Wednesday, July 21, 2010

My writing Process

Since I've had a few people asking me about my writing process I thought I'd talk about how I write. There is no right or wrong way to write, everyone develops their own way of working. I always find it interesting to hear how other writers work myself, and often I'll pick up a few tips or think 'yes, I do that'.
I think all of my stories come to me from the central character. I'll often have read something or watched a TV news programme or overheard something that sparks the idea but the important thing to recognise is those are often the triggers for the external aspects of the plot.
For instance, in Animal Instincts one of the catalysts was knowing about a local animal sanctuary that was always struggling for funds, did great work but needed a lot of help to keep going. Clodagh, in the story is faced with just that dilemna - she needs to raise money or she loses everything.
But although that features in my plot - the crux of her financial woes is that she has trust issues (internal conflict) So when Jack offers to help, is it because he has an ulterior motive? Will he try to take advantage of her weakness (as she sees it)?
The external plot alone wouldn't provide enough interest to drive the story and make it an engrossing read. The emotional journey between Jack and Clodagh around the issues of trust do make it sustainable over the course of the book.
The theme song for the book was the Sugababes - Because I know how I feel about you now.
So, I get the external aspect of the plot idea - then I usually hear the heroine's voice in my head and I'know' who she is and what her issues are - this tells me the course of the emotional journey she needs to make during the book.
At this point I usually write a blurb - this is a back of the book type paragraph that sums up the story - what will make it interesting - the hook for the book. I also do a lot of thinking at this point about the shape of the story and the elements I need to include.
My agent or my editor might ask me for a synopsis at this point and I'll talk about those tomorrow. For now I'm interested in your process? I write funny - how do you write?


liz fenwick said...

Fascinating Nell. I love how we all work differently...for the spark normally comes from the landscape which evokes an emotion I guess and grows...i write serious...


John Atkinson said...

Nell, great post. Thank you sharing.

Without much order I write scenes from the main character and hope along they way I develop a plot. I can't bring myself to write an outline first. It would save a lot of time and work if I could. My mind doesn't work like that. The current book I'm working on I wrote 650 double spaced pages, had to dump 400, but I got a plot with a beginning, a middle and good ending. Thanks again for sharing.

Karen said...

Really interesting. I generally get an idea (my first one was sparked by an episode of Heroes!) and have a rough idea of what's going to happen and how it will end, and take it from there. I don't normally make a detailed plan as I like to see what happens once I start writing :o)

Janet said...

Fascinating. Thank you, Nell. I aways start with an intriguing 9to me) situation. Develop the characters and conflict out of that situation, then struggle to find enough conflict to sustain the novel.

Nell Dixon said...

Hi Janet, I think that's the crucial difference in recognising that the spark is external and can be useful but to sustain the book it's the internal conflicts between the hero and heroine which will keep a reader reading for 300 pages.

Nell Dixon said...

Hi Karen, I have a similar process to you but I've come to realise that although we may not formally write an outline or plan our subconcious often thinks a lot of stuff out without us realising it.