My Writing Process
Kate Hardy was kind enough to invite me to participate in a My Writing Process Blog Tour which takes part on writers’ blogs every Monday and gives readers a chance to find out how writers come up with their ideas.
Kate gave us a fascinating peek into her process last Monday and today it’s my turn, along with the lovely Harlequin author Donna Alward.
How Does My Writing Process Work?
Um. Now that IS a good question.
Most of the time my ideas come from a situation I have experienced or read about or seen in a movie and then my mind plays around with characters and their backstories and plays the ‘What-If’ game until I have an idea which could work.
Usually the idea is linked to something I am interested in finding more about, or a subject which I find fun and entertaining.
It is no coincidence that many of my books involve food and drink. Cooking is my hobby and I have studied wine making in the past. So many of the rituals we associate with romance are linked to the sensual aspects of food and drink, that combining these elements into my stories comes naturally to me.
As an example. In my February Harlequin Kiss book, Trouble on her Doorstep, the idea came from popping into a small tea room and cake shop when I was in north London one day. It was small and charming and packed full of a wide range of customers.
And there was a huge range of tea which I adore and delicious homemade cakes and scones.
So I played the ‘What-if’ game.
What if the heroine of this book was a tea importer who has opened a tea room and cake shop with her best friend who is the star baker? What kind of person would she be? What does she want in life? Besides the tea.
Then we have the most indulgent treat – coming up with the hero who is worthy of her and give him a character arc which his relationship with my lovely tea fanatic will instigate.
The follow up book – The Secret Ingredient – is all about her baker in the tea shop.
Did I mention that I love food and drink?
What happens next when I have the bones of an idea?
I am a scientist and academic by trade and a shameless Geek Extraordinaire. Swot and proud.
So it will come as no surprise to you that I like to use tables and checklists and question sheets to plan my story.
Who are these people? Why are they at the end of their tether when the story starts? How have they come to this place in their lives and what baggage are they carrying because of that?
When I submit my proposal to my editor at Mills and Boon or Carina UK I know the characters and their situation pretty well and what kind of rocks I am going to throw at my hero and heroine to stop them from being together before they can earn their happy ever after.
I have to know how I want the hero and heroine to change over
the course of this story as a result of their relationship so that the emotional story structure makes sense and tracks through in a consistent way.
Some of my heroines have more baggage than Victoria Beckham on a trip to Vegas but by the end it will work out.
I made the mistake of showing one of my proposals to an author friend once. She ran away in terror. That is why every author is unique and has their own process.
I think of these outlines and character arc charts as being equivalent to an architect’s plan. They set the foundations and floor plan for the story world and lays out where the walls are going to be. Four walls and a roof.
But every home owner knows that the real fun comes when you get inside and start the real work on making that basic shell of a building into a home.
And the characters DO surprise me and come up with emotional conflicts which move the storyline away from my original plan.
Like Kate, I plan my working schedule so that I know my target word count each week with extra time at the end for polishing and editing. I do tend to find that I am deleting more words than I am saving at the start, but by the end I am usually working early and late to commit to paper all of the ideas which the characters are feeding me. I want them to get together as much as they do!
What I’m Working On
Right now I am working on something seriously so new and exciting and different that it is scary.
I have decided to self publish a single title length Action Adventure Romantic Suspense!
It is completely different from my contemporary romance with more characters, an exotic location on a Greek island and featuring a kick-ass Lara Croft style heroine who is not going to take any nonsense from the handsome single father police chief who she had to work with.
So overall this book is way outside my comfort zone – and I am loving it.
The one common attribute is my writing voice – that is still the same.
Look out for more information coming soon!
How does my work differ from others in its genre?
I write contemporary romance with a quirky, witty twist which is heavy on dialogue and banter and light on the sex scenes.
Why Do I Write What I Write?
Because I want to write the kind of books I liked to read.
I want to be entertained and amused and have a positive empowering emotional experience through the pages of a book.
Every one of my heroines is a match for the hero and holds her own. But in the end it is when both the hero and the heroine take off the masks we all wear and recognise that they love the real person and wants them to be part of their life.
Writing fiction is a privilege and we are all part of a tough economic situation where discretionary spending is tight. Plus, there are so many multimedia ways that we can be entertained these days that choosing to read for pleasure can be a low priority.
If a reader invests her hard earned money for one of my books in any format then I want that reader to put down the book/e-Book reader with a smile on her face.
That is what it is all about.
Thank you for sharing my writing process! I hope that you found it interesting.
[I hope you will allow me NOT to tag other authors since I know that we are all working hard!]