My Writing Process

Welcome to my destination on the Writing Process blog tour. Thanks to Jenny Harper for inviting me to share the journey. Her latest book, Face the Wind and Fly, was released in December. You can visit Jenny’s blog, here.

Now, about my writing process…

What am I working on?

Typically, I’m working on more than one project. When I face inertia on one, I can usually make progress on another. For me, it’s a healthy way to work; putting one character and her dilemmas aside and revisiting another one seems to allow my subconscious to do its thing. It’s a bit like my life really – I have an excellent knack for zipping like a fly from one thing to another. I come back to those half finished jobs and think, ‘Oh, yes. That’s what I was up to.’

I know some writers only give their attention to one project at a time; they focus, they plot and they deliver. I do envy them, which is a waste of energy because we’re not all programmed the same way so I just have to suck it up and get on with doing it my way.

So, at present, I’m doing a final polish on my second book – Vicki’s Work of Heart – due out in March, and developing my yet-to-be named fourth book. All I can tell you is that the heroine’s name is Gigi – short for Gabriella Gilmartin. (G.G. See what I did there?) It’s a modern day, riches to rags story with, of course, a truly scrummy hero, some dishy yachties, friends you’d love and friends you’d ditch, and some dastardly rich boys. The setting is on an island, and I’m already very excited about where I’ll be taking Gigi.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Yikes! I’ve been struggling over my answer to this question. The immediate and slightly fatuous answer which comes to mind is, because it’s written by me and nobody else. Like I said in the previous answer, we each do things our own way. So my writing will be informed by my experiences, the people I’ve met and my interpretation of life.

I do have a history of performing in amateur dramatics and, aside from stories written for school exercises, as a child I wrote plays for my friends to perform. So I love writing dialogue and quickly visualise scenes unfolding, voice intonation and performance. Although I do loathe scenes where writers put in the minutiae of interaction, and describe every move like a pedantic stage director. I believe, if the dialogue is good, the reader can picture the scene without all that.

Why do I write what I do?

I started writing in my early twenties, when I fell in love with Jilly Cooper’s romances – Prudence, Bella,Octavia etc. I wanted to write feelgood stories that made the reader chuckle. I wanted heroines the reader could really identify with and settings that transported them from their day-to-day existence. Jilly Cooper is one of my heroines.

So, I started writing a romance for young adults because, at the time, I was teaching in a comprehensive school and saw that most of the girls were reading Mills & Boon romances. Nothing wrong with that, but I wanted to write a romantic comedy for teenagers, with a teenage heroine. It took me years to complete, because I was busy teaching and getting on with life. Then I moved on to writing for contemporary women, but that first book Passion Fruit Sundae is still on my list of books to revisit.

How does your writing process work?

I get an itch to pursue a storyline. A character and her dilemma pop into my mind and I think, Ooh, how might her life turn out if this happens…?

Sometimes, a whole scene unfolds in my head and I have to write it down before I lose it. It might not be the opening scene but it’s usually a pivotal scene. For Millie’s Game Plan, I wondered what might happen if the heroine were held hostage with someone she’d decided wasn’t right for her. How might her opinion change if she were forced to be with him for more than ten minutes? I wrote the scene where she’s trapped in the crypt, quite early on but it doesn’t appear until chapter 17. Like a fly, I don’t mind jumping about in the chronology of my novel to write certain scenes, and then coming back to fill in the rest.

I often think I’d like to be a plotter. I do try but, once I’ve written the plot and started writing, I find the story veers away from the original route. Months later, I re-read the plot and think, Oh, yes, I’d forgotten I was going to do that. But, fortunately, I never think, What a pity I didn’t.

One of the things which most delights me in the writing process is journeying into the unknown. Sometimes I feel like I’m channelling my characters, particularly when they do unexpected things. I was working with a character who was very sympathetic and an unfortunate victim. But, one day, she stole a pair of trousers from a department store and her true colours were revealed. The story became much darker and, I think, better as a result.
On 20th January, the Writing Process blog tour visits three very different authors. They are:

Wendy Cartmell

Wendy is the author of the Sgt Major Crane novels; detective stories set in and around the Aldershot Garrison – the home of the British Army. There are currently five in the series with more to come. She is also a book reviewer for on-line sites, E-thriller and Female First. In October 2013 she was named in the Cool Girl’s Guide, Chick-Lit Top 50 of Leading Influential Authors.

Wendy’s blog can be found here.

Hannah M.Davis is the award winning author of the transformational young adult novel, ‘Voices of Angels’. She can be found living with her husband and cat in Lincolnshire and also on her website, where a free short story is available to download. Hannah is currently writing two new books, one of which is a guide to writing your own novel and the other is a dark and sexy novel for teenagers and adults alike.

Hannah’s blog can be found here.

Julie Houston
Following the success of her first novel, Goodness, Grace and Me, Julie has changed from full-time to part-time teaching. She runs and swims because she’s been told it’s good for her, but would really prefer a glass of wine, a sun lounger and a jolly good book.

Julie’s blog can be found here.

4 thoughts on “My Writing Process”

  1. Oh I do wish I could be fruitful working on lots of different projects at once! I have to focus, though! Anyway – how are you researching Gigi’s travels? Lots of trips toexotic locations, I hope!

    1. Ahem, not actually been to an exotic location since my brother-in-law’s wedding in the Caribbean, eighteen months ago, but I have a vivid imagination. :o)

  2. Thank you for sharing all that. It’s very helpful to learn how other writers proceed with plotting, thinking up characters and getting the story written. I’m so looking forward to those dastardly rich boys [why do we all take so much interest in the villains?]

    1. Thanks, Beth. Sometimes, I think villains are more interesting than the hero (can I say that?!) They can be funny; they can be caricatures and in that exaggerated state engage us. Plus, the very fact that they are getting in the way of our hero’s or heroine’s progress, increases our buy in to the story.