Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

My Book News & Advocate for the Writing Community ©

Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – My Writing Process

January 25, 2022
mandyevebarnett


Capital City Press, Clareview

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.

Photo by Olya Kobruseva on Pexels.com

Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – Podcast Interviews Galore (a little over exaggeration possibly) and Book & Movie Reviews

September 14, 2021
mandyevebarnett


Last week, I was rather popular with two podcast interviews. The first with A Hot Take on Thursday with Jenna Greene and Miranda Oh and then another with Alive After Reading with Tim Niederriter You can find the links here:

A Hot Take

Talking story locations and travel, current and past projects and everything in-between with lots of laughs thrown in.

Alive After Reading

Apologies for the barking dogs halfway through! An interesting chat covering writing inspirations, genre writing, incorporating personal interests into your writing and more.

I just finished My Ghosts by Mary Swan and loved the adeptly written internal dialogue of the characters.

Review: I enjoyed the inner character perspective of this narrative, it was written well with an excellent sense of place and time.

What are you reading? Can you share your last book review?

Movies I have recently watched include:

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8079248/ Yesterday – not only is the music superb obviously, it’s The Beatles after all, but the fact it was a new idea/plot.

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1661275/ Because it’s another British movie, there are scenes of England and you don’t expect the twists!

Can you recommend a movie? Why did you like it?

Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – How the Natural World Influences My Life and My Narratives

June 22, 2021
mandyevebarnett


My daughter asked me to find certain photographs for her recently. As I went though hundreds of photos (not the digital kind either!) in this large tea chest, that belonged my Mother, it was quite apparent that the numerous family day trips and vacations all had one common thread – nature and wildlife. We went to zoo’s, safari parks, wildlife parks, and even family walks ended up at farms or in fields and forests. This interest has been passed down from parent to child and grandchild. It is a family interest to this day.

My narratives reflect this fascination, even if a location is ‘off world’ there are always references to the natural inhabitants of that world. In Ockleberries to the Rescue, although there are magical woodland sprites caring for forest animals, it is based on Earth. Each chapter allows a child to learn about a specific animal or bird on Earth. These sketch’s by J.E. McKnight illustrate some of the chapter headers.

In Clickety Click there is a hidden world within our own and in Creature Hunt on Planet Toaria there are fantastical plants and animals of my imagination. The initial spark for the story behind Creature Hunt was a chance encounter with this enormous mullein plant on one of my road trips. As can see it was taller than me! You will have to read the book to find out what character it plays.

In The Twesome Loop, an Italian olive grove is a fundamental part of the story. Olive trees can grow for hundreds of years and their gnarly trunks give them character. The story is set between England and Italy, two places I love very much, having lived in one and visited the other.

I used my new found knowledge of my new home, Canada, for the setting of my novel, Life in Slake Patch, which has a prairie location. And The Commodore’s Gift has my protagonists living in a forest cavern, while I take my readers back to medieval England in The Rython Kingdom and Rython Legacy.

As you can see the settings for my stories are as much a character as the protagonists are. It allows my dear readers to imagine the surroundings and the flora and fauna. I personally love discovering the natural world, while letting nature relax and inspire me. There is always something new to learn and see from a bug to a bison, from a flower to a tree.

You can find my books here: https://www.amazon.ca/Mandy-Eve-Barnett/e/B01MDUAS0V/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_book_1

What have you discovered in the natural world? How does nature affect you?

Wordsmiths Collective Thursday – Numerous Writing Ideas – What to Choose Next

June 4, 2020
mandyevebarnett


close up of beer bottles on wood

Photo by Bruno Scramgnon on Pexels.com

Our creativity can be inspired from the smallest word, an overheard conversation or one we have had, an image, whether real or virtual, or even a globally known news worthy article.

What obscure stimulus has sparked an idea for you? 

As many of you know I am a free flow writer so apart from a vague idea where I want the story to go, it is a mystery to me. That is the thrill for me. It is an adventure I willingly travel with my characters. They lead and I follow with frantic typing. ‘Listening’ to my Muse enables me to create freely. It also means the story can change direction quite dramatically at times.

How do you approach new ideas? Frantic notes? Plot arc? Character descriptions?

No matter what system we use, an idea can grow exponentially once it takes hold. This is wonderful, of course, the only downfall being if we already have a bucketful of ideas already. It can be difficult to choose which one to go with first at times. I usually let several ideas ‘brew’ and the one that ‘shouts’ loudest is the one I start. It is not a fail safe method by any means but at least I have a direction.

However, an idea might be a segue to a previous secondary character that you can expand upon or it might be a natural follow up for one you have already written. Then you are in the realms of a series! This can determine your choice of which idea needs to be written first.

When you read through your ideas there might be a correlation between one or two and that could be the start of a new project. Keep your options open, let your Muse guide you.

Have you experienced a story unwilling to stay quiet?

How do you choose?

My novel, Life in Slake Patch was the result of a heated conversation regarding the patriarchal society we live in. I wanted to flip the status quo and have a young man’s perspective living in a matriarchal society.

blurb slake

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – Dreams into Stories

May 7, 2020
mandyevebarnett


Inspiration can strike us at any time from a vast array of sources. An overheard conversation, a scenic view, an image or a news report – the list goes on and on. One of the most frustrating but rewarding is dreams. They are elusive a lot of the time but if we can capture them somehow, they can become the marvelous start to a story idea.

In my current steampunk novel, The Commodore’s Gift, the initial scene is actually a dream sequence I experienced. It is a cloaked figure propelling out of a high window. When I woke up, I immediately wrote down everything I could remember of the scene. It was an older mansion house, an older time period and the person falling was a young female wearing a cloak. 

Writer Tip: Always keep a notebook and pen beside your bed.

Upon reflection of the dream, I was able to ascertain that the ‘place’ was actually very similar to my old school in England. Which was an Elizabethan mansion. When I was at school many of the rooms still had the original wooden paneling, large stone fireplaces and leaded-light windows. It is now a historic site and open to visitors. https://www.historichouses.org/houses/house-listing/shaw-house.html (images above)

As with most dreams their fleeting quality can make solidifying them difficult but with practice you can train yourself to remember them. A notebook is useful to have on hand but also try to keep within the dream for as long as you can before you become fully awake and your day starts. 

Here are a few tips to try:

Write, “I can remember my dreams” on a sticky note, place it somewhere you’ll see it before you go to sleep, and read the note aloud.

Go to bed at a regular time.

Practice 20 minutes of mediation prior to sleep.

What dream(s) resulted in a story idea for you? Please share in the comments.

 

 

 

 

 

Blog at WordPress.com.