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.
On an ideal day, I write in the morning, sitting down at my desk in my writing room (or the spare bedroom, as some people insist on calling it!) by about 9.30. First of all, I read back over everything I wrote the day before, which gets me back into the flow of my plot. I usually find myself deleting some of the previous day’s output. Or rather, I cut it and save it in another file – a scene that is wrong for one story can be perfect in another. I then write for about three hours, and hopefully manage to produce between 800 to 1,000 words (I have been known to keep writing and forget to have lunch if a story is going really well!). I know a lot of authors prefer to write a first draft without editing at all, but I do edit to a certain extent as I go along, reading back over a paragraph and changing the odd word, or moving paragraphs around the page. When I’m about three-quarters of the way through my story, I read all of it again from the beginning, making brief notes to keep track of things like which characters are introduced in each chapter, and the timescale over which the story is taking place. By then, I have a clear idea of my plot’s twists and turns, and it’s at this stage that I plan future chapters to keep the action on track.
I mostly write in the first person and in the past tense, simply because for me this is the natural way to write. Occasionally, if a scene isn’t going well, I switch to writing in the present tense, as this makes it more immediate and easier to visualise, and then change it into the past tense when I go over it the next day. My characters tend to be very talkative, and I sometimes recite my dialogue aloud to make sure that it sounds right.
By the time I reach the last chapter of my first draft I have about 90,000 words. The writing process has left me exhilarated, surprised at the way my plot has developed as my characters took on a life of their own and very eager to start editing the next draft of my story.
Lynne Shelby can’t remember a time when she wasn’t writing, and her ambition was always to be a published author. She writes contemporary romance, because that’s what she likes reading the most. In January 2015, she was thrilled to win the Accent Press & Woman Magazine Writing Competition with her debut novel ‘French Kissing.’ She loves travelling and is inspired to write by the many wonderful foreign cities that she has visited and explored, with a camera and writer’s notebook in hand – Rome, Milan, Barcelona, Madrid, Venice, New York, Copenhagen, Berlin and of course Paris, the city which inspired her to write ‘French Kissing’.
For more information on Lynne, visit her website: www.lynneshelby.com
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 …
French Kissing was published in August 2015 by Accent Press and is available in paperback and e-book: http://www.amazon.co.uk