I haven’t tagged anyone of my own but if you are a writer and you wish to take the baton and run with it, be my guest. I’d love a mention (and a link back to this post) on your blog if you do. Or not, the choice is yours.
1) What am I working on?
Normally I like to just work on one project at a time; it helps me keep characters and storylines straight in my head. If I have an issue with a particular part of a story I tend to pass over it and go on to a part that is flowing. I’d never jump to another story to avoid writer’s block.
That being said, what am I working on?
I’ve just sent Under the Radar, a WW2 spy story set on a submarine, off for submission. A story of traitors, heroes, new beginnings and, of course, love beneath the waves.
I’ve been adding some chapters to Theory Unproven, my contemporary story set in a South African elephant reserve, for a Revise and Resubmit.
A plot bunny for a short contemporary wormed its way into my brain while I was attempting to work on something else and I had to write that before anything else. It’s now finished and out with crit partners.
I’ve outlined a 1920s master and valet style mystery which will hopefully be light in tone but I'm thinking about deferring that (and all the research it would entail) for a contemporary about miscommunication and language barriers.
I don’t know that it does. Ultimately, for all the different styles (historical, contemporary, paranormal) and settings (South Africa, London, Boston, the ocean), my stories are about two guys falling in love. It isn’t always easy (readers who have followed me since pre publication days will tell you I never make things easy for my characters) but they get there in the end.
3) Why do I write what I do?
I’d been trying to write a book for years, there are still pages of handwritten notes and research from before the days when everyone owned at least one computer in the home. But the words wouldn’t flow right, they never sat comfortably on the page for me and I couldn’t work out why. The novel got shelved, along with my dreams of being a writer, and I got on with normal life.
Then I discovered fan fiction. Slash fan fiction, except my slash couple soon became canon. Reading fan fiction, watching the show, inspired me to write again. Seeing what a friggin mess the official writers made of my OTP, forced me to continue writing. I (and thousands like me) had to put things right.
But soon I found myself restricted by the confines of the show, I started placing those characters in settings and time periods that they would never be in (not without a TARDIS, anyway). And as my settings got further removed from the show, so did the actions of the characters until I found I was having to force them to act like their show counterparts. I’d always prided myself on making the characters recognisable whatever the setting, so the first time I found myself making apologies to readers for OOC behaviour I decided it was time to branch out on my own, without the benefit of a guaranteed readership, and let my characters go where they wanted.
I appear to have gone off at a tangent there, but why do I write what I write? Because they are the stories that inspire me to put pen to paper. Because a tv show lit the touch paper and then shuffled back to let me take to the skies of my own imagination. And, while the show in question ultimately broke my heart, I have to thank it for reviving my dream.
4) How does your writing process work?
I am so disorganised. When the muse strikes I have a tendency to grab the nearest thing and start writing; consequently my house is filled with notebooks, ideas and scenes scribbled willy-nilly amongst their pages. It is commonplace for me to find ideas of scenes or lines of dialogue for stories long since written.
When it comes to the actual writing itself, I’m generally a fly by the seat of my pants kind of writer. I rarely outline (the story I mentioned above was slightly different in that I had several scenes already partially scribbled in my notebooks and I wanted to get them typed up and into some sort of order), but work off several key scenes that are already alive on paper and let the story and characters grow around them.
My characters are never fully formed before I start. It’s unlikely I will even know their names when I first sit down to write (they regularly start life as X and Y!). Some traits might be in my head for each character but often I see how they react to a given situation, assessing whether that fits with their behaviour previously. I’ll make more notes as I go, confirming eye colour, number of siblings, scars etc as I mention them to ensure continuity.
If I’m writing a historical or something that requires more knowledge than I possess, then I leave comment boxes with facts I want to check out, so as not to break the flow of the scene, and then I go back to them at a later date. Although not too much later. There’s nothing worse than getting to the end of a manuscript only to discover one integral part of the plot isn’t actually feasible.
With a semblance of a story, I go back to the start, rereading reactions with my new knowledge of the characters and their motivations and behaviour. Or armed with more facts about, I dunno, the Franco Prussian war. This is when I add and reshape, polish the manuscript into something worth reading before it goes off to my crit partners.
I’m a slow writer, favouring novels that push at the top limits of the word count for most publishing houses in our genre, and this is reflected in the frequency of my new releases.
I'm aware I have only a handful of dedicated readers out there, but never fear, even though you might not see anything new from me every couple of months (the industry recommendation for a successful author’s releases), I am still writing.
Sometimes I just get hung up in the details.