As writers, we are used to being asked why do we write. Our answers are as diverse as we are as individuals and the many genres we write. There is no catch all answer, our reasons are as many as there are stories. No matter if there are similarities in upbringing, location, class, education or a plethora of other influences, how we perceive our world, and the experiences we encounter on our life’s path, make us unique. Therefore, our stories are unique to us. How we tell them, creative them, construct them is ours alone.
So, I will endeavour to answer that question in my own unique way. And hopefully, it will give you an insight into my creativity.
I write because I enjoy creating imaginary worlds, its characters and their stories. To weave a story around characters that I have conjured up in my mind, gives me not only satisfaction but also allows me to be creative. It is a kind of escape really. I become immersed in another world, where everything is possible through my fingertips. As a naturally creative person, who has tried many forms of creative expression, writing has given me the ultimate power. I am omnipotent. I can place characters in different eras, on other planets, in magical kingdoms – wherever I want. After saying that, a lot of my characters do dictate their story lines and propel me into new unexpected directions on occasion. This is part of the enjoyment and magic of writing. I hope to continue writing for as long as I can see and type and even then, maybe I can utilize modern technology to continue!
To another commonly asked question: what do I really want, my answer is – I want my stories to be my legacy. To be read and enjoyed for future generations and hopefully give a glimpse into my personality when I am gone. Instead of just the ‘dash’ on the gravestone there will be a pile of books to note my contribution to literature. It is a way of paying it forward into the future.
One of the main questions I am asked is how do I write and what is my process. It may seem like a simple question, but it results in a complex answer that maybe wasn’t expected. Every writer has their own process, but it is normally split between writer called a panster (free flow) or plotter. A plotter has note cards, sticky notes, a story board, or some other framework they utilize to plot and plan the narrative. The panster (free flow writer) does not use any method, although, they may jot down some notes, such as character names and relationships, settings and continuity points as they write.
I am a free flow writer and always have been (until recently, I’ll get to that shortly). I tried to use the ‘romance format’ once, which resulted in the one and only time I had writer’s block, so never again! I will try to explain as best I can my process here, so here goes.
When an idea forms in my mind resulting from a prompt, an overheard conversation, a life experience, a photo or object, a dream or something else, I either let it brew in my mind to see if it will gather momentum or it propels me into writing several paragraphs. Gradually characters form, a setting materializes, and an initial story emerges, whether I ponder or write the idea. There is no specific plot or storyarc at this point, just the first instance of the narrative.
As the idea takes hold of my imagination, I allow the story to tell itself, sounds weird, I know, but it really does flow from mind to fingertip. I find it’s best not to force the narrative, but let it take its own pace. On multiple occasions I have thought the story will go in one direction only for it to go in a completely random direction. This for me is the fun of writing not fully knowing where the characters will lead me. As I write, the story plays like a movie in my head, I ‘see’ the settings, the characters, their lives and just like a movie have no idea what will happen. I do, however, become familiar with my characters, their backstory, motivations and personalities.
Some may say my writing process is actually ‘automatic writing’ but it is not, I do have ultimate control over the narrative adding my viewpoints for upcoming scenes and character development – I just don’t force or coerce my Muse, but allow the flow to come. I hope that makes some kind of sense, as I said it is difficult to explain the inner workings of a writers mind.
As I mentioned earlier, I usually write free flow, that changed when the idea for my detective trilogy, The Delphic Murders came to me. The initial idea was like a lightning bolt – three female detectives, three Canadian cities and their murder investigations. I even came up with the three separate book titles in quick session. An Elusive Trail (Book 1), The Tainted Search (Book 2) & Killers Match (Book 3). This resulted in my having to plan each book for timeline, character descriptions, plot arcs and the relationships within each book. This was a new technique for me and I was able to gather information on how to do it properly from various sources. I found a new skill to add to my writing repertoire!
Do you have a question for me about my writing technique, or how I develop an idea? I am more than happy to answer your queries.
As writers we are constantly second guessing our writing. Is it descriptive enough without too much exposition? Is that character’s personality clear? Does my action scene work? Are my character’s developing? There are many and varied queries as we write. To enable us to grow as writers, we need constructive critique from people we trust.
Here is a list of who you should ask:
Experienced editors and writers.
2. A writer in your niche.
3. Someone who has read your work before.
4. Your writing group.
When asking for feedback be specific in what you are asking, rather than say “let me know what you think.”
Here are a couple of examples of questions to ask:
Do you get a clear idea of the genre?
Can you relate to the characters?
Do you understand their motivations?
Does it have a good beginning/ending?
With specific scenes name it and then ask a question in relation to it.
Does the story flow?
Were the characters reactions to situations believable?
Was the story predicable?
What surprised you?
Which part was your favorite?
Remember feedback should be taken as constructive critique. You may not agree on their viewpoint, but use it to see your work in a different light/perspective. It is your work and you tell it the way you want.
I finished Eeny Meeny in record time, it was one of those books you couldn’t put down. Hence my review:
Absolutely riveting! I didn’t see the culprit coming. Well written and structured. A fast paced, who done it. A real page turner.
I have moved onto another detective book, to continue my detective/crime research. It is The Secret Place by Tana French. Her style is completely different to M.J. Arlidge that’s for sure.
As always I still have a good pile of books on my TBR pile as you can see above. I’m unsure which one I will choose when I finish Tana’s novel.
Do you have a system to your TBR pile? Is it alphabetically, by genre or just what catches your eye first? Or do you lay them out, mixed them up and pick one, making it a surprise?
I would love to know your method.
In the meantime, at the time of writing, I am almost at the NaNoWriMo goal of 50,000 words. As I write this morning, I am at a tantalizing word count of 48352, so today I will reach the goal but certainly not the end of the novel. That will take at least another 20,000 words.
Please feel free to ask me about my novels, my writing process, how I create my imaginary worlds and characters. Or anything regarding the books of mine you have read. I am always happy to answer questions.
You have no doubt seen numerous authors sharing their books all across social media sites and readings from favorite books recorded for children in the last few weeks of social distancing. This sharing is the writing communities way of bringing some comfort to everyone isolated during this time. We have the ability to ‘connect’ remotely, which is a blessing during this time of COVID-19.
As we all know information is the new currency, and reading is the best source of continuous learning, knowledge and acquiring more of that currency. However, reading has many other benefits, you may not realize.
It puts your brain to work as it uses various parts to work together, in essence reading is exercise for your brain. It becomes active allowing growth, change and the making of new connections and different patterns. While reading we can roam the expanse of space, time, history, or discover deeper views of ideas, concepts, emotions, and our body of knowledge. Reading increases ‘fluid intelligence” which is the ability to solve problems, understand things and detect meaningful patterns. Other benefits of reading are an increase in attention span, focus and concentration. reading is in fact a multifaceted exercise.
Fictional narratives, allow us to imagine an event, a situation, numerous characters, and details of an imagined story. It is a total immersion process. It has been proved that reading literary fiction enhances the ability to detect and understand other people’s emotions, a crucial skill in navigating complex social relationships. So the more you read the better you become within your own mind and for those around us. So get reading!
Everyone please take care, stay well and safe.
If you are looking for a new read please take a look at my books. I have narratives for children, young adult and adult so something for all the family. As always if you have any questions about any of the books please comment below and I will answer.