty, I need it. And then they end up… after two years I still haven’t written anything on it because I’m not worthy.

BB: So for me…
A: So just any plain paper?
BB: I work better with normal notebooks and… With a pen, no preference. 
A: So whatever’s handy.
BB: Yeah.

AA: What about apps. Do you use digital apps?
BB: Apps? For You, Me, U.S., because I did the formatting, the publishing part of it, I discovered Reedsy.
A: Okay.
BB: It’s an online book editor. It takes care of all the stages of your writing from actually writing to formatting it into an ebook, a print PDF format. So that was really cool when I discovered it.
A: Ah. Reedsy. I have to check that out because I’ve heard it mentioned but I wasn’t exactly sure what it was for. But I knew it was a tool for authors.
BB: Yeah, it’s easy to use so it’s formatting for dummies like me.
A: Ah so formatting for ebook?
BB: I had no clue. You can also write … like an online word processor whatever. And after that you can also export it into the version… format that you want. Either epub, mobi, or pdf.
A: Ah okay. Because I use Scrivener for that usually. But I should give that a shot. Is it free?
BB: It’s free.
A: Is there a premium service?
BB: No, I don’t think … I haven’t seen.
A: So nice of them.

BB: But it’s pretty basic. It’s just like more what you see is what you get is kind of thing. 
A: So the learning curve isn’t that steep. Anyone can.. I mean, if you know how to use a computer, you can probably figure it out.
BB: So it’s for basic formatting. If you’re not fancy about your section breaks, about your chapter titles.
A: Like your drop cap and stuff like that.
BB: Your section breaks are, like, squiggly lines. It works.
A: We’ll put the link to Reedsy in the shownotes. Any other apps?
BB: It’s pretty much it. My laptop… I type in MS Word. I shift between long hand and MS Word.
A: So MS Word is your preferred…
BB: Yeah.
A: I guess it’s still the standard. You do have a day job and something you work before you go to work. I mean you do your writing before you go to work.
BB: Uh-huh.
A: So I’m guessing you hold regular hours, you’re not a night owl. 
BB: It depends my current life… my current siituation. For Don’t Tell My Mother, we had to  finish the manuscript in six weeks. So I wrote in the morning and also in the evening, so I used to… For Don’t Tell My Mother, I woke up at five thirty, go for a jog, and then the morning session is mostly like just a blitz.
A: Ah ok.
BB: You don’t think of what you’re typing. Just type it. Just push it out. And then I go to work and then in the evenings that’s when you kind of review what you wrote in the morning and then weed out the garbage. Weed out the stuff that don’t make sense and then continue.
A: You’re so organized.

A: What about … do you use spreadsheets?
BB: I don’t use spreadsheets. I’m tired of spreadsheets.
A: I haven’t gotten into that yet either. Apparently that’s a thing.
BB: I spend more time with spreadsheets than with my family and my cats.
A: Really? That comes up a lot at work?
BB: In work, yeah. Yeah, we use a lot of Excel at work so I don’t want to look at it anymore when I’m writing.
A: Do you think because you’re on the computer the whole day for your day job, do you think that’s why writing longhand works for you? Does it, like, put you in a different frame of mind? “I’m a writer now.”
BB: Yeah. When I write longhand, it’s more like, I guess it’s equivalent to doodling. So you just write, you don’t think of… You don’t have the backspace kasi, so you just write and write and write.
A: You’re just moving forward all the time.
BB: And so instead of … When I’m in Word kasi there’s always the backspace so you like type and then you catch yourself or you get ahead of yourself —“I don’t like this” or you edit, you edit something and you backspace everything, you burn everything so… Sometimes it works for me that I write it first long hand, the draft, and then when I’m done with it, that’s when I transfer it to Word. That’s when it joins the rest of the manuscript.
A: “Okay, you’re good now.” 
BB: Yeah.
A: “Go join your brothers and sisters.”
B: “I’m ready to commit this.”

A: You write F/F romance.
BB: Yes.
A: Who are your… I dunno, who are the authors whose books you like to read that are in that genre and subgenre?
BB: For F/F? I like Sarah Waters. So Sarah Waters is more of historical fiction. Not all of her novels are romance. I like Sarah Waters.
A: What period?
BB: Victorian.
A: Oh!
BB: Victorian period. So Tipping the Velvet, Fingersmith

BB: Who else do I like … Actually I’ve discovered more since I joined Twitter, since I joined #RomanceClass. I’ve been …  I’ve discovered more works by… more F/F romance. So I read F/F by Rebekah Weatherspoon— Treasure — which I use or which I read while researching You, Me, U.S.
A: I did not know Rebekah had an F/F romance!
BB: Yeah Treasure. The ship is college student and the stripper that she met on the bachelorette party of her sister.
A: Oh!
BB: So I read that while I was researching on You, Me, U.S. Right now my current F/F read is Mrs. Martin’s Incomparable Adventure by Courtney Milan.
A: Courtney Milan!
BB: It’s lola romance and it’s so cute. It’s so funny. I can’t stop laughing when I read it.
A: I need to get it.  You know what my disappointment is? ‘Cause … I don’t know if Courtney Milan has audiobooks but I can’t find them on Scribd. ‘Cause I’m on an audiobook binge right now. 
BB: Yeah.
A: I mean, it takes longer to read an audiobook than it takes to read print. Basically everything I’ve read of Courtney’s is — as if we’re friends, right? — everything I’ve read of Courtney’s is ebook or… yeah it’s mostly ebook. Again, it’s hard to get proper paper copies. Or you get them but it’s, like, months after they’re released. And if a Courtney Milan book comes out, you just wanna get it right away and read it right away.

A: What about local authors? Any good F/F romance authors… other than you?
BB: I haven’t read… Actually that’s my assignment: read more local F/F. I think with comics, there’s more representation than with novels.
A: Yes!
BB: That’s actually my assignment for this year, to get out there and read more local F/F literature.
A: Yeah, we should look for those.
BB: Yeah.
A: I mean, if anybody knows any good F/F … Filipino F/F books, preferably romance, let us know.

(This transcript will be complete soon.)

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