Any Questions?

So, a couple of weeks back I celebrated six years of being an author. I’d been published, in other forms, for a couple of years before that, so I’ve been doing this writing thing for a fair old while. And while I wouldn’t suggest I was an expert, by any means, there is the slight possibility that, over the course of those years, I’ve learned some stuff. And, as I’m a generous kind of chap (honest!) I thought it might be cool, and useful, if I opened up the bog to questions from the floor.

So, is there anything you’d like to know? Post your questions in the comments below and I’ll answer them as best I can. For now, I’m planning on being available to give you those answers for a couple days but, depending on the response, I may extend it.

So, what would you like to know? Don’t be shy!

11 Comments on “Any Questions?

  1.  by  Paul Usowicz

    Hi, I’m writing a set of short stories that are all tied together by a supernatural event. The problem I have is that I really need the supernatural event to be known before the stories begin. Should I write a prologue or knuckle down and figure out how to introduce the event in the first story? Thanks, Paul.

    •  by  nikperring

      Hi Paul. Thanks for stopping by.

      What I think I’do do if this were my collection would be to decide whether it’s absolutely essential the actual event is known in order for the rest of the stories to work – if not then there’s nothing wrong with having a themed collection. If it is, yes, you could write a prologue but I think I’d be tempted to write it as a story instead and have it at the front, structuring the rest of the stories in a way that flows sensibly (almost like a novel in shorts).

      The other thing you might want to consider is something as simple as having the explanation (ie the event) as the title.

      Hope that helps!


  2.  by  Jen

    What’s your writing routine, Nik? I’m always intrigued to hear how other writers work. πŸ™‚

    •  by  nikperring

      Hiya Jen – lovely to see you here. I’m not sure I have a routine; it’s probably more of a process. I get up, shower, have tea and breakfast in front of my Mac while I’m doing emails and reading blogs and things. Then, when I’m more awake I start work – at the moment that’s more about editing.

      Then, I’ll write, and that’s the more rigid thing: write, longhand. Type it up (usually another day so it’s had chance to settle). Print it off and edit. Type up corrections. Print off again. Repeat until it’s absolutely done. Print off again. Read it aloud, making corrections. Type up. Read aloud and record and listen to it back. Make corrections. It can take forever! What’s yours?

      •  by  Jen

        Well, mine mainly consists of guilt-tripping myself πŸ˜‰

        I get up, have breakfast, check my emails/respond to them then, at the moment, write 300 words of ‘More Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops’, as the manuscript is due 1st December [eek]. Then I do a blog post if I’ve planned to do one.

        Once that’s done, I read over what I wrote of my novel the day before, let it mull over in my head, make some changes and make notes for what will happen next.

        After that I go to work, and run the bookshop for the day.

        When I come home, I [try to] write 500 words of the novel. Though that changes depending on any other deadlines I might have (at the moment I’m writing an article on children’s books).

        This sounds very well laid out on paper; in reality the plan often fails – but if it does it makes me feel bad and I make sure that I complete it properly the next day! x

  3.  by  Dan Purdue

    You might have explained this elsewhere, Nik, so apologies if I’m going over old ground. I’m interested in the story of how Not So Perfect came into being – was it a case of you reaching a point where you felt you’d had enough short stories published to gather a few of them into a collection, or were you invited to submit them, or something else?

    •  by  nikperring

      It was a bit of both, to be honest. Probably a combination of having the right number of the right stories together, and finding the right publisher for them. Not So Perfect is, basically, the best of what I’d spent three years writing.

      I don’t think I had a collection in mind when I was writing them. I just wrote, and wrote, and wrote, mostly what interested me. I suppose I was quite lucky in that there was a definite theme to them and that they fit together well (I hope!), but that wasn’t really by design!

  4.  by  Valerie

    Hi Nick, Can I ask about titles? Nuala Ni Chonchuir said in a recent interview that she knew in advance she wanted ‘Mother America’ as a title for a collection even before it was written. How did you choose the title ‘Not So Perfect’ for your book? Was it your favourite story or favourite title? Do you think a title needs necessarily to unify the whole collection in some way, or just pique a reader’s interest and draw them in?

    •  by  nikperring

      Hey Valerie

      That’s an interesting question. I don’t tend to think (worry?) about titles until the very last minute. For me, it’s the story, or the book that comes first and two out of the three of my books only got their final titles after they’d been accepted with Freaks! being the exception (which I think had more to do with it being a collaborative project).

      Not So Perfect is actually a line from one of the stories (you’ll have to see if you can spot it!). It does, I think, sum the collection up quite well. And it came about after many, many lists of possible titles and discussions with the publisher.

      And no, I don’t think titles HAVE to unify a collection but I do think it helps if they do. There are lots of XYZ And Other Stories collections out there and I don’t think it’s done them any harm.

      I have in the past tried to write stories to titles but they’ve tended not to be all that successful! I think it’s because, for me and the way I work, the title becomes more important than the story which is the wrong way round!

  5.  by  nikperring

    And Jen don’t even get me started on The Guilt! I don’t think that ever goes away. (I also notice how important tea is to the process. It’s writer fuel!) πŸ™‚

  6. Pingback: Nik Perring on writing Flash Fiction « Valerie Sirr

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