Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Characters: where do they come from?

We all have our favourite characters - people we can imagine in full, technicolour glory. You can see them, hear their voice, know just what they're like, feel as if you know them personally... often to such an extent that if there's a TV or movie adaptation of the book they were in, whichever actor is chosen to play that character, they are never right.

When that happens - when you really feel you know the character - the writer has done their job superbly. You might love or hate the character, but you genuinely feel that the person exists. You find yourself smiling at their good fortune, frowning at their stupidity and sobbing if they die. You feel that the book merely looked at a small period of their life - that they existed before the events of the book and they will continue on, once the last page has been read (assuming they don't die in the book).

I try to get my characters to be as realistic as I can, by imagining as many details of their life as I can - I want to make my characters as real as people who actually exist. Think about the people you know. They all have their quirks, mannerisms, strengths, weakness, things you admire about them, things that annoy you. I try to see my characters as clearly as I can see my friends.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Planning a book

I was at a dinner party with friends at the weekend and talk turned to the fact that I have a book coming out this spring. Several of my friends then said, "How did you start writing it? Did it just all come to you or did you plan it all out?"

I've seen lots of different articles on this and writers seem to fall into two main camps: those that plan meticulously and those that fly by the seat of their pants and just write.

As you might have guessed from my post about planning 2016, I'm a planner rather than a seat of the pants lass! That said, I've run the gamut between barely planning anything (the novel ended up 180 000 words long and soggy all over and may never see the light of day) to planning a book so much that there was no mystery left and I never wanted to write it (I have a full notebook on my shelves with meticulous detail about pretty much every scene and only about 2000 words of the book actually written)!

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

You're reading a book and you're not enjoying it... what do you do?

Do you keep going, in the hope that it will get better? Or because you're the kind of person who doesn't like to give up on a book.

Or do you give it up and start something else? After all, life's too short to read a rubbish book, right?

I fall very firmly into the first camp and to be honest, I wish I didn't. There are thousands of fantastic books published, every single year. I aim to read about 50 per year (and usually manage about 45). Even if every single one of those 45 is great, I'm still not reading 900+ great ones, just because life really is too short.

So why oh why, when I'm not enjoying a book, do I struggle on to the bitter end, almost every single time? It's beyond me! I certainly can't recall ever reading a book that only turned into a brilliant piece of work when it was halfway through, yet that seems to be what I'm hoping for, in my dogged determination to read the book, the whole book and nothing but the book (so help me God, sometimes!).

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Planning 2016 - A Year of Writing (I hope!)

2016 will be a big year for me. It will be the year I can officially call myself A Published Writer.


The Wrong Kind of Clouds is the first novel by me to be published, but it isn't actually either the first book that I wrote, or the only novel I've written. I was slow at converting any of the books I've written from 'written' to 'published' and have accrued a bit of a backlog...

Consequently, I've been spending time planning out 2016, specifically planning out writing projects. I drew up a page of 52 boxes and started pencilling in what I wanted to achieve, week by week, through 2016.

My first attempt was over-ambitious to say the least! It looked okay, but then I converted it to a Gantt chart and realised that there was neither any slack in the system, nor were any weeks designated for holidays! Now, I know writing often seems like a 24/7 occupation, but to plan it to be that...