Wednesday, 6 August 2014

And now for something completely different.

Getting The Words Down – The Writing Path Blog Tour

 Russell Philips a writing colleague of mine invited  me to take part in IC Publishing‘s Writing path blog tour. I thought it might be interesting to join in and do something a bit different to writing about ditch crawling for a change.  The idea is to exchange ideas of how people write by answering a set of questions so here goes:
1.       Share how you start your writing project(s).

My inspiration originally came, like many others I suspect, in wanting to see if I could write successfully.  I choose my subject matter based on my own personal experience.  All too often one reads books where the writer clearly hasn’t a clue about what he is writing about, particularly with my genre of military fiction.  I always have an overall idea of where I want to start and where I want to end.  My current series of books about the modern Royal Navy are following recent historical events, so I can use that as a template for the overall plot lines.  Even so I will have generated a fairly good storyline in my head long before I start to type.   And here I must give my definition of ‘writing’ and it has nothing to do with sitting at a keyboard.    I do most of it in the bath, walking the dog, just before going to sleep, even watching television. This is why I leave notebooks and pens around the house so I can jot ideas down when inspiration strikes before I forget them. So by the time I sit in front of the computer the key elements are already in my mind. That said, I often start a chapter and find that I’ve written something very different to that which I had originally envisaged.  I find that the key is to allow enough flexibility to change plot lines and characters but to keep the overall aims of the story in mind.

As regards research, I try to use my own personal experience as much as possible but do most research up front while developing the story plot line and then refer to it as I progress and if necessary look for supplementary information as the need arises.

2.       How do you continue your writing project?
I never, ever, force myself to write.  If I sit down and the words don’t come then I go and do something else.  That said, some days I will find that hours have passed and thousands of words have appeared from almost nowhere.  My overall schedule is to produce two books per year at about 1000 words a day but in reality one day it could be none and on others much more.  Also, I often write myself into a plot dead end and then there are two ways out.  One is to delete and start again. I try to avoid this.  Not the least because I hate to destroy hard work (especially mine).  On nearly every occasion I’ve successfully used the tactic of leaving the book alone and occupying myself elsewhere.  Almost without exception within a few days, inspiration strikes.  I guess my subconscious is working even when I am attempting to hit a golf ball (badly).  And of course I enjoy what I do.  When I start doing some general proofing I often find that I forget that I wrote the words at all and start getting into the story all over again.  This is of course a problem when looking for typos etc but gives me some confidence that the story is working out well.  Luckily I am now retired from mainstream employment so I can devote as much or as little time as I want to writing.   

3.       How do you finish your project?

As I said above, I always have the end game in mind, so it’s fairly simple to know when a story has concluded.  I write adventure novels and my sole aim is to get the reader to want to see what’s on the next page until the (hopefully) exciting conclusion.    Once it’s done, I let it go.  There is plenty of other work to be done. As a self published author I do all my own graphics and although I get help with proofing etc I do a fair bit myself as well.  In the past I have used professional services, especially for editing and frankly I’ve been less than impressed with the value for money.  That said, I do have a number of friends and relatives who are more than happy to offer criticism some of which I even listen to.  However, in the end it’s the people who buy the books who are my best critic.  When I tried the mainstream world I gave up after one less rejection than J K Rowling had.  I may not have been quite as successful as her but my sales and reviews must count for something.

I always have the plots for several books in my head these days.  It’s become easier as time goes by, I just wish there was the time to write them all…………..
4.       Include one challenge or additional tip that our collective communities could help with or benefit from.  

I write novels.  They are stories about things that never happened.  I think some authors forget that.  Whether its making up a fun little storyline for a children’s book or a massive complicated competitor to War and Peace, it’s still just a story.  I am an avid reader and always will be but now that I also write I find I am becoming more critical.  I’ve read some beautifully written rubbish and some badly written gems. The gems win every time.   So as a reader I would urge writers to concentrate on a damned good story above all else.

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