Thursday, 15 September 2011

HOW I WRITE NOVELS

A thousand humble apologies for not getting to my blog sooner but I always knew August was going to be a busy month with many family commitments scheduled and now complete. So, for me now, it's back to work...

Bearing in mind that I write both modern romances and historical fiction, my method of developing the stories for both is pretty much the same. Apart from the far deeper research needed for my historicals, there is always information needing to be sought for all of them. Depending on what topics I aim to include within the story, and, for the historicals, what era and setting I plan to cover.

I never have trouble thinking of story ideas. I have a number of romance trilogies planned and at least 10 historical novels, both Australian and Medieval England settings. They seem to spawn in my brain without much prompting. A writer's mind never sleeps, it seems.

Because I am a plotter and an organised person by nature, that is how I approach my novels. I usually start with a character and setting, develop that person's issues and delve into their background to expand the story line into scenes. There will always be a number of "must have" scenes and the story itself progresses around that. This is the thinking phase I'm not really keen on but it has to be done. Once completed, I usually stick to the scene order and my greatest joy always is in researching the background for whatever occupation or industry needs to be explored and revealed within the plot.

For example, my latest modern romance, WOMBAT CREEK, has alpacas raised by the heroine so it was heaps of fun trawling the internet and reading up on them, their breeding, their natures and how to care for them. I learnt heaps and found lots of firsthand reports that added to the reality of inclusion in my story.

In LOVING LUCY, my heroine works for UNICEF in Indonesia so I needed to do geographical research for the region where part of the novel was set. I love learning about the world. Any excuse to bone up on another country, really. Because Lucy had taken a girl under her care as a result of the tsunami that hit there some years ago, I refreshed my memory through research on the details and statistics of that event so I could slide them into the story.

As a reader, I love to learn about another country, another culture, some occupation or industry that I haven't personally had experience with that might interest or fascinate me for whatever reason.

So after all this wonderful reading, research and planning stage in the beginning, then comes the first draft. The "planting backside on chair" phase that absolutely demands discipline. I am always stunned by where the words come from but the characters dash about in my head and I just get their words and actions down on paper. My first draft is always done long hand and then typed into the laptop. Sounds tedious but my hand can keep up with my thinking brain - usually a steady plod - so it suits me fine.

Research for my historicals, of course, entails wide reading in my chosen era. For example, I am currently writing the first draft of the first novel in a series of six Australian sagas. I adore historical research reading and make copious notes on actual social life around the time period that usually fills more than one A4 Marbig folder. At the moment, whilst writing saga 1, I'm researching saga 2. And literally have stacks of research books piled up behind me on my bookshelf bench ready to be read through for the necessary research for each book as I get to it.

Always love to hear from my readers about what aspect of my books they might have particularly enjoyed. And fellow writers. How you write, what settings attract you and why. How you develop your own books.

Have a great writing day.