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Monday, 5 May 2014

The Writing Process

The talented Deborah Swift, author of last year's A Divided Inheritance, the third of her novels to date, has kindly invited me to join a blog hop on the writing process. You can find Deborah's musings on this subject on her blog

There are only four questions, which makes it all seem very simple, but as with all apparently simple exercises, this is deceptive, as some of my answers will show.

What am I working on?

The second of my Blitz Kid novels, about a teenage girl living through World War II, and also another adult novel I wrote last summer and am revising. 

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I suppose we all like to feel that we're different! I come across other dual-thread novels, going from contemporary to historical, so there's nothing new in what I do. I do have a fascination with the way in which World War II changed whole generations of families: not just the lives of those living through those times. Sad, dangerous or possibly exciting things that happened during such a time of struggle can well affect those living decades later, and that's what interests me. In my new book, The One I Was, a secret that a Kindertransport child carries with him to England in 1939 ripples on down through the years so that it becomes part of the story of a contemporary English nurse who's not related to him.

Why do I write what I do?

I suppose it's that fascination with how things are connected, about hard it is to untangle ourselves from the past and from our histories.

How does your writing process work?

I have a rough outline of what I'm going to do before I start--often in the form of a short synopsis or something more 'query'-like: a quick summary of what the book will actually be about, rather than what happens in it. I like to know where the conflict points will be before I start. I now use Scrivener, so that I can separate each chapter and play with their order in the novel. If I'm writing a novel with two threads, it's important to reveal information at the right time, so being able to shift scenes around easily is very useful. Once I have a draft I'm reasonably happy with, I'll ask a first reader to have a look. Then redraft based on their comments, and then perhaps ask someone else. Ideally then I'd lock the ms. up for a year and come back to it with a fresh eye, as distance allows you some objectivity.

I have daily set word targets, though if I'm in full writing mode I imagine I probably write at least a thousand words a day. I'm a great believer in not just putting down words for words' sake. It's better to try and work that out first and not force it. I often have breakthroughs when I'm driving or walking. A lot of the 'writing' happens in my head.

Next week, it is the turn of the critically acclaimed Nicole Hayes to tell us about her writing process. Nicole is a freelance writer, editor and teacher based in Melbourne. She has an MA in Creative Writing, which she teaches at the University of Melbourne and Phoenix Park Neighbourhood House. Her first novel, The Whole of My World, was published last year to critical acclaim, and is a dark young adult story of a girl's attempt to escape her grieving father and her own terrible secret by the medium of Aussie Rules Football. 


Deborah Swift said...

Really interesting post, and always great to read about other writers' processes. Off to tweet!

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