13 April, 2014

Infinite Drafts - The Writing Process Blog Tour

Writing isn't a grand form of high art that some people can pluck from thin air. It is a process, a discipline, a labour of love.

I've been nominated to take part in The Writing Process Blog Tour - discussing how I go about writing my novels and short stories - by Simon P Clark. Simon is a British writer currently undercover in the USA. His first children's novel, Eren, is out later this year. Now is a great time to get into his fabulous blog as all the exciting stuff is starting to happen - cover designs and all sorts. Check him out there or on Twitter.

So, here are my answers to the Tour questions. At the end I nominate another writer to take the baton from me. Make sure you check out her answers next week!

What am I working on?
Officially I am working on my second novel (well, about my fourth or fifth novel, but the novel I hope will become my second published one!). However, I got about 20% of the way through the first draft and then I went and had a baby, so I'm doing very little writing right now. Once we get past this first crazy month, I hope to ease back into writing - probably with some flash fiction or editing some old stuff first, then back to the novel. I will also shortly be promoting my first novel as it is published.

How does my work differ from others in its genre?
I don't easily fit into a genre, which might not be a good thing. I don't write "genre fiction" certainly. I describe my work as Contemporary Commercial and I'm sure it will get lumped into Women's Fiction at some point, but I've been told my writing stands out for its emphasis on the psychological portraits of the main characters - thoughtful fiction rather than high-octane drama.

Why do I write what I do?
I wish I knew! I love to try writing all sorts of things. Before I found my feet (and an agent) I'd had some good feedback on a children's novel and been shortlisted in a novel-writing prize for a flippant fantasy novel. I've also won a few short story and flash fiction prizes. But I think I like contemporary adult fiction for now. I love getting under the skin of a character - the drama and madness of each individual life, put under the quiet microscope of a book.

How does my writing process work?
Again, I wish I knew. I've called this post Infinite Drafts because my best work always seems to take so many drafts - though the variation from piece to piece is huge. I'm amazed when somebody writes one draft and then edits that one straight-off. I usually end up re-writing the whole thing - short story or novel - from scratch at least twice after that first draft before I can get on to the multiple passes of editing that I need. In particular it often takes me a couple of drafts to decide on person (first, second or third) and tense (past, present or future). With short stories it sometimes even takes me ages to decide which character needs to tell the tale!

I am a planner at heart. I do like to know where a story is going when I start it, though I'm difficult and also don't like to know exactly how I'm going to get there; I want to feel secure but not bored. I tend to plan events in my work before I start, but I don't like to plan characters in the detail some writers do. I prefer to have a broad idea of their personalities and then find out what they're like when I write that first draft, otherwise they feel too contrived to me.

So, I don't think I have one process for all my work. Once I have an idea I might be able to run with (the hardest part for me, certainly), I tend to jot some handwritten notes then start typing and see what happens. I actually think I prefer the later stages - editing each sentence, trying to find a new way of describing something eternal, attempting to bring the people and places alive. I find greater satisfaction in a paragraph that seems to fit exactly what I wanted to say, than in a rough draft of a whole novel. But each stage has its own joys. The one thing I try to be strict on in the whole process is giving myself time between drafts. You just can't be objective about work you've only recently finished. Head-space and variety are the keys to keeping any writer's work alive. This writer, anyway!

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And now on to my nominee...

Suzi Retlaff
Suzi started writing as a kid. Unfortunately, she took a huge break until a few years ago when the voices in her head wouldn’t be quiet. She started writing, and since then hasn’t stopped. Contemporary is her favourite, young adult and adult, and she’s still working on her goal of becoming published. You can find her on her blog or on Twitter.



4 comments:

  1. I take confidence from finding another writer whose process is primarily one of discovery!

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    1. I prefer that way of putting it to just merely incompetent at plotting ;)

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  2. Ohh, my face is way too big there. :)

    I like how you say it's your second novel (or 4th or 5th). I think that happens with most of us. Whatever my first novel is that gets published, it won't be my first written, second or even third. It just takes too long to get there. :)

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    1. Never too big! One novelist said something like "It took me 30 years to become an overnight sensation." Reader don't (and shouldn't) realise how long it takes to get that first book of publishable quality!

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