To answer some of your questions ...

Recently I asked the lovely Likers on my Facebook Author page what they would like to know about how I write. This generated quite a lot of questions, and prompted this post.
    Each question merits its own blog post really, but I've tried to answer as fully as possible in a reader friendly format.

Q: Do you you use writing software, e.g. Scrivener or similar? Are you a plotter or a pantser, or somewhere in between?
    I use plain ol' Word, on a Mac. But I also write in longhand, particularly in the early stages, and I'm a sucker for gorgeous stationary!
    Longhand allows me to write in a stream of conscious, unedited way, and this is where I find out about my characters and what they want and why.

    Plotting v Pantsing?  I'm a bit of each! I spend a really long time developing my characters, where they live, their pets, their cars, their Pinterest Boards, their friends, that sort of thing, and then I write a sort of map of how the story will progress, where the main pinch points go, and what the ending could be.
    When I start writing, it never goes exactly according to the map. I consider the characters and how they've altered and go back and plan some more scenes and re-write others.
    If it isn't going right, it usually means I haven't spent enough time on my character development, and I haven't ferreted out the conflicts in the story.
    Sometimes I find out that I've begun the story in the wrong place, and need to hack away thousands of words and start it later, or I've got side-tracked into a minor character who is entertaining me but adds nothing to the storyline. I save all my cuts though. You never know when they might spark another storyline.


Q: How do you deal with POV (Point of View)?
This discussion often comes up between writers. Point of View means that the story is being told through one characters eyes at a time. It is nothing to do with me, as the author. I am not narrating the story and I do not commentate. The entire novel is only ever seen through the eyes and ears and thoughts of one of my POV characters.

    Suppose we are being told the story by Lucy, we hear her thoughts and feelings, but we have no idea what anyone else is thinking. We can only guess by what they say or their actions, exactly as we do in real life.
   
   So essentially, I pretend to be each of my POV characters, and I write what I see and hear and feel.
    That's the simple bit. BUT!! You can't give everyone a Point of View. Only the main characters, and not necessarily all of them, just the ones who are really important to the story.
My novels all have a point of view from the Heroine, and from the Hero. They take turns in telling the story as it unfolds, from their unique viewpoint. The way I do it, is that the character who has most to lose holds the POV 'camera' while the other drops theirs. I do this by sending one character out of the room/scene, or by having them turn away, lost in their own thoughts, which gives the other POV character a chance to air their thoughts.
    I try to make sure that each chunk of POV is substantial, so that the reader knows whose head they are in, otherwise it's irritating and confusing, and leads to 'head-hopping'.
I very much enjoy writing from the mans point of view. My years of being the only female in the police station have helped in that respect!


Q: I’d like to know how you approach your plot.
My plots arise from the characters. For Summer at the Art Cafe, I needed a character to learn to ride a motorbike, as that was what I wanted to write about. Lucy evolved over a few years of relentless re-writing and honing, and now I know her so well, that including her in the later novels feels like meeting up with an old friend. 
    Ash, who I'm seriously in love with 🤤, grew out of the role of Lucy's instructor. He seemed like a man with a lot on his mind at the beginning, and I wondered why. Once I'd begun to create his backstory, I could see why the sparks were flying in his relationship with Lucy, and the other characters began to appear from that.
    The characters very much drive the plot, for me. It's never a case of me making up a plot and then trying to invent someone to appear in it.
     However, each plot has to have a sound structure that follows the traditional Three Acts, a beginning, an end, and a middle. It has to have hooks to keep you, the reader turning the page, and to keep you wondering 'will they, won't they?' right to the end.



Q: Inspiration, themes, ideas which develop into character interchange / plots
In my other life as an artist, I'm fond of telling people that you have to chase after inspiration with a club, it never just rocks up to you. However, as a writer, I have found that inspiration does sneak up on you. You just have to be receptive to it. It often pops up in my sleep, and I keep an old iPad mini beside the bed to write in the Notes section. I used to write in actual notebooks but I couldn't always read my writing the next day, which was infuriating.
    Motorbikes have featured throughout all three books so far. They say you should write the book you want to read, and I wanted to write about the amazing women I encountered when I learned to ride a motorbike, aged 52, and joined the world of Curvy Riders.
    Ed and Jo in Meet Me at the Art Cafe were both small characters in Summer at the Art Cafe, and I was curious about their backgrounds. Beryl, who made me laugh so much, appeared because Jo needed her. I'd love Beryl to have her own novel, but I think her forte is in telling everyone else what to do.
    Jake and Flora, in Escape to the Art Cafe are completely new characters, although Flora has been inspired in part by a young friend who tends to say it like it is, and also by the steroids which I take for my severe asthma, which make me very blurty. My involvement in the local Surf Life Saving Club was the inspiration behind Jake, the very hunky hero.
    I loved writing their dialogue, which I swear they simply dictated to me. They have made me laugh so many times, and editing the novel during the lockdown certainly provided me with a welcome escape, hence the title. I was almost sorry to send the manuscript back at the end.




Q: Do your characters take on a life of their own or do they always do as you wish?
    My characters NEVER do as they're told! It's a strange and magical moment when they say or do something that I haven't written for them. I think it's when I know that I've really given them their own personality. In an early version, Lucy threw a mug over cold tea over Sarah, and I stared at the screen in shock as she did it. It's been edited out now, but I can still remember feeling as if I'd been possessed. I hadn't expected that to happen!
    It happened a lot with Flora too. I'd literally burst out laughing, and say out loud, 'Listen to this, what Flora's just said. She's a bloody minx, she is!' and I'd have to decide whether I'd let her keep those words.
    People mention how much they like my characters in their reviews, so I must be doing something right so far. I hope they enjoy the next one too!


Many thanks for your questions! I've enjoyed answering and hope that I've given you some idea what goes on inside my head - it's very crowded in there! XX



Comments

  1. Hallo, hare a Dutch reader. I have a complain about the writing in Dutch of your book ' summer at the artpub' in Dutch of course. There a too many faults. Please take notice of it. Never seen so many!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Home Sweet Home. I have actually checked this with my Dutch publisher and she assures me that the mistakes were in the first print run and have since been picked up and corrected.
      Mistakes are annoying in a book and very distracting. I hope this didn't stop you from enjoying the story too much.
      Sue
      x

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