I’ve been told that you guys want to know a bit more about, as a person, as an author, as a lover of books. 😀 I thought talking about my writing process would be a nice place to start.
My writing process is messy, colourful, and fueled by caffeine and alcohol.
My ideas all start with an image. I’m a very image-driven, image orientated person. Every story starts with a character in an opening scene, it plays out in my head. I then sit quietly and allow it to play out while poking at it. I ask myself and the image question, what is this world? What are you doing? From there I assess how much staying power it has. Does the image go further? Or does it stall out?
If the image goes further, if there’s more to it than a simple opening scene, I start jotting down notes. That’s where my planning book comes in. I’ve been using my planning book since I started this whole writing books things. So that’s probably eight years now. This planning book has traveled all around England and Scotland with me, and now it’s come to Prague too.
Every book has a different aesthetic to the planning process and notes. The only thing they have in common is colour, as much colour as I can squeeze in there. I need colour. My brain refuses to function properly without it. There’s very rarely any organisation there, it’s colour for the sake of colour. It’s beautiful, wonderful, chaos.
Below you’ll find pictures from my planning book, I flipped to pages at random. Some images have been partially blurred to protect from spoilers.
The notes that are unblurred are old ideas that will remain in the state they’re in, so they can be out there in all of their messy glory.
The type of notes I make tend to focus on the characters. I’m very character and psychology focused, I love getting into their heads and seeing what makes them tick. The Infernal Hunt series is a little different, it’s the first where I’ve really tried to put more focus into the plot.
So those colourful bits, and those post-its will have notes about the characters appearance, their history, their goals, their flaws. I jot down whatever pops into my head. Once I have enough I move into notes on the world and the plot. Everything’s quick sentences, bullet points, and half-formed notions.
At this point I have a pretty good image in my mind of the book as a whole. It’s hard to explain, but it’s a big image. Each book has a different shape and feel. Infernal Alliances is this sprawling, tangled, knot of black, red, and orange. Infernal Bonds is this ball of indigo and black with fire crawling over some of it.
This is when I start writing. I’m usually a linear writer, I have my opening image and I run with it. Again, every book is different. Some I pants. Some I outline intensely. Some are somewhere inbetween.
The actual writing is fueled by caffeine and alcohol, sometimes together. When I’m writing I always have a pint of water close at hand (I don’t want to get dehydrated, that slows the brain down), and either a cup of coffee, tea, or a well drink. I like my coffee strong, my tea white, and my alcohol is usually a vodka and something, cranberry and Mountain Dew (separately) being the two usuals. If I’m getting stuck on something I’m more likely to have alcohol as that helps me relax and unwind whatever knot has formed. If I’m pushing on then I’ll have lots of caffeine. If it’s a bit of both, I’ll have Mountain Dew and vodka – the best of both worlds.
When I’m relaxing at the end of the draft I switch over to scotch (or whisky) and absinthe. I adore Clandestine absinthe, a beautiful Swiss blue absinthe, and Edradour is my favourite scotch. Although Macallan and Yoichi are close behind.
Ahem. As I was saying! I rarely start writing with an outline. I usually get the opening scene down, the one that started everything. I’ll write as much as I can before I start considering the plotting and planning thing.
Infernal Alliances was originally really intensely outlined, but the outline freaked me out so I went back to pantsing. I then realised OMG this could potentially be the last book in the series I need an outline! So I’ve jotted down sentence fragments on key scenes and keep the rest in my head. This one is also being written non-linearly. I’m using a progress bar to help me keep track of how many words need to go where.
Each colour represents a different mini-story, arc, focus, thing. The skinny lines are single scenes that wouldn’t leave me alone so got written.
Each day when I sit down to write I feel out which focus-arc-thing I want to start with, be that the green section, the purple section, whatever. Then I write as many scenes and chapters as I can from there. When I started to get tired, I flip over to another section and write some more from there. I have the entire book and the required plot points in my head so I’m not too too worried about patching this together. That being said, it’s still a jigsaw and the gymnastics hurt my brain a little bit lol.
I have very little patience, and I type quickly, so I expect a first draft to take me about a month. I start getting antsy and want it wrapped up after about two weeks (which is where I’m at with Infernal Alliances). The beginning tends to be written reasonably quickly because it’s so exciting and shiny and squee! Then the ending is written quickly because omg it’s the end and yay! The middle however is sticky, and gloopy, and full of plot points, and threads, and oh my head. lol
On a day to day basis, my fiction writing comes last. It sounds awful, but I’m a freelance developmental author and that’s what pays my bills. I’ll probably do a post on a day in the life of well, me, but in brief – I wrap up work for the day then if I have the energy the inspiration I sit and write as much as I can. 🙂 If there’s no inspiration, then there’s no writing.
There we have it! My writing process in its colourful chaotic wonderfulness 😀
What does your writing process look like? I need to know! Share pictures of your planning notebooks and such!