I was tagged by fellow-writer Louise Gibney (also known as Miss Write!) to participate in this writing process ‘blog tour’. Louise’s first novel Girl Meets Boys is unfortunately no longer available for sale, but I’m eagerly awaiting her second novel — which she has said is “a story of family, grief, personal discovery and development.” She also writes tons of fantastic articles on her blog.
Louise asked the following questions:
1. What am I working on?
My second book is a science-fiction/horror called Moonstruck. The hero, Stephanie Walker, joined the Space Navy to escape her past and has worked her way up to First Mate despite being grumpy, violent and unsociable. Disliked by her crew, she’s nonetheless their only hope after a monster starts killing them with abandon. Luckily, she has the help of new recruit, Daniel, and she realises that they are much stronger working together than she ever was on her own. The book is currently about 20,000 words short of its second draft.
I’ve also tentatively planned out the sequel to The Rising Wind and hope to start on the first draft of that soon.
2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?
In a lot of science-fiction and horror, you’re often left with a ‘last survivor’, a lone hero who rises above impossible odds. In this book, I wanted to flip that a little bit, and show a group of people overcoming differences and working together to survive. As for whether they do or not, I guess you’ll have to wait and see…
More generally, I try to include a lot of diverse characters in my writing. The Rising Wind, for example, features a gay couple, but the book isn’t about that. They are just like a normal couple, and the alternate reality that they live in – whilst it has a lot of problems – really doesn’t have any prejudice about same-sex relationships. (At least at this point in its history.)
3. Why do I write what I do?
I grew up reading almost everything I could get my hands on. Sci-fi, detective novels, classics, Mills & Boon, historical romance, straight historical novels, trippy post-modern stuff, everything! I really like combining lots of different elements together in my work. There’s always nearly a fantastical element, but my stories are rooted in a world quite like our own. I also have opinions that some would describe as radical, and I like to explore how some of my ideas would play out if they became a reality.
4. How does your writing process work?
I’m still refining my process, and I’m terribly slow. It took me well over five years to write The Rising Wind. I usually have to spend ages writing ‘around the characters’, stuff that helps me understand who they are and how they think, but which won’t ultimately make it into the final story.
Anyway, here is my current writing process:
I start by writing out a few scenes in Scrivener, just to get a handle on the world and the characters. I call this a first draft, and it’s normally puked out and rarely has any decent ending.
Then I use workflowy to rough the story out, chapter-by-chapter, and scene-by-scene. (I used to use excel)
Then I re-write in Scrivener. I love Scrivener because it lets me drag and drop scenes around and stops me thinking of the book as the linear a-to-b thing. I give each scene a couple of labels, one is the POV and the other is the state its in. I’ll move around the story at random, so you’ll get some scenes that have been re-written several times and are close to ‘final draft’ and others that are still ‘stuff happens’.
Once it’s in a fit state, I send it to beta readers and get feedback. They are usually good at picking up the odd gaping plot hole.
The last step is to hire an editor to go through it. They usually send back lots and lots of notes, and we work each scene two-or-three times.
Short stories I skip a few of the steps here, but they still get re-written quite extensively. I don’t think I’ve ever sat down and written the story I first came up with. They always end up evolving!
Other writers to check out
Laura Hayley – Another member of the nanowrimo group, and writes over at Quaktaculaura. I’m delighted to see her giving my favourite form of prose writing a go – namely the short story. I thought her latest one, Black and White, was particularly poignant. I wish her the best of luck getting her manuscript accepted!
Matt Holland – I’ve had the opportunity to see Matt’s writing evolve over the last few years. He’s developed a fantastic and unique voice. Biting, funny, with great characters. Definitely check out his Gallaetha novels!