Tag Archives: writing process

The Write Stuff in Dundee

After a winter when not much was achieved, I hoped to kickstart my creativity by booking myself on to The Write Stuff, an afternoon about writing and publishing arranged by Literary Dundee at the university there.  There were around 150 people in attendance; many of them students, as Dundee runs an M Litt in Writing Practice and Study.

Three of their recent graduates were there. Oliver Landmead, Claire MacLeary and Sandra Ireland all read extracts from their works. They all said that reading work aloud was key; initial discomfort at reading to fellow students was excellent training for doing readings from their books at festivals, and reading your work out loud to yourself could make you aware of areas needing improvement. Claire added a query letter should have three paragraphs; what it’s about, whom it will appeal to, and a little about yourself. Jenny Niven spoke about her career organising literary festivals, which has taken her all over the world, ending back at the Edinburgh International Book Festival.

David Stenhouse’s talk about the BBC and the written word was fascinating; I hadn’t thought before of how much work it would be to fill all those hours of radio. As he said, if you can be an answer to someone else’s problems, you’re halfway there already. 404Ink were inspiring; their story of how ‘Nasty Women’ came to be published showed just how much they were willing to take on to make it and their publishing venture a success. The last two speakers were Laura Waddell, a writer and children’s publishing manager, and Claire Wingfield, a literary consultant and editor. Both had some great advice and suggestions which I need to follow up on.

There’s going to be another Write Stuff event next year. Would I go? Absolutely. At £3, the tickets were a bargain and the goodie bag was great!

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My Writing Process Blog Tour

old handwritingNo, don’t worry – that isn’t what my actual writing looks like; although it’s not far off…

For my first post, I’ve been invited by Linda Chamberlain to take part in this blog tour – thanks Linda! Linda loves horses, and loves finding ways to work them into her writing. You can find out more about her on her blog http://nakedhorse.wordpress.com/

So, here are the questions I need to answer:

1. What am I working on?

I’m editing my first novel, a regency romance which I hope will prove to be both witty and entertaining. It’s a traditional, sweet story, about an impetuous girl called Sophie, who is trying to save her family from ruin, and a rake who isn’t as black as her paints himself. The provisional title is ‘Monopoly in Mayfair’, although I’m still waiting to hear if my publisher Safkhet will want to use that title when they publish it next year.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Any writer’s work should differ from others in its genre; it’s a matter of “voice”.

Anyone who describes a scene, or an incident, will do so differently, using the words and phrasing they prefer. Everyone’s voice is unique, even for those people who don’t think of themselves as writers. I enjoy humour in the use of words, probably because one of my early literary loves was P G Wodehouse. And recently, several people have used the word ‘charming’ to describe my writing, which is a lovely thing to be told.

3. Why do I write what I do?

In part, I write historicals because it would honestly be too much work to write contemporary romance! I don’t drink coffee, so I’ve never had to learn the whole coffee-ordering language which abounds these days, and much of technology is still a mystery to me. If I asked ‘How do the moving pictures get into the big black box in the corner?’ and was told ‘Magic,’ I’d be quite happy to accept that as an explanation. And in a culture nowadays, when everything seems to be getting faster and faster, the idea of taking an hour or so to pen a letter to a friend is very appealing. Not to mention the frocks…!

4. How does my writing process work?

It doesn’t. I mean, I don’t really have one. I just set out to write about 500 words a day, and see what happens. I’d love to have a big wall chart, with coloured post-it notes, and feel in control of the process, but that has yet to happen. But sometimes the gentle art of serendipity kicks in. At one point in ‘Monopoly in Mayfair’ my rakish hero remarks that he doesn’t want to see another mother made homeless. I had no idea where that came from, and had to spend quite a while working out whose mother he could have been talking about, but it ended up making a much richer plot strand. I’d love to have a full, completely worked-out plan written down before I start, but so far I’ve never managed it.

Emma Bridgewater notebookSo – what’s your writing process? Or, if you’re not a writer, how do you keep your life organized? Have you given up pen and paper in favour of smartphones, or are you sticking faithfully to your old diary, which hasn’t let you down yet? I have this pretty A5 hardback notebook by Emma Bridgewater to give away to one commentator, and I’ll draw the winner’s name at the end of May.

 

Allis