Carrot Ranch #FlashFiction ‘Speed Dating’ #99Words #SundayBlogShare

This post was written in response to Charli Mills at Carrot Ranch’s weekly #99 word Flash Fiction Challenge. This week’s prompt is to include ‘a line’ in the story. Check out other entries or take part yourself!

Speed Dating Lines

“You’re a writer?”

She nodded, expecting him to make an excuse and move away, instead he asked, “Could you write me an original pick up line?”

“I’m not helping you lie.”

“Are you kidding?” He said waving his arm around the crowded venue. “Everyone’s expecting me to pretend.”

“You’re right. It’s so sad.” She stood, “I shouldn’t have come.”

“Wait, could I borrow your pen and notebook?”

She hesitated then pushed them towards him.

“I’m tired of pretending,” he wrote.

“Just be yourself,” she wrote back.

“Could we both be ourselves somewhere quieter?” he wrote.

She drew a smiley.

*****

****

Unusual place for me, I know, but this is where Charli’s ‘lines’ brought me this week!

I’ve never been speed dating, having been (more or less!) happily married for over thirty years, but I’ve heard and read a lot about it, and I’m afraid many comments are negative. You all know by now that I’m an incurable romantic, so for this particular couple in my flash, it ended well, and might even be the start of something honest…

If you want to know more about speed dating, follow the link under the picture.

What’s your experience or thoughts on speed dating?

****

 

Carrot Ranch #FlashFiction ‘Passing on the Spear’ #99Words

This post was written in response to Charli Mills at Carrot Ranch’s weekly #99 word Flash Fiction Challenge. This week’s prompt is to include a fishing tale in the story. Check out other entries or take part yourself!

Passing on the Spear

After Ernest Hemingway’s novella ‘The Old Man and the Sea’

Manolin pounded his fists on the weathered door. “Santiago, I’ve brought you coffee!”

The old man had spent the last weeks chasing a giant marlin and fighting off sharks with a simple knife on his way back home. The boy admired him as the best fisherman.

“Get dressed, Santiago! We need to go out to sea again. There are plenty more marlins to catch!”

Santiago looked up, his eyes shining and beads of sweat dripping down his brow. “You go. Here, I give you my spear.”

“But you must teach me!”

“Not anymore. Now I must join the lions.”

****

This flash is a reinterpretation of the final scene of The Old Man and the Sea, where the Old man (Santiago) hands his spear over to his apprentice, the boy (Manolin) and closes his eyes dreaming of the lions he saw in his youth.

Santiago, believes his life has come to an end, after his final, exhausting and futile battle against the marlin and the sharks. He managed to return home, but the sharks ate his trophy, the marlin, which was strapped to the side of his ship, so he only had its carcass to show, and considers himself defeated.

The old man accepts his fate and the natural order of the cycle of life, according to which all creatures are both predator and prey. He has reached the end of his cycle and can no longer help his apprentice, Manolin. The old man gives the boy his spear, symbolically passing on his skill and encourages him to continue his own journey as fisherman. Meanwhile Santiago, dreams of the lions he saw in Africa when he was a young man.

****

This weekend I was lucky enough to have my grandchildren again. They asked me what my friend wanted me to write a story about and I said a fish. They both decided to draw a mermaid!

Carrot Ranch #FlashFiction ‘Forest Bathing’ #99Words #MondayBlogs

This post was written in response to Charli Mills at Carrot Ranch’s weekly #99 word Flash Fiction Challenge. This week’s prompt is to write a story about forest bathing. You can use the Japanese term, Shinrin Yoku. Check out other entries or take part yourself!

Inspirational Walks

The Verger at Rochester Cathedral heard the author’s cane tapping the cobbled streets below his window. He must be on his way back from his daily, inspirational walk from Gad’s Hill.

Mr. Miles stepped out to greet his old friend. Turk trotted by his master’s side biting a dry branch collected in the woods.

‘A cup of tea, Mr. Dickens?’

‘Not today, Mr. Miles. The seventh instalment of Edwin Drood awaits.’

Miles sighed, watching him trudge up the hill, stopping to peer at the little graveyard under the castle wall where he had expressed his desire to be buried.

****

Unfortunately, Charles Dickens died of a stroke before The Mystery of Edwin Drood was finished. Only six instalments were published. Dickens died in June and the seventh, unfinished instalment, would have been published in October 1870.

Neither was he buried at the cemetery at Rochester Cathedral, as had been his wish. Instead, he was buried at Poet’s Corner in Westminster Abbey, due to the pressure of Arthur Stanley, the Dean, who was searching for a famous writer to boost the prestige of the Abbey.

Turk was his favourite dog, but he died five years before him, so Turk wouldn’t have accompanied Dickens on his last walks.

According to his biographer, Peter Ackroyd, Charles Dickens walked for twelve miles a day, either along the London streets or in the countryside in Rochester, Kent, where he lived. He was usually accompanied by one or more of his many dogs.

He either walked on fact-finding missions for his novels, or for inspiration and tranquility.

Gad’s Hill, where he lived for the last years of his life, is a forty-minute walk from Rochester. Dickens preferred to walk alone because his purpose was to think and create. More information on Dickens walks here.

****

I find walking in nature, is invigorating and inspiring, so I do it as often as possible. I often post pictures and poems or thoughts after my #SundayWalks, as I did yesterday, for example.

I’m fortunate enough to live in the country, and like Dickens, the town centre is about a 40 minute walk.

I used to walk with my dogs, but they’ve both passed away. I often walk with my grandchildren and children or my husband. I enjoy walking alone, but I don’t mind being accompanied. Even when I’m chatting with someone, I feel inspired and always take a notebook with me to jot down ideas.

Here’s a picture of a path I often take for my walks.

Here’s recent walk with my grandson, who loves inventing stories on our walks. On this occasion, some sheep had been put out to pasture that afternoon.

Does walking leisurely in a forest or the countryside open your senses and inspire you, too?

Carrot Ranch #FlashFiction ‘Bats’ #99Words #SundayBlogShare

This post was written in response to Charli Mills at Carrot Ranch’s weekly #99 word Flash Fiction Challenge. This week’s prompt is to include a bat in the story. Check out other entries or take part yourself!

Bats

‘Granny, what do bats eat?’

I sighed wishing my daughter was here to answer her son’s question. ‘I have no idea, Jimmy.’

‘We need to find out.’

‘Why is that, sweetie?’

‘We’re doing a class project about what animals eat and I got the bat.’

‘Let’s ask google.’

‘Who’s that?’

‘Someone who knows everything.’

‘Everything?’

I nodded and tapped the microphone. ‘Ask your question.’

‘What do bats eat?’ Jimmy asked.

A woman’s voice replied. ‘Most bats eat insects and are called insectivores…’

Mrs Google is a really clever lady, granny. Can we ask her when mummy is coming back?’

****

This weekend I was lucky enough to have my grandchildren visit. While we were busy doing some arts and crafts, I told my grandson I had to write a story about a bat. He was horrified at first and begged me to choose another animal, so I told him it had to be a bat, because Charli, was the boss and said it had to be a bat. He insisted they were black and ugly, so I suggested drawing a ‘cute’ bat.

This what he finally came up with. And he was wearing his batman sweatshirt!

While he was colouring his cute and colourful bat, I started jotting down some ideas and I asked him to help me write the bat story.

‘Shall we include a cave in the story?’ I asked him and he shook his head violently. ‘I want to know what bats eat.’ he said and so we asked Google and found out a few things about bats. He was relieved that they ate mostly insects!

We had a great time chatting about bats and colouring. His little sister joined us in the fun and his mum, my daughter, popped in now and again to check on our progress and chat. It was a lovely way to spend the evening, so I’m puzzled as to why my story took such a sad turn.

I suppose I was thinking how lucky we all are to have each other and how important siblings, parents and grandparents are for children. Sometimes we forget to value what we have, until we no longer have it. I certainly hope he never has to miss anyone in his family.

When we’d both finished our tasks, he said he’d like to send Charli the picture, so Charli, here’s the prettiest bat you’ll ever see! Thanks so much for the prompt and for hosting the weekly challenge.

****

#CarrotRanch #FlashFiction ‘Red Ink’

Red Ink

The poet always wrote with red ink.

A constant reminder that his blood, the blood that pulsed through the fingers that held his pen, was red, not blue like the rippling sea, or black, like a moonless night…

His blood was red, a bold, vibrant scarlet, ablaze with love or hate, sometimes sizzling with lust, others fierce with rage, but never tepid.

His blood was red like a crimson dawn, or a ruby sunset.

Black or blue was the choice of those who embraced the vulgarity of conformity.   

He lifted his pen, growled at the blank page and bled.

****

T. S. Eliot’s well known quote, in which he compares writing to spilling out one’s soul, using ink instead of blood, prompted me to write this flash.

I’m sure he didn’t use red ink, or blood to write, but he wrote with fierce honesty, strength and beauty.    

****

This post was written in response to Charli Mills at Carrot Ranch’s weekly #99 word Flash Fiction Challenge. This week’s prompt is ‘Ink’. Check out other entries or take part yourself!

1 Day to Book Launch of ‘Midsummer at Eyre Hall’: My Happy Ending, Thanks to Camus, Orson Welles and My Daughter.

Tomorrow is the big day. The Eyre Hall Trilogy is officially complete and available for purchase and download on Amazon as a Kindle ebook.

My proof for the paperback version of Midsummer at Eyre Hall arrived today. I’ll be checking it through carefully, and it will be available to purchase in print before the end of the month.

Today’s post is about happy endings.

 

My Trilogy

The Eyre Hall Trilogy in my hands! What an exciting moment, even though Midsummer at Eyre Hall is the proof copy.

In this final post, I’m going to tell you about one of my greatest challenges. I needed to make sure the end of The Eyre Hall Trilogy was not disappointing for readers who had read the previous books. After their emotional investment and the time spent reading, I wouldn’t want to let them down.

The main dilemma regarding the ending: it  could be happy or not.

As I briefly discussed in my previous post, a happy ending is not mandatory in a romance, or in a gothic romance, or even in a Victorian gothic romance, but in the end, that’s what has happened in The Eyre Hall Trilogy.

Why did I think of an unhappy ending in the first place?

Well, I didn’t want to be accused of promoting false expectations or chosing the easy way to end my trilogy on a marriage or birth, after all, the end, the real end of our lives, is pretty depressing.

I finally decided to stop at a happy moment, mainly because it was my daughter’s request and Camus’ influence, so I followed Welles advice and found the right place to stop in order to have an optimistic ending.

 

Orson-Welles-fun-wise-quotes

 

Before we continue, let’s take a few minutes to discuss happiness. What is happiness? What is a happy ending?

According to Camus, life becomes absurd once we realise that from the moment we are born, we are walking towards our inevitable death.

Life is absurd, but we can make one of two important choices: to live or to die.

We can exert our freedom and refuse to play the absurd game by committing suicide, or we can freely accept the absurdity of life and chose to be happy.

So, if we choose to be happy, we accept our transient nature and implicitly agree to make the most of our time here.

camus qute

Now, back to The Eyre Hall Trilogy. Why is it a happy ending?

Mainly because the main characters, the characters the reader cares most about, are in harmony with the life they lead at the moment the narrative stops. They have made their choices, fought for what they wanted, and they have achieved what they desired, so they are happy at the end.

On the other hand, not all the plot lines are tied up optimistically, and not all the characters are living in harmony. John, Annette and Susan made some unwise decisions which they will have to live with. There is a shadow looming over Michael due to some risky decisions he made, and of course, Jane is getting older towards the end of the novel, and although she is in good health, in Victorian England life expectancy was low, but I wrote ‘The End‘ before she died.

The final moment in Midsummer at Eyre Hall is full of harmony, but the characters, the reader, and the writer are well aware that this is a photograph of a fleeting moment. In any case, I hope you enjoy this temporary representation of happiness.

*****

The following is an extract from Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall, where Charles Dickens and Jane Eyre are discussing the difficulty of ending a novel. Mr. Dickens is visiting Jane and they are chatting by the fireplace at Eyre Hall, after dinner. He calls her Miss Elliot, beause it was the pen name Jane used at that time.

It’s one of my favourite intertextual scenes in the novel; the author I most admire chatting to my favourite fictional character about literature. A magnificent moment.

****

Dickens Victorian lady

“The time has come to end this wonderful evening. I would not like to tire you, or I shall not be invited again.”

“Endings are so sad in real life, and so hard to write in fiction. How does an artist know a work of art has reached its end? And what is a good ending to a great story?”

“Indeed. It is no secret that I struggle with every ending.”

“I prefer happy endings, as you know, Mr. Dickens. Readers prefer a satisfactory conclusion. It makes the reading more rewarding.”

“Perhaps you are right, my dear Miss Elliot, but I am afraid it is not always possible.”

“Who should we bear in mind when writing the end, the reader or the story?”

“The reader always. We write for our readers. I had a more pessimistic ending for Great Expectations, but my dear friend Wilkie Collins persuaded me, or shall we say convinced me, that my readers would prefer a more positive ending, so I left the door open for Pip and Estella.”

“And are you pleased with this modification?”

“Yes. I have no doubt the story will be more acceptable with the altered ending. After all, I think Wilkie was right. It is for the better.”

“I must admit, it is one of my favourite novels, and I am glad you decided to present a happy ending. Would you read the last chapter before we retire?”

“It would be a pleasure, Miss Elliot.”

She handed me a copy of Great Expectations. I opened the last chapter and read the ending she wanted to hear.

‘I took her hand in mine, and we went out of the ruined place; and, as the morning mists had risen long ago when I first left the forge, so the evening mists were rising now, and in all the broad expanse of tranquil light they showed to me, I saw no shadow of another parting from her.’

Seconds later, I closed the book and watched a single tear slide down her cheek.

“Thank you, Mr. Dickens. That is the most perfect ending anyone has ever written.”

I wanted to add that it was a mere illusion, because there can be no happy ending to any story. We will have to surrender everything we have, in the end, and we will leave this planet as naked and helpless as we came, but I was silent. Why spoil the magic moment?

*****

What kind of endings do you prefer in the novels you read or write?

Why I write neo-Victorian Fiction

I’ve had a special and personal interest in Victorian Literature since I was about 12, when my teacher, Sister Catherine, used to read aloud to us, mostly Victorian novels, which I grew to love. She introduced me to the Victorians. I vividly remember listening to The Moonstone, David Copperfield, Little Women, Tom Sawyer, and Huckleberry Finn. I can still hear her soft sibilant voice tell us all those wonderful stories, which made us laugh and cry. I wrote a post about Sister Catherine some time ago.

 

Moonstone

I write historical fiction because I love travelling in time and space. I’m not interested in purposefully (I’m afraid I can’t control my subconscious) writing about myself or my contemporaries, at the moment. I prefer to lose myself in other places and eras. I’m especially obsessed with Victorian times and writers, because they have become my beacon in the sea of words and ideas I need to express.

I am fascinated by novels such as Jane Eyre, Oliver Twist, Silas Marner, Persuasion, Tess of the d’Urbevilles, The Woman in White, etc. My inspiration and ideas come mainly from 19th and 20th century writers, especially the Victorians. The Eyre Hall Trilogy is a tribute to my Victorian ‘Masters’ who introduced me to the pleasure of reading and taught me the craft of writing. Many of these writers and their literary creations appear throughout my trilogy.

Jane Eyre

History is continuous, and understanding can only occur in retrospect. We need to stand back and expose the prejudice and injustices of the past in order to understand the present and move forward. This can only occur in retrospect. If you take a step back from a problem you have a better angle. You can now see the whole picture. It’s happened and it’s over. You can understand it better.

We congratulate ourselves because we have a fairer education system and more freedom of choice, gender equality, but I’m asking readers to walk in Victorian shoes, to understand our literary grandfathers and where we come from. How we fought to gain these social advances and why the struggle is ongoing.

All Hallows Museum

Which writers have influenced me?

My most important influence is Charlotte Bronte. Her literary creations, Jane Eyre, Edward Rochester, Richard Mason, and Bertha Mason have come to life once more, twenty-two years after Jane Eyre ended. I have also brought to life the original setting and recreated a new residence for the Rochester family, after Thornfield Hall was burnt down, Eyre Hall.

Charles Dickens appears as a character in my novel. I have read many of his novels, letters, and biographies, so I have enjoyed recreating his voice and opinions in Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall. Charles Dickens’ London is also present in my recreation, and I have used many old maps of London, pictures and photographs of the time, to inspire me and take me around the city.

dickens

Robert Browning also appears, after his wife Elizabeth Barret Browning died, as Mr. Greenwood, Adele’s suitor. I read Thomas de Quincy’s detailed account of his opium addiction in Confessions of an Opium Eater, in order to write about the use and effects of opium at the time.

Jenny Rosset is based on Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s long poem, Jenny, about a Victorian prostitute. Arthur Conan Doyle’s Dr. Watson is referred to. Michael Kirkpatrick is partly a combination of Jane Austen’s Captain Wentworth and Thomas Hardy’s Gabriel Oak.

The characters in the Eyre Hall Trilogy read and discuss novels such as, Treasure Island, Persuasion, Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, Great Expectations, Silas Marner, and Wuthering Heights, among others. They also read and quote poems by Christina Rossetti, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Emily Dickinson, Anne Bronte, and Robert Browning.

Dorian Gray

In my final volume, Midsummer at Eyre Hall, makes special reference to Maria or the Wrongs of Woman, by Mary Wollstonecraft, Frankenstein by her daughter, Mary Shelley, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, by R. L. Stevenson, and The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde, among others.

What are my aims in writing neo-Victorian novels?

I had four objectives when I decided to write The Eyre Hall Trilogy:

Firstly, my aim was to expose Rochester as a tyrant and revindicate Bertha Mason, the madwoman in the attic, as his victim. I am sure that Jane Eyre would have become another victim, given a few years, which is what is disclosed in my novel.

Secondly, I wanted to make sure that amends would be made, so Bertha’s daughter (my creation) would be reinstated, and Jane would find happiness and lasting love, with another, worthier man (my creation).

Thirdly, I’ll admit I’m an irreverent, daring, and provocative writer, who looks to her favourite writers for inspiration. The Eyre Hall Trilogy is meant as a tribute to many Victorian (and some 20th century) authors, which I have already named.

Twelfth Night Billboard

Finally, I aim to write novels that will entertain readers and transport them to another time and place, to a pre-digital and pre-electronic age, where our great-great grandparents lived and loved, just as intensely as we do today, in spite of not having lightbulbs, cars, phones or tablets.

If my readers are encouraged to read or reread the classics, that would be an extra bonus!

I’ve written a previous article about writing prequels and sequels here: https://lucciagray.com/2014/11/08/sequels-prequels-reinterpretations-rewritings-and-writing-back/

How have I approached neo-Victorian fiction?

I’ve used the following literary strategies:

Intertextuality:  A literary device that creates an ‘interrelationship between texts’. I’ve included texts, plots, characters, from other novels in my novels.

My most important sources are the characters, plot and setting in the prequel Wide Sargasso Sea as well as Jane Eyre.

Metafiction: Literature talking about literature.

Charles Dickens discusses the process of writing with Jane, inviting the reader to think about literature and the process of literary creation. Jane also talks about the books she writes and her writing process.

Postcolonialism: Writing back to the ‘Empire’ and traditional Victorian writers.

I’ve done this by paying attention to the secondary or marginalized characters who would have been ignored at the time, such as the servants and the prostitute.

I’ve read between the lines of Charlotte Bronte’s unreliable narrator: a young, naïve woman who is in love, and looked below the surface for hidden meanings.

Feminism: Empower Jane to move on without/in spite of Mr. Rochester and I’ve made an attempt to reinstate Bertha Antoinette Mason.

Lucy writing

What’s my writing process like?

At this point, I ought to tell you that before I sit down and write, I have ‘seen’ the scene in my mind and heard the characters interacting. I usually jot down a few ideas and do lots of research which includes finding pictures and specific information, too.

The Eyre Hall trilogy is character driven. I plan a simple, loose plot outline, basically three parts and thirty chapters, and let the characters interact and move the plot forward. I need to know what my characters want, how they feel, what they’re wearing, looking at, thinking about, and doing, before I write. I learn more about them as I listen to them and watch them interact.

I’m overjoyed when readers recognize my sources, and I love it when they say they’re going to reread the original Victorian novels I mention, this isn’t my main aim. I’d like my readers to walk in Victorian shoes, to understand our literary grandfathers and grandmothers and where we come from.

My objective is to write novels that will entertain all types of readers and transport them to another time and place, where there were no light bulbs, phones, fridges, malls, emails, mobiles, planes, or cars; to the world where our great-great grandparents lived and loved just as intensely as we do today.

Are you interested in reading and reviewing my novels? I’d love to hear from you!

 

How to Write a #Novel #MondayBlogs

How I write: A Descriptive (not Prescriptive) account of my Writing Process

A. Mulling: The Creative Phase

Before I actually start my formal planning, laid out below, I’ve been thinking of my novel, talking to my characters, and outlining loosely, for months, or even years…

I’ve ‘seen’ what will occur, how it will begin and end, and I’ve run through the main events in my mind. I also have plenty of handwritten notes, some scenes have been written or outlined, and I have plenty of ideas, which I need to organize in some way, otherwise my writing becomes too erratic.

I soon realized I needed to give it a shape I can visualize as a whole and handle in small chunks.

This is the organizational method I’ve found has worked for me in my three novels.

B. Organising: A Three-part Outline

I love Vonnegut’s quote:

Vonnegut

Basically, Jane gets into some trouble, then she get’s into more trouble, and finally, she gets out of it… or not?

I divide my novel in the following three parts:

Part I or Exposition:

Jane gets into trouble.

Including Plot point one, also referred to as the tipping point or the inciting incident, which sets the action going. The reader will find out where and when the action takes place (context), what the book’s about (genre), and who the main characters are, and what they want. The main character will suffer the first major onslaught.

Part II The Story Unfolds:

Jane get’s into even more trouble.

Then comes plot point two, where the story starts to unfold and something happens to change direction or add to the crisis, leading to the climax, where the events move faster. Conflict is in the open. Secrets revealed. there is no turning back and the main character is in another or greater, complex dilemma.

The Final Outcome or denouement:

Jane gets out of trouble, but… not completely… yet (because I’ve written a trilogy). 

Many types of novel, such as romantic, mystery, suspense, or detective, will have a happy, or satisfactory ending for the main characters. Other types of novels such as what is referred to as literary fiction, may have a more sombre or open ending. My novels include both types of endings.

In any case, I always make sure there’s another conflict or obstacle just before the end, to nudge the reader, so he/she doesn’t get too complacent!

C. Zooming in: Chapters

I plan ten chapters per part. This isn’t a strict rule for me, but it gives me a sense of balance and security, so I start with it. Some of my parts have more or less chapters in the final version.

chapter

My Chapter Outlines

I outline the chapter including the following points:
First I establish an aim. Why is this chapter here? What does it add to the plot or story?
I establish the narrator (POV), because my novels have various narrators.
I identify the other participants.
I summarize the main events, which happen or are discussed.
I usually write some of the dialogue.
I often add pictures.
I establish the research needed.

I write it all down often by hand, sometimes it’s typed, and all of it, including photographs, research notes etc., are all included into punched plastic filing sleeves, which I put into a ring binder, in consecutive order.

I never write chronologically. I write some of the events first. The ones I see more clearly, in no particular order and put them into the sleeve. Sometimes I start or write parts of chapters and return at a later date because the rest of the action will depend on other chapters, or because I can’t ‘see’ how it will continue, and I need to think it through.

I never sit and look at a blank page or screen. I’ve thought about and taken notes before I write, and if I ‘get stuck’ I get up and do something else. Sometimes I go for a walk and think about it, or I write another chapter, or I read something for inspiration, usually something by Dickens, or Jane Eyre (I could reread them forever!), or I just leave it and get on with the rest of my life! Sleeping on it often helps.

As I let the characters do the talking and listen closely, the story is alive and goes through many changes, such as, chapter orders, narrator, etc. I even scrap or merge some chapters, or realize I need another chapter I hadn’t thought of, etc.

D. The First Draft: The hard slog 😦

Lisa

Once my novel is all there, in bits and pieces, classified in plastic sleeves, I gradually type out the messy contents, again in no particular order, wherever my inspiration or mood takes me. I do this on a kindle template and make sure I back it up on my memory stick and at least two PCs.

When I finally finish my first draft, it looks decidedly messy, and there are some ‘gaps’ or incomplete chapters, but it’s all there, at last. So now I need to get back to it chronologically. I print it all out and make hand written notes to fill in the spaces, improve, add, remove, rewrite, etc..

This is the hardest part, but it’s also the most satisfactory, because when I finish I have a novel (more or less).

E. Second and Subsequent Drafts.

This is the point where I start setting up the publishing process.

I can upload my novel for pre-order, I have three months to upload the final version.

I contact my editor to book dates, cover designer, beta readers, and I start thinking about/planning a marketing strategy, and I apply for my ISBN.

Finally, I start panicking and working to a strict timeline, to force myself to complete the novel in 4-5 weeks.

I read it through again, chronologically and critically, to make sure it flows and search for inconsistencies, etc.
There is a lot of work at this stage, and I usually need to make changes or do some more writing.

When I’m reasonably pleased with the second draft, I reread it aloud, and make more, usually minor, changes.
This third draft is the point I usually send it to my beta readers and wait.

F. Tinkering

Hard writing

The novel’s all there, but there are lots of little things such as, typos, small inconsistencies, things which need clarification for the reader, so I tinker again after my beta readers’ feedback.

For example I changed the ending, by adding a final short scene, just a few pages, in my second book, due to my beta readers’ suggestions, and even eliminated a minor character, whom they convinced me was superfluous.

Then it goes to my editor, who makes some more suggestions, and I make some more decisions and tinker again.

My fifth and final version goes to my editor again for a second edit, which is really the ‘proof read’, because I’m not making any more changes at this stage, mainly to preserve my mental health!

I write my first draft in a kindle template, so I don’t need to do too much in the way of formatting, but it takes time to upload, check, and recheck the final version on Amazon.

G. Promoting and Marketing.

This actually comes way before now, at least four to 6 weeks before it’s published, although it starts happening nearer to the publishing date and after. It includes planning Blog tours, cover reveals, interviews, guest posts, and booking advertising spots on online sellers, contacting readers / fans (I have a few lovely, loyal readers who get ARCs), etc.

Sounds tough? That’s because it is.

If writing seems hard it’s because it is hard. It’s one of the hardest things people do.’ William Zinser, author of, On Writing Well.

Why do writers write? Easy, because we can’t not write.

Hell

“It’s hell writing and it’s hell not writing…” Robert Hass

In other words:

“A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity.” Kafka.

Monster

So, please don’t be a monster, keep writing and finish your novel!

How do you write your novels?

Is there a best way to write a novel? #SoCS

socs-badge

Is there a best way to write a novel?

I’m sure there are at least as many ways to write a novel as authors writing. In fact, there are probably more, because authors could even write each book in a different way.

I don’t know if my way of writing is the best way, it probably isn’t, because I’m fairly new to this profession, having only written two novels so far, but what I do know is that it’s the way that works for me.

I call it the layered approach. First I ‘see’ the chapter or scene I’m about to write. I imagine the conversation, situation, place, and or action which will take place, and when I feel confident about it, I start writing.

The first draft is often an outline, just so I don’t forget, because I have another full-time job and a family, and sometimes I just don’t have the time to develop the idea fully when the idea comes.

During the next stage, I keep thinking about and seeing the scene. I call it ‘summoning’, as I walk, drive, cook, or even dream. If I can, I talk to someone about it, if not I talk to myself about it.

Then I expand the outline, and I continue expanding the outline, with various layers, on different occasions. Each layer focuses on a different aspect, character, or part of the scene. The layering is repeated until I’m satisfied. Then comes the editing, which I consider the final layer.

This process can take days, weeks, or even months, because sometimes I leave the first drafts and return much later, after writing other scenes. I never write chronologically, that is in the order the book finally appears.

I plan the whole novel before I start, but it’s a very loose plan, because I know the characters grow as I write, which sometimes affects the plot, and even the ending. I want to make sure I’m writing with a goal but without constraints.

I imagine it’s like filming. I’m sure no director starts filming scene one and carries through filming in the same sequence as the final film appears at the cinema.  I’m also pretty sure painters don’t start at the top of the canvass and finish at the bottom when they paint! The creative process is far too anarchic, eclectic, and subconscious, to follow a strict routine, although the final product looks deceptively ‘neat and tidy’.

Are you an artist? How do you create your work of art? Do you also do it like this?

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This post was written in response to Linda G. Hill’s #SoCS: Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday.

This week’s prompt is: Use the word “is” to begin your post – bonus points for using it (as a word on its own or at the end of your final word, i.e. “metamorphosis”) at the end of your post as well. Have fun!

Would you like to read some of the other posts?