I’ve picked up the baton to blog about my writing process from Charlotte Comley, my friend and fellow writer, who runs The Writers At Lovedean.
A day early, just because…
1. What am I working on?
I’m actually between projects. For the last few months, I’ve been focussing my efforts on editing and polishing. At the end of April, I finished and submitted a novella and a short story. Both are adult romances. One is a free read which will be published in an anthology as part of the ‘Love’s Landscapes’ event hosted by the M/M Romance Group on Goodreads.
This last week, I’ve done a lot of reading, both for pleasure and as a beta reader for other writer friends. I consider this as important as working on my own writing: learning from other writers, sharing the work, being connected.
Starting Tuesday, a new project begins—my first novel! I’ve been planning (in my head mostly) and thinking about this for months, so I’m actually very excited to finally start getting the words down.
The story is a paranormal/near-future sci-fi gay romance, set on Hayling Island (I may change the name for the novel), which is one of my local haunts. There will be plenty of action, some trauma and, needless to say, lots of love.
2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I don’t think it does. The romance genre has many sub-genres: sci-fi, fantasy, horror, thriller, period, contemporary, military … the list goes on and on. That holds true whether it’s gay or straight romance, or any other combination of individuals in a romantic relationship. This next time, I just so happen to be writing about two men falling in love.
Maybe when I have more work ‘out there’, I’ll be in the minority as far as romance writers go, as I don’t plan to stick to writing one type of ‘pairing’.
So far, I’ve written a novella where the romance is between a lesbian and a bisexual woman and a few short stories where the romances are between gay men. My first attempt at a novel (finally ditched as a lost cause year ago) was about a straight woman who learns how to thrive, including sexually, living alone after divorce. Thus far, I haven’t attempted to write about any polyamorous relationships. Which is not to say I won’t.
3. Why do I write what I do?
Love stories allow me to submerge myself in the rush and excitement of new love, then bask in all the ways the characters can work at making that love last. Exploring emotional and physical connection, particularly sexual connection, I suppose that’s what drives me.
I’m also a sucker for a happy ending, particularly if there’s heartache and obstacles to overcome in getting there. Romance with its pre-requisite happy-ever-after is such a blissful escape—cuddles and chocolate for the soul.
4. How does my writing process work?
Usually I spend a fair bit of time day-dreaming about my main characters before I write anything down, to see whether I fall in love with them enough to commit to a story. It’s rare for me to be struck with enough passionate inspiration to simply dive in.
If it’s a short story, I’ll get directly down to writing once I’ve formulated a rough idea in my head and maybe typed a few notes.
For longer stories, I’ll use a notebook and/or post-its (though I’m going to make better use of Scrivener for my next project) to make notes from anything to places and dates, to character traits or significant events. I use Pinterest boards for visual references, people and places mainly. I also have music playlists (that evolve with the characters and the story) for getting me in the right mood and for inspiration.
Once I have some sense of my characters, and their place and time, I get typing.
Usually, I research as and when I need to as I go along. Sometimes, if I need to do more, I’ll have lists of bookmarks that I can return to, or separate files of information.
I try to type linearly—start at the beginning and keep going until it’s done. That doesn’t always work. Actually, it rarely works. So I just keep typing because there’s always cut and paste. Or cut, cut, cut, DELETE.
I’m a lot less worried now than I used to be about hacking out thousands of words if they aren’t working.
When I get blocked I get on my cross-trainer, cut the grass or do a pile of ironing. Something mundane to let my mind go where it will. As I get more and more experience, I’m beginning to trust that if I let my mind go, it will eventually take me where it needs to. Often that isn’t anywhere near where I thought I was going in the beginning.
I am passing the baton onto the truly lovely Jenni Michaels. She’s a busy woman, not just with her own writing but in her tireless encouragement and support of fellow writers. So it just might be that she doesn’t write her blog piece next week, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t worth a follow.