I was recruited to write something on this subject by Michael Brookes whose blog you can read here. Michael is a prolific reader, writer, reviewer and film buff. He’s also a great supporter of his fellow indie authors.
1. What am I working on?
I’m currently writing what I hope will be an unnerving supernatural story. It’s a genre I haven’t really played about with yet although it’s one I enjoy reading. I’m a reader who is happy to read a story where all the ends aren’t necessarily neatly tied up and I’m left guessing. With the supernatural, there isn’t an explanation. I just want to explore the inexplicable.
2. How does my work differ from others in its genre?
Oh, a hard question there! I have just started my sixth piece of fiction and there aren’t two that you’d put in the same genre. In fact, when I attempt to categorise my work on publication, it’s a harder job than writing it. I read many genres so once I came to the conclusion that I’d like to write things which I hoped other people would want to read, it seemed obvious that I would write in many genres too. Traditional publishing steers a writer down a certain path and publishers have the whip hand. They can demand more of the same. The beauty of indie publishing is that we can write what we choose. It’s very liberating.
3. Why do I write what I do?
For the same reason most people write what they do, I imagine. I start with ‘What if…’ and it goes from there. I’m interested in many subjects and topics so I’d find it hard to concentrate my writing on just one or two genres. If I analyse what I’ve written so far, there’s always a bit of my personal interests in there. I think if you write at least partly from your own experience it makes the story seem more solid. Some of the characters say what I think or speak with my voice. Of course, most of them don’t. Writing is a wonderful way of exploring opposing stances in an argument. I’ve never managed to change my own mind yet, though.
4. How does my writing process work?
So far, (and I’ve not been doing this for very long) I begin with the original ‘What if…’ or ‘Just suppose…’ and take it from there. In some cases, it’s begun with a phrase, as with my recent novella Message in a Bottle. I was thinking about beachcombing because I love wandering along the local beaches and the idea of finding a message came to me. The rest followed.
My next book, due out towards the end of the year, also began with a phrase which is now the title. I follow the idea up from the point of view of several people in the story. I need tension. The characters mustn’t all agree and even if I don’t use it all, I need to feel I know their backstories. Once I have an outline in my head I tell someone my story. It concentrates my ideas. At this point, I begin to make notes.
The notes are a very thin outline. With a couple of books I tried to be disciplined but it’s not part of my nature. I put down a chapter outline and by chapter three I’d strayed way off track. I’ve not bothered since. I take the outline and begin at the beginning. Usually I think of another little twist or two to add in as I’m writing so they go into the outline and I deal with them when I get to them. I can’t write scenes out of order. I need the continuity. To that end, before I write a single word each day I read what I wrote the day before.
When I feel I’ve finished I put the story away, so that I can come back to it afresh after a couple of months. I also have friends who read it through for me before I get anywhere near the publishing process. I am lucky enough to work with a writing partner and we share our work and comment and suggest improvements. He sees my first chapter as soon as it’s written and I trust him to tell me if it’s interesting, worth pursuing, full of waffle or just plain cheesy! To do this, you really need someone on the same wavelength but if you find that person, it’s a massive benefit to you both.
And then who's next.
My writing partner, Jonathan Hill. Without his technical assistance I wouldn’t have any books out there in the wide world. He’s immensely versatile in his own writing and can go from funny to dark to serious without breaking stride. He also has high standards in terms of grammar and punctuation and he has more experience than I have in the structure of narrative. I return the favour and get to read and comment on his work in its infancy. It wouldn’t work for everyone but it does for us. You’ll find him here.