Nah, in case you’re wondering—this isn’t a heavy post about how writing has evolved over the centuries, and I promise not to start spouting my knowledge (or lack of) of the history of authors and their styles.
This is merely an acknowledgement of how I’ve changed as a writer. As in, learned to adapt.
It’s not uncommon for aspiring writers to approach authors and ask: I want to write a book, how do I start? How do I write it? I have an idea in my head but don’t know how to get it out?
Other than the most common answer of: Well, how about you just start writing and see where it goes, kind of answer, I’m slowly coming to realise that you can’t give a more in depth answer, because it’s simply just not that cut and dry.
Now, before I get a tonne of hate about not mentioning the art of sentence crafting, and maintaining consistency in POV’s and tense, and impossible action sentences, and avoiding big fat plot holes, or the sensible-ness of plotting, this post isn’t about those. It’s about writing. Just writing. Mine, in particular.
You see, when I wrote my very first novel (no, you won’t ever get to read it—for good reason), I was incredibly anal about how I wrote. I didn’t even open up my PC (I had a desktop then). I opened the first pad I grabbed, picked up a pen, tapped the lidded end against my teeth a few times whilst staring at the ceiling … and then started to write. My entire first novel was written completely by hand … and then I proceeded to type it all up. For my second novel, which happened to be a sequel to my first (incredibly bad) novel, I did pretty much exactly the same, except I would pause to type up what I had in slightly shorter spurts before writing on again. I broke the mould a little for my third novel, which was a twequel to make my two books into a trilogy, and mixed it up between scribbling in my pad to typing it up, which then led to me continuing to type even once I ran out of stuff to type up, until I switched off for the night, and the next morning I would begin this way all over again.
And then I reached the point of writing Darkness & Light. Darkness & Light was almost completely written in MS Word. Like my head had finally figured out that it was a much quicker way of writing—Eureka!—and trust me when I say my head felt like it would explode if I didn’t get D&L out of my head as fast as freaking possible. Same for Blue Moon. Same for Instinct. For Eternal. For Marked.
Then I wrote Caged, and for the first time ever, my head that insisted on remaining organised in my writing (which sounds like an oxymoron for a self-confessed panster) realised that I wasn’t going to reach the end for a very long time if I kept stopping to concentrate on cliff-hangers for every chapter and organising what had to be grouped with what. So, from around the 65k-word-count onward, I just wrote. Wrote without worrying about chapters. Or cliff-hangers. Sure, scene breaks were added where necessary (let me just point out that scene breaks aren’t necessarily the best place to end/start a chapter), but no chapters. And though it felt somewhat odd, it also felt kind of liberating. And, oddly enough, once I had all the words out that stressing about overall structure was stalling from falling out my brain, chapterising the last 30-ishK was a cinch.
All of those titles mentioned above have one thing in common, though. They were all written in a linear fashion. I started at the beginning and I didn’t stop writing until I reached the end. One scene after another. All in the right order. I’d always written this way.
Until I wrote Unnatural. Unnatural is where I veered much farther off my usual style than before. Because Unnatural is the first book I’ve written where I’d get snippets from later scenes pop into my head, and as much as I tried to ignore them until it was their time, I just couldn’t—which resulted in me sticking in a load of seemingly random and unrelated scenes, one after the other, all lined up in a (correctly timeline ordered) row, just waiting for me to reach them and unite them with the rest. Some might say this was a weird attempt at plotting, but I’m going to skim over that thought and ignore it … Anyway, this was the first time my muse had behaved so outrageously. But I listened to him. Because, on occasion, he makes sense. And, surprisingly, as I reached each of those scenes, very little even had to be changed in them. My head had somehow managed to get them right despite not having reached them yet.
And the outcome of such frivolities? I think Unnatural might just be my favourite Holloway Pack title to date.
And now, I’m writing my non-HP novel, and it’s as I’m writing this that I’ve paused to consider how much my once-strict writing method has altered. Because on Tuesday night whilst laying in bed, instead of switching off for sleep, my brain was kept awake by my muse sticking scenes in my head. Scenes for GRASP. Not scenes that would follow on from the opening chapters I’ve already written, though. Noooo, that’d be too easy. The scenes that swirled around and around and around were the last few chapters leading up to The End. Stupid head. But, as I’m learning to be more compliant and less … stiff in my ways, when I woke the next morning, I opened the WIP document, and instead of heading to where I should have been adding wordage to next, I skipped right past the lot of it … and I started writing.
I’d only intended to stick in a few rough notes for each chapter. Just enough to inform myself, for once I reached there, of the content I wanted it to include, little character conversations my head had managed to store through sleep, prompt for where I wanted each chapter to go. Only trouble with that, though? Once I started in on those rough notes, my fingers disobeyed me and obeyed the muse and started turning those rough notes into actual scenes, almost clean, almost complete, from start to finish … and over 3k words and 4 hours later, I had ALL of my ending scenes, bar the very final one, already written and ready to mould into something more readable.
And I was like, Dude! Occasionally, a writer will hit that mode. The one where they’re barely aware of what they’re writing, because their brain and tapping fingers zone into some kind of weird autopilot, and it’s only when they pause that they realise how much they’ve written, and what they’ve written … it doesn’t happen this way for me very often. When it does, it’s something kind of special. Maybe I need to quit being so much of a perfectionist on first run. Maybe I need to just let myself go a little more. Because my writing session on Wednesday felt all kinds of awesome. All kinds of awesome mixed with all kinds of liberating.
Or maybe it’s just that this is the right way for me to write this particular story. Because, like I already said: how to get your words written ain’t written in stone.
(sorry about the uber long post)
P.S. There’s still time to win a Holloway Pack book of choice HERE!
P.P.S. Caged is still up for Goodreads giveaway HERE!
Thanks for stopping by.