Stephan Morse was born the year 1983 in San Diego. The next fifteen years were spent slowly escaping California and surviving a public education system. Thus far he’s made it to the Seattle (WA) region with little desire to go further. When not trying to shove words together into sentences Stephan spends time reading, catching up on sleep, and otherwise living a mundane life.
1. Can you tell a bit more about yourself?
I’ve been badly writing off and on since a 5th grade homework assignment – but never completed a project until turning 30.
Writers, or more accurately, reading the many works out there that they have slaved over. Each book is a slice of entire worlds worth of ideas, stories, and chance to live a life outside myself. It’s impossible to read so many of these books without getting ideas that I’d like to explore.
3. What is your latest book about?
The most recent book to be published is Continue Online – Together. This is the fifth book in a series focused on near future science fiction. It involves virtual reality games, dead loved ones, a cupcake eating dragon, snarky robot AIs, and man trying to repair himself.
4. Where and how do you write
Everywhere I can find a place to write, and sometimes badly. I write during my commute, breaks at work, and at home.
The first time I always try to figure out an opening page or two to set tone then the ending. From there it’s filling in the blank between both sides of the book. Once the ending is in mind, I flesh out the first few characters by writing toward that ending. Afterward plot points start to shape up and major story arcs come into better focus. Sometimes it’s hard to keep every factor in place. In these cases I normally do a reread and edit to gain momentum.
6. Do you have an editing strategy and what is it?
I do whatever my wife tells me, badly. From there it’s trying hard to take my lessons learned from each new work and applying them as I write. After that I get a fresh round of ‘wrongs’ to correct then we pass it to the paid editor.
7. What does your family think of your writing?
Most people in my family are impressed to hear how well I’m doing, but they’re not avid readers or enjoy other genres.
Putting it online couldn’t have been easier. Getting people to take a chance – that’s a much harder task. I’ve written the blurb, had a cover change, and done too many editing passes. All of them lessons learned that came a bit too late. Ultimately, I attribute my starting success to going from a serial format to published books. It gave readers a chance to find my work ahead of time then boost the launch with reviews and purchases.
9. What do you think is the hardest part of writing a novel?
Hands down, finishing the novel. It’s the hardest part of the entire process. Then after that comes editing – but that’s not really writing. Editing is a magical skillset belonging to Wizards and other miracle workers.
10. What do you think makes a great story?
Characters make or break a story to me. Their interactions, how they talk, background stories, and even mannerisms. Characters are the biggest part of nearly every single story. I enjoy seeing flawed characters who have human reactions to absurd situations.
11. Looking back, what would you have done differently or why wouldn‘t you?
Lots of things. With regards to book releases, I would have chosen a different cover and written a better blurb. Editing pre-release would have been helpful. I’m lucky that the readers loved my work enough to look past so many glaring flaws during the first few months of release.
12. Where do you get your inspiration
A lot of it comes from reading other books in a genre. I ask myself, what hasn’t this setting seen? What kind of character would I like to read about? Admittedly, I’ve only written a handful of books, but this is the same concept I’ve enabled for my other works in progress.
13. How do you handle writer‘s block?
The answer is always the same. Keep writing – anything. The only way through writer’s block is to write.
14. Your top 3 tips for people who want to start writing.
1. Be prepared to write into a void – that is to put your work out there and not get any responses.
2. Be prepared to get negative feedback on all the things you did wrong.
3. And if you really want to be a writer, write regardless of the first two points.