Tag Archives: plotting

Write Away

Last time I blogged I may have mentioned being a happy bunny because I got a three book deal.  Well, now I can actually give a few more details.

I’ve agreed to publish Locked Up, Locked In and Locked Down with Bloodhound Books, I know this is going to happen because I (a) have a contract and (b) I’m actually on their website!

Locked Up should be printed in Autumn this year, and I can’t wait.  Locked In is written and will follow in due course.

Locked Down, is the third in the series.  This hasn’t been written yet.  I have a bit of a story to tell about this book.  I planned it a year ago, but when I spoke to my agent I had this idea and an idea for another thriller, something quite different.  The advice was that without selling the first two of Locked, I was best starting the other book.  I did, I’m over 70k words in.  I’ve thoroughly enjoyed writing it and I will go back and finish it because it’s a great book, but right now I have a contract for Locked Down and that’s the one I have to concentrate on.

So I started writing Locked Down on April 11th and I’m 20k in so far. The book isn’t going the way that I thought it would.  Which isn’t a bad thing, this version is much more interesting than the first draft I started.  That’s the thing I had started Locked Down, but I wasn’t that keen on it.  So when I got the contract.  I started again.  Didn’t like that version either.

So I threw the plot in the bin and just started writing.  The book doesn’t start quite where I thought it would start.  It doesn’t even start with the person I thought it would.  Now it has started it’s flowing nicely.  Have a moment earlier on this weekend when I realised I’d written to a crux moment when a clue needed to be revealed.  The problem was – I had no idea what the clue was going to me.

That meant I put the writing aside.

Then I went to the Llandeilo LitFest listened to a panel of female crime writers, and then some very dark poetry. It was an interesting day, and well worth the journey.

A day away from the laptop and writing and I came back with a clear idea of what had to happen next and have been writing it since.

I guess that’s all I have to say. Sometimes you have to ditch what doesn’t work, start over, and even take time away from writing in order to actually be able to write.  Worked for me.

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How To Write

Where I work 151001There are lots of ways to get that story out of your head and onto the pages, different things work for different people.  So where do you start?

Are you a pantser or a plotter?

First time I was asked this I had to ask what a pantser was, it’s someone who just who just sits down to write and lets the story tell itself.   I’ve heard Enid Blyton wrote many of her stories that way, don’t know how true that is but I remember hearing it.

Of course, the other alternative is to plot out the story from start to finish. Not necessarily in minute detail, but know where you’re going, at least the general direction.

On that criteria when it comes to novels I’m definitely a plotter.  For a short story, I might just write, but novels definitely get plotted, but rarely so tightly that I can’t use something new that comes to mind in the writing.  For example in the steampunk novel I just finished the first draft of, I pdoorsomething in the background of chapter three that I hardly took any notice of, it was literally only there to give more of a steampunk flavour to a character building chapter.  However,  by the time I got to a crucial twist at the end of the book, that background got brought very much to the foreground, in fact without it, my characters might have failed to do what they needed to do. The plot didn’t change but it left me enough room to get creative, and after all as writers, creative is what we’re meant to be.

I believe that even when I plan a book, and I can do in great detail often specifying where characters are even if they are off page, being open to changes along the way is important.

Once you’ve decided to plot or just go for it, will you write from start to finish ordot about to write scenes as inspiration takes you?

Have to say I’ve done both.  The steampunk I mentioned earlier, that was done in individual scenes as I figured what I wanted to happen in that scene, but I was jumping back and forth through the timeline of the book.   That worked for two reasons.  Firstly, because I had plotted the story out (loosely) so as I found a scene that worked in my head, I wrote it.  Secondly, because I’ve had a lot of other stuff going on the last few months, snippets of time is all I’ve had. However, since I had just finished, I now think that thisis going to be one of the most difficult edits I’ve ever faced.

I have tried to just write scenes as I’ve seen them then string them together but that’s tended to be stories about Mc and Mac, two specific characters – a cop and a pathologist -who usually end up working best as a series of short stories, they don’t seem to want to do a whole book together yet.  Which is kind odd since the end of the first story has one asking the other out. And the last story I have written so far in their chronology has them married.  But hey, sometimes you can’t control what charters will agree to do.

In thinking about this blog I stopped to think which way I prefer to write, and I think my preference is for writing a book start to finish.  That’s probably quite boring but it’s what works for me and I suspect most writers.   I find that the most effective way to ensure that any new threads that appear are best woven into the fabric of the story.

So turns out I’m a plotter who works from start to finish.  How about you?

 

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Disappearing Transparency

Cannot tell you how completely and utterly hacked off I am right now (well was when I wrote this during a late lunch).  I seem to be cursed when it comes to book two of the Locked Series.

To start with I paid to have it edited (months ago now) and the result was, to paraphrase, “this is hopeless, throw it away and start again”.  Now I know this sounds harsh, and it was a bitter pill to swallow, but with a little distance, I saw that it was also fair comment.  So I did.  And I hated it.  So I started again.  Still crap.  So I sat down and spent days re-working the plot until I was happy with it.  I printed it off, I stapled it together and I put it in a pencil case to protect it so I’d always have it. Seems like a good idea doesn’t it?  I thought so.

Anyway while I was away in Lincoln last weekend, I wrote three chapters of this new book, three quite pivotal chapters.  This was done in the car on the way up.  Then off to my son’s graduation and a good evening was had by all – Lincoln do good graduation ceremonies.  Next morning, when I got back into the car to come home, I thought I’d do some more writing, but I booted up the laptop only to find that I can’t have saved the damn thing and had lost everything I’d done the previous day.  Ggrrrr.

On that journey I managed to re-write a chapter and a bit, but I was too tired after the previous night’s celebration to get more done (yes I was tired, not hung over, it takes more than one bottle of wine to do that), so I’m still behind.  Today I thought I’d do a bit more, but like I said these are pivotal chapters and I need to know the plot plan to get them done.  So I reach into my bag looking for that pencil case.

The thing with this pencil case is that it’s one of the relatively small ones, clear plastic with a black zipper, the cheap type I got in Tesco for 50p, but it’s only holding a few sheets of paper so it doesn’t need to be anything much.  Which means that it’s quite small (6 x 3 inches) and flat.  That means that it sits quite readily beside my tab in a handbag that seems to have access to L-Space (one for the Disc-world fans there).  Guess what – it’s not in my bag.

No problem, I think.  I’ll print off another one.  Guess what – can’t find the electronic copy for love nor money either.  Can you hear hair being pulled out yet?

Anyway, I’ve checked my laptop case, my works laptop case, my husband’s car (he was driving on the weekend), phoned a colleague and got them to check my desk, gone through the pile of stuff I tend to collect because I’m not a fan of filing, checked down the side of the sofa (eek), pulled the sofa out to check behind and beneath that (scary and unpleasant), disturbed my hubby while he was sleeping (he’d just done his last night shift of this run) to check under and around the bed.  No joy.

I can’t think where else to look.  I could cry.  Getting that chapter plan together took ages, it worked, but now it’s gone and I’m not sure I can work it all out again.  Feel like just throwing my hands in the air and surrendering.  Having one of those, you’re-clearly-not-meant-to-do-this episodes and just giving up and not bothering to write any of it anymore.

But wait – and I may have mentioned this before – if I don’t write my brain itches – oh and I’ve just thought of somewhere else I might be able to look!  So ultimately I don’t have a choice I will have to work on the chapter / plot plan again because I do need to write this book.

Still there’s a lesson that I need to take away from this stuff up – BACK STUFF UP!

Always make more than one copy, physical and electronic, because if you don’t you get into this kind of snit and you have no one to blame but yourself.

I hate myself.

And I hate having an itchy brain.

So rant over, getting arse in gear, time to get to work figure it all out again.

Un-effing-believable.

After time spent searching, feeling sick and lost, pulling my hair out, getting depressed and eating chocolate (something I’ve managed to avoid for three days as part of an attempt to eat more healthily), having spent good time writing this rant, I decide to release the annoyance and start again. So I go to open the old plot, but accidently click into the wrong folder on the laptop – and there it is.  Sitting there all innocent, like butter wouldn’t melt in its mouth – there is the electronic copy of the plot filed in the wrong bloody folder!  Did I mention that I’m not keen on filing?

If I’d been able to find that when I first looked, none of this rant would have needed to have happened.  Then to add irritation to annoyance, my husband gets up, comes down, tells me he did the vacuuming yesterday (love that man) and he might have knocked stuff under the bed, but it doesn’t end there, he then passes me the pencil case, casually, like it doesn’t mean anything.

AAARRRGGGHHH!!!!!

Apparently, the damn thing was under my side of the bed all along, lurking just to give me nightmares apparently.

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