I think it was Stephen King who said his ideas come in bits and pieces over years, all nonsense, until one day something clicks and he adds together a bit of this and a bit of that, and he has the outline of a novel. It’s a bit like that for me, a gradual coming together. Thanks to Cay at Life of Chi, for nominating me for this blog tour about how we writers, write. She is 150,000 words into the first draft of her novel, and still writing!
How do you start your writing projects?
My current project Connectedness is the second novel in the series about Rose Haldane, identity detective. Having solved the mystery of her own adoption, she is asked by a famous artist to find the baby she gave away for adoption. I knew before I finished the first book about Rose, Ignoring Gravity, that I would write more about adoption. Connectedness is not a sequel, although there are some continuing characters. So oddly there was no actual ‘start point’, I just started jotting down thoughts in an ‘Ideas’ document. At that point, the book was called ‘Rose2’. Then when I found myself at a natural break in the writing of Ignoring Gravity, I sat down one afternoon with all the disassociated ideas, newspaper clippings etc and tried to make sense of the muddle. I fancied the idea of writing about an artist, and it all went from there. The action is partly set in Malaga, Spain [below], chosen because it is the birthplace of Pablo Picasso.
Click here to read about how I researched the Malaga strand. How do you continue your writing projects?
Once I’ve got past the ideas stage, I write a timeline. This is pretty much a ‘this happened then that happened’ format, once I’ve done this I have a clearer idea of where my story starts [which is never at the beginning of the timeline!]. I decide on my key characters and whose viewpoints I want to tell. Then I write a rough storyline for each viewpoint, then a more detailed version. After that I sit down and write one viewpoint at a time, I’ve found I cannot switch voices and remain authentic on the page. So I write one at a time, and then splice them together.
How do you finish your project?
Once the first draft is completed, I put it away for a while and do something else. Usually I am researching adoption for another novel in the Rose Haldane series, or something totally different for a free-standing novel. Then one day when the current novel is no longer fresh in my mind, I sit down and read it from beginning to end without making any notes. This way, I notice all the glaring problems: did I start the novel in the wrong place, is the timeline confusing, do I need to subtract or add a viewpoint, does the ending make sense?
Include one challenge or additional tip that our collective communities could help with or benefit from.
My tip is to not get fixated on writing for a particular genre or like a successful author you admire. It’s great to read loads, all writers should also be big readers, but leave that behind when it comes to writing your own story. Tell the story that fascinates you, get it down on paper, don’t get delayed by trying to make it like something else. Readers want to read original novels.
I am Passing the Pen to Sabrina Garie, whose new book Life Reignited, the second book in the Divine Temptation series, is published on September 3 by Ellora’s Cave. Book one in this series is Thirteen Nights. Sabrina and I met as fellow contributors to the glorious anthology about mothers, The Milk of Female Kindness: an Anthology of Honest Motherhood. “Life Reignited is a sexy paranormal novella in which the hero and heroine are seasoned,” explains Sabrina. It is part of an Ellora’s Cave series called VaVaVaBoomers that focuses on love over 50. Phoebe is an Amazon warrior, Sander’s a human scholar. Lovers in their youth, they find themselves working together when the Norse gods requires their expertise on ancient runes. They will have to prevent a conflict between the Greek and Norse pantheons or lose each other again—this time permanently.”
Click here for more about Life Reignited and Thirteen Nights at Sabrina’s website.