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.by
Lynne Shelby is the author of French Kissing (released by Accent Press in 2015.)
Lynne has very kindly given me a signed copy of her fantastic debut novel, French Kissing to give away to one winner. If you like romance, then this book is perfect.
About the book:
Anna Mitchel has been writing letters to her French penfriend, Alexandre Tourville, for fifteen years, but hasn’t seen him since they met as children on a school exchange trip. When Paris-based Alex, now a successful professional photographer, comes to work in London, Anna fails to recognise him. Instead of the small, geeky boy she remembers, he is tall, broad-shouldered and gorgeous.
Anna’s female friends are soon swooning over Alex’s Gallic charm, and Anna’s boyfriend, Nick, is becoming increasingly jealous of their friendship.
When Alex has to return to Paris to oversee the hanging of his photographs in an exhibition, he invites Anna to accompany him so that he can show her the city he adores …
How to enter:by
I am very pleased to be welcoming Lynne to Novel Kicks today. She talks to me about her writing process….
I never know when I’m going to get an idea for a novel. I love travelling, and very often, when I’m exploring a foreign city I’ve not visited before, I think of a story that could take place in that locale, but it could be a photograph, a piece of music or an overheard conversation that suddenly makes me want to open my laptop and start writing. The idea for my debut novel, ‘French Kissing,’ grew out of a phone conversation I overheard when travelling back from Paris to London with my family on the Eurostar. A young Frenchman sitting across the aisle spent the entire journey calling his English friends on his mobile, telling them that he was coming to London, and suggesting that they meet up. Unfortunately, none of his friends seemed to want to see him, which made me feel very sorry for him – and gave me the scenario for ‘French Kissing,’ in which a Frenchman coming to work in London is made very welcome by his English friend – who happens to be a girl…
When I start writing a story, I know the beginning and the ending, but have only a vague notion of what is going to take place in between. I jot down a few notes, just the outline of the plot, and then begin typing, throwing my hero and heroine together, and seeing what happens as they interact. I already know a lot about my hero and heroine at this point, and I note their age, appearance, etc on index cards, adding more details that as I go along. There does seem to be a moment when the characters I’ve created take over and start telling their own story! Sometimes I realise that the story arc I have planned for them just doesn’t work with the person they have become on the page, and I have to change it. A minor character in ‘French Kissing’ ended up in a romantic sub-plot, although I had no idea that this was going to happen when I first put her in the book – she was just supposed to be my heroine’s confidante.by