Hello and welcome to author Lynne Shelby, whose latest novel is called The One That I Want. She joins me today to talk about her writing process, from idea to editing. Over to you, Lynne.
An idea for a novel usually comes to me when I’m least expecting it. A sepia photo in an old family album, an overheard conversation on a train, a visit to a museum, have all inspired a story. Once I have that initial idea, I find that sooner or later my main characters appear in my head, demanding that their story be told. I only know the beginning and ending of my novel at this stage, so I make a few notes or at most a rough outline and then sit down at my laptop and start typing, introducing my hero to my heroine and seeing what happens – hopefully sparks will fly! There seems to be a moment when the main characters take over the plot, while minor characters have a habit of insisting on their own sub-plot – or even their own novel!
On a typical writing day, I aim to be at my desk in my writing room by 9.30. Before I begin writing, I read back over everything I wrote the day before to get back into the world of my story, and then, ideally, I write for about three hours, or maybe more, usually producing between 800 to 1,000 words – a couple of hundred of which will probably get deleted in the next draft!
In many ways, my actual writing process hasn’t changed a great deal since I started writing – it’s been more a case of my discovering which ‘tools of the trade’ work best for me as I write. When I was about three-quarters of the way through writing the book that was to become my first published novel, I went back and read it through from the beginning, making brief notes about the plot so far and a rough timescale over which the action was taking place. By then I had a clearer idea of where the story was going, and it was at that stage that I planned future chapters to make sure that the plot and sub-plots were tied up before the end of the book. When I wrote my second novel, The One That I Want, which was published in July 2018, I did much the same, except when I came to read through the manuscript, I decided to make a chart for each chapter with more notes about the events of the plot and each stage of my characters’ emotional journeys, and a detailed timeline. I found this made keeping the plot on track much easier when I came to the next draft, and I now do the same for each book I write.
The other way my writing process has evolved is that I edited my first novel as I wrote it, and also wrote the story in the order it would appear on the page. With my second novel, I edited far less while I was writing the first draft, and when I came to a scene that wasn’t working, I made bullet points for the main events that needed to happen, and went on to the next chapter – which meant I could see where the story was going far sooner.
Often when I’m writing, I get an idea about how an earlier chapter might be improved or a scene that might be added. With my first novel, I immediately went back and altered what I’d already written, but with The One That I Want, I jotted new ideas on a post-it note and added it in a later draft. By the time I came to write my third novel which is due to be published next year, the number of post-it notes had grown so that they spread from a noticeboard to all around the walls of my writing room.
Once I’ve written the first draft – which is a moment for a celebration – I leave it for a few days, and then begin editing, tightening the plot if it needs it, maybe writing new scenes, and reading dialogue aloud to make sure it’s realistic. I also check that any descriptions of real locations are accurate – The One That I Want is set in London’s West End, for example – and that no character’s eyes have changed colour half-way through the book! For me, the hardest part of editing is recognising when a passage I’ve written that I like isn’t right for a particular book, usually because it doesn’t advance the plot in any way, and knowing I have to delete it – or save it in a different file, as a scene that is wrong for one book can work well in another. There will be at least a second edit, probably several, but when I realise that I’ve changed ‘the’ to ‘a’ and back again, I know it’s time to stop editing and send the book out into the world. And start writing my next novel.
The idea for my current WIP came to me earlier this year when I was visiting the beautiful island of Santorini, and I knew that I simply had to write a story set in Greece. My heroine has met my hero and is unimpressed. My hero is already taking over the plot – he was supposed to be enigmatic, but he’s being very arrogant. I don’t know what’s going to happen when the two of them arrive on a Greek island, but I’m going to have a lot of fun finding out!
About The One That I Want:
When Lucy Ashford lands a top job at a leading theatrical agency in London, work mixes with pleasure, as she literally falls into the arms of Hollywood heartthrob Daniel Miller. Handsome, charming and irresistible, Daniel is just what unlucky-in-love Lucy needs, and she is quickly drawn into his glittering celebrity lifestyle. But can she tame the A-list bad boy or is she just one more girl in Daniel’s long line of conquests? And then there’s up-and-coming actor Owen Somers, fiercely talented but as yet uncast in a starring role. After she takes him onto the agency s books, Owen and Lucy’s friendship slowly grows. If she looks closely, Lucy’s leading man might be right before her very eyes…
Lynne Shelby writes women’s contemporary fiction/romance. Her previous novel, French Kissing was released in 2015. Her latest novel, The One That I Want, was published in July 2018.
The One That I Want is published by Accent Press and is available to buy now. Click to view on Amazon.co.uk