Friday, 6 November 2015

How do you write?

Most authors write the same way. They write, they edit, (again and again) and finally publish. Seems so simple. But there are so many divergent pathways on the simple route map. Some authors plan the whole thing by doing a synopsis or a chapter outline and some stick to it and some don’t. Others claim to sit down each day with no clear idea of what is going to come, but just write. The thought of a lot of dead ends and judicious weeding, if not downright chaos at the editing stage, puts me off this method.

My efforts usually begin with a rough plan centred around a character, sometimes male ie Matho in Abduction and my current wip and sometimes female, ie Daisy in The Craigsmuir Affair. I start off knowing what they want, but not always how they’re going to achieve their goal. If the character “lives” the plot usually moves in spurts as I think of a good idea and weave it in. If the character is more dead than alive, the plot fails to develop and I let it go or change my character.

I belong to a critique group and usually wait until I’m doing a second draft before sending each chapter off to them. I’ve tried doing it as I go through the first draft, but that puts pressure on thinking the thing up and often gets messy with plot twists. Few chapters return without requiring changes, but I feel I’ve achieved something if the worst they can do is indicate where I’ve missed a comma!

My last chapter came back with several critiquers saying that I’d set up problems and I saw at once what they meant, and hastily made appropriate changes. Once I get to the end of the critiques, it’s back to the beginning again to read through to see if the whole plot hangs together. Then there’s another check for mistakes and typos. Then a final check to make sure it’s as good as I can make it. That’s about five edits in all, and that might not be the end of it. Somewhere around the end of the second edit I’ll start thinking of publication and covers, whether it is worth sending out to agents or not.
All in all, it’s a lot of work. Sometimes taking the dog out for a long walk seems so much easier!

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