I often receive questions from readers relating to all aspects of creating a novel from a blank page and bringing it to publication, so from time to time I'll post one of these questions, and my reply, on this blog. If you have a question for me, whether relating to the writing process, or about any of my books, their characters, plotlines or anything else, please send them to me through the blog post comments or through my Contact page here. While I can't promise to respond immediately - I have a file full of book drafts to fill out into novels - I do promise to respond.
How do write your novels? Are you disciplined, with a clear outline, or more go with the flow?
Definitely go with the flow. If an idea comes to me, I scribble it down and let it percolate, sometimes for a few hours, other times it can take weeks or even months until I get a clear idea of how the first chapter will go. When I say the first chapter, I don’t mean chapter 1, it could be (and usually is) one that will come much later in the story. Then I start writing – notebook and pencil, I’ve never mastered the creative writing process on a keyboard – and allow the words to flow out in a stream of consciousness. Sometimes I get down a few hundred words before the flow eases, often it’s several thousand. I rarely know what is going to appear until it does. I don’t write the stories, they write themselves, and it’s often a surprise to see where they lead.
Next stage is to put the scribbled words (part sentences, sentences taking up a full side of notepaper, odd words) into a legible story. I take the raw material and use my writing skills to mould it into the end product; it usually takes at least two further edits before it makes real sense. It’s the lengthy part of the process and one I thoroughly enjoy. I have frequently said that it’s painting with words. Give me a paintbrush and canvas and I suck. Give me a pen and paper and I’ll paint you a stunning picture.
Ask me your question in the Comments box. I can't promise to reply immediately, but I can promise to reply