Writing Process

NK Chats To… Des Burkinshaw

Hi Des, thank you so much for joining me today. Can you tell me a little about your book, Dead and Talking and what inspired it?

It’s lovely to be here. Thank you for the invite. The novel is about a man who is forced to atone for the “sins” of his family by a sort of ghost – think It’s a Wonderful Life’s Clarence! – And he can only do that by righting some historical wrongs. He’s given the gift of being able to peer into the last moments of dead people’s lives if he’s near their remains. Which sort of helps. He’s a natural sceptic and thinks he’s going a bit mad but picks up some fellow travellers who help him. It quickly becomes an ensemble piece. Although set today, the first case he has to solve is of a private shot for desertion in WW1. He soon finds it is linked to his own family history.

It’s dark in places but is also funny because he and his helpers are all so reluctant to believe any of it is happening. There are some Ealing Comedy moments too. Tone-wise, it’s in the same ballpark as Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Though, as I say, the dark moments are pretty dark.

It was inspired by a few actual events from WW1. After I started plotting it, I also had to make a film about the role of soldiers from the Empire who fought for the British. I spent some time in Ypres, at the In Flanders Fields Museum and at some locations not open to tourists. It all sort of fitted together. Actually, doesn’t this show how research doesn’t just adorn the plot, it can become the plot?

 

What’s your typical writing day like? Is there somewhere specific you like to write?

I nearly always get up and go to a local coffee shop to get started for an hour or two on my laptop. I like to see the world go by before I hunker down behind the closed doors of my office. I write between 1-4 hours a day because I’m a filmmaker by trade and that takes up a lot of time. I wish I could spend more time writing.

 

How did your background in journalism help with writing your book?

Many ways. Not having a fear of the blank page helps a lot. Knowing how to plan, how to sub, how to edit. Knowing the importance of drafts and revisions. Welcoming constructive criticism and actually acting on it.

But it’s also in the people I’ve met. I’ve spent a lot of quality time with Normandy veterans and other soldiers. Also, my starting point has always been a journalistic one of trying to see both sides of an argument and so, though a natural sceptic myself, I’m able to suspend that disbelief while writing, simply by putting myself in the mind of someone who does believe. Sceptic or not, who doesn’t love the idea that there are ghosts?

 

What would your reaction be to a ghost? It would scare the hell out of me.

I’m a journalist. A sceptical journalist. But not a cynical one. I will never, ever believe there are ghosts until I see one myself though. I don’t care who else tells me. But if I did see one, I would use it as a basis to explore how I’d been wrong all this time. Sadly, I haven’t seen one – though I’ve seen quite a bit of death and spent a ridiculous amount of my life in cemeteries when I was younger. Always been a bit morbid.

I’d kill to see one. Even if I was afraid, I’d be delighted.

 

What’s your favourite word and why?

Continue reading

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Novel Kicks Fiction Friday: Viral

It’s Friday which means it’s time to start writing some fiction.

Fiction Friday is our weekly writing prompt.

The aim is to write for a minimum of five minutes and then keep going for as long as you can.

Once you’ve finished, don’t edit, just post in the comments box below.

Today’s prompt: Viral 

Think about a typical day for you.

One event from this day gets recorded by a stranger and goes viral on social media, eventually making its way onto national news.

Continue the story using the first person point of view.

Continue reading

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Novel Kicks Writing Room: Combinations

Welcome back to the Novel Kicks Writing Room. Today, it’s about combinations.

Pick a character from either something you’ve written or from the book you are currently reading. This is your main character.

Now randomly choose three more, each from different stories and as varied as you can make them.

Your main character is speed dating. One at a time, this character has a brief conversation with your other three choices before the bell goes off and they have to move on.

Write only using dialogue.

For each one, write for five minutes each time.

You could then always do other combinations within these characters. How would it work if your main character was suddenly the one who had to impress the others?

Continue reading

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

NK Chats To: Mandy Baggott

Hello Mandy. Thank you so much for joining me today. Can you tell me about your new book, One Last Greek Summer and what inspired it?

One Last Greek Summer is a perfect summer read set on the Greek island of Corfu. It’s the story of newly divorced thirty-something Beth Martin and her friend, Heidi, having one last holiday before they both re-evaluate the next stage of their lives. Except Heidi has picked the destination they both first visited when they were 21, and there just might be a few familiar faces waiting for them…

 

How has your writing process changed since writing your first novel?

*laughs* Seriously, it hasn’t changed that much! The only thing that has changed slightly is I now write two books every year as opposed to one when I first started out. I still initially come up with main characters and setting, the very bare bones of an idea, and then I literally start to write. I am not a plan it all and stick Post It notes around the room kind of writer, I just haven’t got that in me. I think if I knew the beginning, middle and end of each story I’d get bored writing it.

 

Where do you like to write? Do you have any writing rituals?

I have two main places I write. I have an office at home and I also visit my husband’s office at Numeric Accounting in Salisbury three days a week to give me that true ‘getting up and going to work’ feeling. It’s amazing how productive you can be surrounded by a team of accountants… As for writing rituals, I don’t really have any of those, just keep the coffee coming! Oh, and we always go to the pub at lunchtimes on a Friday! That surely counts, doesn’t it?

 

How important is it to pick the right names for your characters? 

This is SUPER important to me otherwise the characters don’t come alive or feel real to me. I remember one publisher (who shall remain nameless) at the very last moment, I think at the proofreading stage of things, wanted me to change the name and nationality of my hero. I was so shocked and I was absolutely not happy about it. I stuck to my guns and obviously I was right! It doesn’t usually take me long to come up with names but they do have to feel right for the characters.

 

What’s next for you?

I’m currently finishing writing Christmas! One Christmas Star comes out in e-book on 12 September and I am really excited about this book. It’s the story of schoolteacher, Emily and down-on-his-luck singer, Ray. It’s set in a festive London and involves a full-on school Christmas show – think Nativity meets A Star is Born – that’s how I pitched it to Aria Fiction.

Continue reading

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

NK Chats to… Jenni Keer

Jenni Keer

Hi Jenni, it’s great to be welcoming you back to Novel Kicks.

Thank you so much for having me back. I can’t believe my second book is out already. I had a real thrill ride with The Hopes and Dreams of Lucy Baker. The book had so many amazing reviews and I was delighted to get an Amazon bestseller flag. Let’s hope The Unlikely Life of Maisie Meadowsis as enthusiastically received.

 

Which fictional character would you like to spend the day with? What would you do?

This is such a hard question. In fact, I left answering it until the end because there are so many characters I could have chosen. I considered people from historical novels where I would get the opportunity to spend some time in an exciting period of history – perhaps with a Regency lady or a certain Victorian cotton mill owner *wink*. I thought about characters with special powers, like Harry Potter and various superheroes (flying through the air with Superman would be a blast). I considered the simple rural idyll that would be spending a day with Anne Shirley at Green Gables, or Miss Marple in her beloved St Mary Mead. Perhaps I could pamper myself and spend the day with someone wealthy or influential, perhaps party with Jay Gatsby, or Holly Golightly? So many fabulous characters, so many choices…

In the end (wait for it…) it’s a toss up between Mr Daydream (who could give my imagination a boost and therefore some fabulous material for my novels) and Mr Impossible (so I can do EVERYTHING and ANYTHING) from the fabulous Mr Men. These were the very first books I read by myself and they have a special place in my heart. I’m sure I could have some up with something more intellectual but I’m embracing my inner child. Besides, I’m curious to see how they mange to drink a cup of tea with those stumpy little arms (Mr Tickle being the obvious exception).

 

Which songs would be on a playlist for The Unlikely Life of Maisie Meadows?

This is quite an easy question because Theo, who works with Maisie at the auction house, has a particular penchant for the 1980s. Although he is an expert in modern design (i.e. post-war) that’s the decade that really interests him, and this is reflected in his music taste. He plays a lot of The Jam, The Police, The Clash (late Seventies/Eighties) so a soundtrack would have to include these bands. This contrasts with the flamboyant Johnny (Maisie’s boss) who has more classical tastes, so perhaps some Mozart and a sprinkling of Shostakovich (as it is mentioned in the book). And then, to keep the author happy, I’d have to throw in a few recent dance tracks – which is largely what I listen to when I write. So it would be quite an eclectic mix.

 

How did your writing process differ from your previous novel?

In many ways it was quite similar. I’m a pantser, not a plotter, so apart from the bare bones of the story and a definite idea of the ending, I do tend to launch myself in rather randomly, not even writing chronologically. However, for Maisie I had to produce a synopsis for the publisher before I began writing and this did help me focus my ideas a bit more. There was also a time pressure for Maisie, whereas Lucy was written before I had a publishing deal so I had longer to play about with it. However, deadlines are Good Things. They help you focus.

The only thing I really did differently was a mid-book plan. I always refer to my first draft as the Bowl of Dropped Spaghetti stage – because in my head that’s what it feels like. After that, I need to pick all the jumbled spaghetti up and sort it out. Writing Maisie was the first time I’d produced a coherent plan but it was only at this post first-draft stage. I put all the scenes I’d written on Post-it notes and then planned the book – a bit backwards but it worked. My clever techie son set me up with two screens and I simply pulled across sections in order onto a blank document. I am at the Bowl of Dropped Spaghetti stage with Book 3 now so shall employ this method again.

 

Which authors have inspired you?

Continue reading

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Novel Kicks Fiction Friday: Something Valuable

It’s Friday which means it’s time to start writing some fiction.

Fiction Friday is our weekly writing prompt. The aim is to write for a minimum of five minutes and then keep going for as long as you can. Once you’ve finished, don’t edit, just post in the comments box below.

Today’s prompt…

Your most valuable possession goes missing. You begin to chase the thief.

It takes you to parts of your home town you’ve never been before.

Carry on the story.

At some point, someone ends up dressed like a rabbit.

Continue reading

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Novel Kicks Writing Room: Research

Today, I wanted to focus on research.

When looking at the writing process, nothing scares me as much as the research part.

How much planning and research is enough? At what point can you get too buried underneath all of the information?

The most daunting question of all… where do I begin?

I wanted to try the following exercise.

Make a list of the first five celebrities or historical figures that come into your head. Then pick one.

Using google, spend thirty minutes finding out five facts about this celebrity or historical figure.

Once you’ve done that, write a conversation between yourself and this person using the information you’ve found out.

Has this exercise sparked a bigger idea? What else do you feel you’d need to know before you begin to write a bigger story?

Continue reading

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Novel Kicks Writing Room – Autobiographical

Writing about yourself.

Set a timer for five minutes.

Write down as many memories from your own life that come to mind within the time.

From that list, pick the one that stands out the most and make as many notes about it, trying to remember as much as you can from how you felt, the smells, who was there. What happened and how it ended.

Once you’ve done that, use these notes to write a chapter as though you were writing your autobiography.

Give the chapter a title.

Continue reading

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Novel Kicks Writing Room: Keeping a Diary

Many of you have probably kept a diary at some point in your lives? It’s something I have done on and off through the years.

They are definitely a window into what a person is like.

Using a character in your current work in progress, keep a diary from the point of view of your character. Do this for at least three days and maximum of five days.

How would they be reacting to current events? The race for Prime Minister, climate change? Love Island?

If you’ve not got a current WIP, choose an existing fictional character. I wonder how Elizabeth Bennett or Mr Collins would react to what is currently going on.

Continue reading

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

NK Chats To: Elizabeth Crocket

Hi Elizabeth, thank you so much for joining me today. Can you tell me a little about your book, Full of Grace and what inspired it? 

In Full of Grace, Angela keeps a roof over her head, albeit a leaking one, by writing romance novels. But Angela’s never really believed in the traditional happily ever after ending. So, she begins writing the story of Grace, who has recently been diagnosed with cancer shortly after finding out her husband Rick is having an affair. Again.

As she writes the story to dispel the myth of happily ever after, Angela begins a relationship with Mark, the contractor who comes to fix her leaking roof, and ironically, it looks like she may be on the way to her own happy ending. But Angela’s had a difficult past and has a cynical outlook, while Mark’s life has just gotten messy. Angela wonders if this is all going to work out.

Grace lies in bed at night, wondering if what Rick wants to give her, and what he is capable of giving her, are two different things. She asks Rick to move out temporarily, while they try to assess their marriage. She wonders how she can get such comfort and security from a man who cheated on her.

My inspiration for this book came when I was daydreaming one day, thinking it would be fun to write a book about two women with different story-lines, and two different personalities. I started to think of the character Angela, and what she would write about next. I decided she should write about a character who has cancer, as I could draw on my vast experience, having lost my parents to cancer, and having had cancer myself. I wanted a story-line about cancer to sound authentic, because I’ve read some that didn’t ring true to me. However, it isn’t all doom and gloom, there is some romance, fun and humour as well!

 

What’s your typical writing day like? Is there somewhere specific you like to write?  

When I’m working on a novel, or writing anything for that matter, I don’t have a typical writing day. I tend to live and breathe what I’m working on. I’ve been known to be sitting at my kitchen table at 3:00 in the morning, jotting down something I’ve thought of in the night.

 

What’s your favourite word and why? 

My favourite word. Hmm. This is where I’m wondering if I should be honest and say that it probably isn’t printable. (grin) But, I’ll choose a more suitable response and say that it’s each of my grandchildren’s names. That would be six words, though, so I’ll say “grandchildren”. Or “grace”, a quality I so admire. I really love words, we could be here all day!

 

Which authors have inspired you? 

So many authors have inspired me. I jump between reading fiction, non-fiction and poetry. So, I’ll choose someone in those three categories that I’ve read this year. Elizabeth Berg, Michelle Obama, and Billy Collins. What a dinner party that would be!

 

What are you currently working on? 

I have two books that should be released in the next year or so. Soon I will start edits on my third women’s fiction, The Smell of Roses. I also have my first children’s picture book, Happy Haiku, coming out within a year or so. And I am always working on some type of Japanese short form poetry, which is a great interest and love of mine.

 

What song best describes you? 

Continue reading

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Novel Kicks Fiction Friday: People Watching

It’s Friday which means it’s time to start writing some fiction.

Fiction Friday is our weekly writing prompt. The aim is to write for a minimum of five minutes and then keep going for as long as you can. Once you’ve finished, don’t edit, just post in the comments box below.

People watch for ten minutes.

Once you’ve spotted someone who interests you (without making it obvious you’re studying them and being in danger of looking all creepy, hahahahaha,) write about them.

What has their day been like so far? Who are they? Where are they going? What do they look like?

Continue reading

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Novel Kicks Writing Room: Free Writing

Today, I thought we could keep it nice and simple and do some free writing. 

I like this kind of exercise as you never know what is going to come out of it.

Set the alarm for ten minutes. Start writing and don’t stop. See if you can get to five hundred words in that ten minutes.

Just in case you need a little inspiration, I have posted some prompts below.

Enjoy.

 

Prompt 1: 

With a deep breath, she opens the box. 

 

Prompt 2: 

The music started and he knew he couldn’t do it. 

Continue reading

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

NK Chats To… Claire Wingfield

Hi Claire, thank you so much for joining me today. Can you tell me a little about your book, Saving Francesca Maier and what inspired it?

Saving Francesca Maier takes place over a summer in Berlin, when a family arrive to visit old friends in the city, disturbing secrets that have long lain dormant.

Having grown up in the UK, my first job as a young graduate was in Berlin and the book was inspired by those two transformative years in my life, during which I felt an exhilarating – and at times terrifying – sense of freedom. It seemed natural to put those intense emotions into the character of Francesca, an adolescent girl on the cusp of change when she’s brought to her father’s home country for the first time.

 

What’s your typical writing day like? Is there somewhere specific you like to write?

With two young children and a busy editorial business, my writing is often squeezed in at the edges of the day. I like to write before the rest of my family is awake but also find many of my ideas come when I’m not at my desk. Writing Saving Francesca Maier, quite a few plot ideas came to me whilst swimming and at least one of the scenes is inspired by a yoga pose!

 

What’s your favourite word and why? 

Change.

In writing and in life I am always reminding myself to appreciate that people can make quite incredible transformations. It’s those transformations that can provide a lift and new momentum to a narrative and a sense of hope in life. Some of us are too often told that people can’t change and that’s when we get stuck in our place in life and our emotions. Reading novels can remind us that other paths are possible, and part of my writing has been inspired by the personal transformations of people I’ve known – especially those that come after many years of one way of being. There’s an important shift in mindset for one of the characters in Saving Francesca Maier which needed a catalyst but also required incredible bravery to stick to, once my character glimpsed that change was possible.

 

Which books have inspired you? 

Continue reading

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Novel Kicks Fiction Friday: The Whimsical Fairy

It’s Friday which means it’s time to start writing some fiction.

Fiction Friday is our weekly writing prompt. The aim is to write for a minimum of five minutes and then keep going for as long as you can. Once you’ve finished, don’t edit, just post in the comments box below.

Today’s prompt: a whimsical fairy. 

Your character is a fairy who is, well, away with the fairies in her/his own little world. They have earned their wings but on their final warning.

Your setting is a secret room in a library. In this room, there are boxes filled with…..

Continue the story.

Continue reading

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Novel Kicks Writing Room: Free Writing

For our writing group today, it’s a bit of free writing.

I have started a story below. Writing for a minimum of five minutes, continue the story. You can either keep the current POV or maybe carry it on using the point of view of the person being followed?

Have fun.

*****

I watch from the other side of the road whilst she waits in line for her coffee. She hasn’t spotted me. Her head is looking down at the phone in her hand; a small smile plays on her lips as her fingers fly across the screen.

I wonder who makes her smile like that. An agonising feeling of jealousy rises but I quickly try and brush it aside. I need to keep my focus. I am so close.

I come out of the shadows and begin to follow her when I see her finally leaving the busy coffee shop, almost loosing her in the crowds of people on the pavement. I keep my distance, careful not to be seen.

Continue reading

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Novel Kicks is a blog for story tellers and book lovers.

Facebook
Twitter
Google+
Pinterest
LinkedIn
INSTAGRAM
RSS
Follow by Email
Book Club
Book Club
Twitter
Poll
Archives
Categories