Lisa Yarde, amazing Historical Author and friend, invited me to participate in IC Publishing's writing path blog tour - thank you, Lisa. Please check out her answers to the tour questions. As I'm composing mine, I'm actually in the spot where most of my writing endeavours take place, next to the corner window of my bedroom complete with cluttered desk and PC. The clutter is necessary; it's how I write. Speaking of writing....
1. How do you start your writing projects?
I am writing a series of historical cozy mysteries set during the early Edwardian period in England. I have my core characters organised so need to create a murder that requires solving by my main character, Flora Maguire. I tend to trawl through old newspaper reports until I find either a report that can be adapted to suit my story, or an event that happened at the time which can impact it, although I don’t change recorded history, I just embellish it something that might have happened. My latest novel mentions the Serbian Murders of 1903.
2. How do you continue your writing process?
I am an inveterate ‘Planner’ so the next step once an outline exists, is to summarise what happens in each scene, including dialogue, where the clues are scattered, how the scene moves into the next part and what Flora’s own thought processes as new information is revealed and how she handles it.
The story may change from conception to completion – Flora tends to tell me when the next action I have planned for her doesn’t feel right. She acts on impulse sometimes and I have to change tack to let her go with it, or the story becomes too stilted.
3. How do you finish your writing project?
Once I have a first draft mapped out, I submit each chapter to my critique group. This is a set of authors whom I have come to know over a period of several years. I trust their judgement and if they tell me a chapter isn’t working for them – I listen. They have saved me a lot of wasted time writing uninteresting prose and forced me back to the beginning on more than one occasion.
After a rewrite, or maybe two – I submit the manuscript to my agent, who reads it through and if she thinks it would suit one of the publishers she is working with, she submits the manuscript.
Sometimes a publisher will ask for re-writes, which I am always happy to do, but even then the final result may be rejected. My writing is quite individual, and sometimes, like in Royalist Rebel, readers don’t like my main character. The heroine was a real person and in that case, I believe I was true to her character. With my ‘cozies’ I need to make Flora Maguire, engaging, likeable and a person readers care about and someone they would like to follow through her own life.
4. Include one challenge or additional tip that our collective communities could help with or benefit from.
In this one I agree with Lisa when she says - Publish. The world of literature has undergone a massive change since the innovation of the Internet and because everyone with a computer can, theoretically, produce a book. Or should I say start a book, only a certain type of person can complete one.
There is a lot of dross out there, even more so now with the relative ease of self-publishing – however if you are determined to see your work in print, make it the best you can be. Learn your craft, draft and re-draft, and then hire an editor.
Take their advice, no matter how painful, you can learn from it.