The very lovely Faye L Booth tagged me, sending me this list of questions to answer.
So here they are…
1. Do you outline?
Yes, a little. It really depends on the story I’m writing. Mostly I like to have an idea where I’m heading and let the journey unfold as I write. I’ve found in the past that if I outline too much the story can end up sounding quite flat.
2. Do you write straight through a book, or do you sometimes tackle the scenes out of order?
I tend to write everything chronologically (which probably has something to do with not outlining). Things make more sense to me that way; more cohesive and natural.
3. Do you prefer writing with a pen or using a computer?
Pretty much always straight onto a computer. There are plenty of reasons for this, but the main two which come to mind now are: it’s easier to change things and the text on the screen is far easier to read than my handwriting. I do like to write poetry by hand though.
4. Do you prefer writing in first person or third?
Depends on the story. Some suit the first some the third. You have to do what’s right for the story, I think. Mostly it’s third though.
5. Do you listen to music while you write? If so, do you create a playlist, listen randomly, or pick a single song that fits the book?
Never. I’m quite easily distracted so anything like that, I try to eliminate. I’ve found as well that if I do listen to music then it can influence the feel of what I’m writing, which is very bad. It’s all about the story.
6. How do you come up with the perfect names for your characters?
Either by trial and error or gut feeling.
7. When you’re writing, do you ever imagine your book as a television show or movie?
Nope. I don’t see why I’d want to do that. Even if, in the unlikely event, something I wrote was adapted for TV or film, it would turn into something quite different; something separate from the book – somebody else’s vision and job.
I think it’s much more useful to concentrate on the story. Anything else would just get in the way.
That said, I must admit to having the occasional who’d play such and such conversation with my girlfriend.
8. Have you ever had a character insist on doing something you really didn’t want him/her to do?
I don’t think so. A character does what they’re supposed to, what’s natural for them to do. If you know them well, which you should, then you pretty much know how they’ll react to things and what they’ll naturally do. Besides, being the writer, it’s me who’s in charge!
9. Do you know how a book is going to end when you start it?
Pretty much. I prefer to work from interesting beginnings and see how characters react to being put in circumstances and situations they’re not comfortable with.
10. Where do you write?
In my office.
11. What do you do when you get writer’s block?
I usually try to write myself out of it. I’ve found that writer’s block tends arise when the story’s not been told right. So it’s usually a case of going through what I’ve written and identifying the point at which the story stopped working. Then I change it and make it work, and hey presto, the block’s gone. Actually the last time this happened was when I was writing a novel I’ve just finished a second draft for. I had written about 9000 words when things stopped working. I identified where and why things had gone wrong and ended up cutting everything from about 3000 words in. And the first chapter. So I went from 9000 to 2000 in one go and the story was far better for it.
12. What size increments do you write in (either in terms of wordcount, or as a percentage of the book as a whole)?
As much as I can. It really depends. When I’m not out running workshops or visiting schools I’m in the office all day. I’d guess that I average at around 800 words per day. Ish. Thursday and Friday last week were spent working on a new story and in those two days I managed 6000 words. It can vary A LOT.
13. How many different drafts did you write for your last project?
Fourteen I think.
14. Have you ever changed a character’s name midway through a draft?
Once I think. From Meg to Meagan. And I’d do it again if it benefited the story.
15. Do you let anyone read your book while you’re working on it, or do you wait until you’ve completed a draft before letting someone else see it?
My girlfriend will read things as I write them and gives me really great feedback. I’m also a member of a writing site [www.writewords.org.uk] and I’ll post stuff there every now and again.
16. What do you do to celebrate when you finish a draft?
A nice meal with my girlfriend and a few beers.
17. One project at a time, or multiple projects at once?
I’ll concentrate on one at a time but I’ll have a few at various stages of completion on the go. Knowing what I’ll be doing next is a great motivator and reassuring.
18. Do your books grow or shrink in revision?
Depends on the story. If it needs to grow it’ll grow, and if it needs to shrink it’ll shrink. If something needs clarification then I’ll put more in. If there’s something there that doesn’t need to be there then it gets cut.
My High School English teacher told me that ‘good writing is apt writing.’ I still believe him.
19. Do you have any writing or critique partners?
No I don’t, aside from my girlfriend and the occasional member of ww (thank you Caroline).
20. Do you prefer drafting or revising?
Both at different times. They can both be really good fun and rewarding, and they can both be very hard work. They’ve both got to be done though, and done well.