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Interview With R.M. Archer

Another interview today! This time we’re with my friend Ariel, whom I met on Story Embers a couple years ago. (Wow. That’s crazy! I still remember writing my introduction post on Story Embers in a cold sweat. 😅)

Two years ago, I participated in her launch for The Mirror-Hunter Chronicles and now, in 2021, we’re back with another interview! Let’s jump in.

Meet Ariel

“I’m Ariel, and I’m a Christian homeschool graduate seeking to write quality fiction and equip other Christian authors to do the same. I’ve been writing for about twelve years now, blogging consistently for three years, and reading for as long as I can remember. If you need a heap of new book recommendations, come talk to me! It’s quite likely I’ve read something that’ll fit whatever you’re looking for.”

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  1. When did you first start writing stories for fun?

I was around six or seven when I first started writing. That’s the earliest I can really remember what I read, too, even though I know I was reading for a while before that. I was really getting into Nancy Drew at that point, and a little later I started reading Terry Brooks’s books, and I started writing because I wanted to write stories like the ones I read.

  1. Is writing your career (or do you plan to make it one)?

The simple answer is “yes.” I intend for it to be about half of my career, because I’m also really interested in going into youth and music ministry, but I do want to keep writing and to publish consistently and all that. And there are other writing-related things I want to do, also, like create fiction writing courses and offer editing services and that kind of thing, and I sort of tie those in with the writing half of my intended career.

  1. If you could look all the young writers in the eyes and tell them one thing about their writing journey, what would it be?

Ooh, this is a good question. I think I’d say not to lose sight of why you write. Your reason might change or evolve over time, but that “why” is going to be the thing that carries you through when you’re struggling with a story or trying to decide what story to work on next or… facing any other challenge that comes up in the writing process. Your “why” will help you to keep your writing on course and to remember what’s important to you about the craft.

  1. What is your process for creating a new story?

Hm… It changes to some degree from story to story. There’s the initial inspiration, which can come from just about anywhere: a conversation with a friend, something I saw while I was out, a writing prompt, a song I’m listening to. 

Often this is followed by a brainstorming stage, which generally involves writing out all of my initial ideas about the characters, plot, world, etc.; making a Pinterest board; and maybe starting to work out some of the questions I have about how to make the book work (if ideas don’t quite line up or I’m not sure where to set it or…). 

These days I usually outline before I write so that I don’t veer off in some totally crazy direction while I’m drafting and get stuck. I’ve always struggled with formula-based outlines like the Hero’s Journey or 3-Act Structure, so I usually just write out a general idea of how each scene needs to go, chapter-by chapter. Sometimes I’ll include some specific notes on what feelings or themes need to be emphasized, if I know exactly what a scene needs to do. But usually it’s just a general “Then the characters do this thing and get themselves into trouble,” lol.And once I have the book outlined (or sometimes if I just have enough of an outline to get started, lol) I start writing! And I try to hold my outline loosely, so if my character goes and does something unexpected but it fits with the general shape of the plot then I’ll usually leave it and adjust my outline accordingly.

  1. Who has been instrumental in inspiring and encouraging you to become the writer that you want to be?

My parents have always been super supportive of my writing, and since I was homeschooled they even worked fiction writing into my schoolwork. My parents have edited my stories, they’ve shared them with people online… the usual supportive things, lol. But beyond the overt writing stuff, they also instilled in me an appreciation for the importance of worldview, and over the past year or so I’ve realized that that’s something I want to make central not only to my life but to my writing. So they’ve had a huge hand in helping me to realize the exact sweet spot I need to be in to write things that are important to me.

The Phoenix Fiction Writers have also been super inspiring. They’re a group of Christian speculative fiction authors who aim to write good stories from a Christian worldview, as opposed to “Christian fiction,” and they’re super supportive of one another and of their fans, they’re great at connecting with their audience, their books are awesome… They’ve definitely been a big inspiration for me.

  1. Do you have any resources that you would suggest for other young authors?

Story Embers! The authors over at Story Embers write great articles about how to connect faith and writing, as well as how to simply write effective stories. Plus the forums have fostered a great community and there’s always someone ready to answer a question or provide encouragement or help you work through a tough question.

And the same is true of their predecessor, Kingdom Pen, which went down for a while but was recently revived and has been providing excellent content and community ever since its return.

  1. What does a story absolutely need to make it memorable to readers?

As someone who loves worldbuilding and loves reading books with unique worlds, I want to say fascinating worldbuilding. XD But the most important element of your story will be the characters. If a reader doesn’t like your characters, or doesn’t connect with them, or if your characters are underdeveloped, your story won’t have the same amount of impact. Characters are the lens through which your reader sees your world and story, and if that lens doesn’t feel organic or meaningful then the world and story will fall flat.

  1. What story are you working on at the moment?

I’m working on two currently. I’m in the feedback stages with my Asian-inspired fantasy novel Calligraphy Guild, which is my favorite project of all time. It ties in so many story elements and themes that I love, and I’m super excited to publish it next year.

I also recently started rewriting a book called The Masked Captain, which centers around a subversion of the “strong female character” trope.

  1. What are some mistakes you made when you first started writing and how have you improved?

Since I’ve been writing for so long there have been a lot of mistakes. XD The one I think of first is a silly small thing, but I’ve gotten a lot better about grammar in dialogue. I used to format my dialogue soooo badly, and it made things so hard to read, but now I’ve learned the different ways to punctuate dialogue around tags and actions and whatnot.
In my earliest stories, of course, true love was the answer to life, the universe, and everything, and that’s no longer the case. XD My climaxes are a lot more interesting and diverse now, lol.

I guess the biggest thing is that my characters are a lot deeper and more dynamic than they were when I started. My stories are no longer populated with quite so many walking stereotypes… although I must admit I’m partial to the “sweet and protective big brother” trope. But at least I’m aware of the stereotypes now and I use them consciously. XD

  1. Where can we find out more about you and your writing?

My blog, Scribes & Archers, is the most reliable place to find me. I mostly write about writing, but I also sprinkle in posts about books (reviews, recommendations, observations of the literary world, etc.) and I do fun tags now and then.

I’m also on Pinterest, Instagram, and MeWe, and I host a Discord server for writers and readers. 🙂


Thanks so much for joining me today, Ariel! 🙂 I love your answers.

And that, my friends, is a wrap-up! Having an amazing Easter season!

What about you? What’s your writing process? What is one area your writing has grown?

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