Monday, 5 May 2014

My Writing Process Blog Tour


Today, I'm joining in the 'My Writing Process' Blog Tour. I was invited by Christina Hollis, a best-selling Harlequin author. Her latest novel is Jewel Under Siege, a romance set in the time of the First Crusade, and you can find her blog here.
This blog tour is a great way of learning about how other writers, experienced or just starting out, create their novels and in doing so, pick up some useful tips.

What am I working on?

I’m working on two novels at the moment. One is a time slip set in the present and the First World War and the other is set solely in the present as a relief from all the historical research!

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Everyone brings their own experiences and knowledge to their writing. In the First World War novel, I’ve drawn upon family stories passed down to me, as a child, from my grandmother, and from research I was able to do about my father who was shot in October 1918 near Arras, France. (Obviously, he survived, or I wouldn’t be here!)

In the novel set in the present, I’ve drawn upon my own experiences of helping to make wedding cakes which add originality to the scenes.

Why do I write what I do?

I’ve chosen these things to write about because they interest me. I can’t imagine choosing a story, set in a university astrophysics department, involving the discovery of the beginning of the universe, and being attacked by aliens, although someone else may like to try it!

How does my writing process work?

Ideally, I would like several whole days free to concentrate on my writing, but life gets in the way, and I have to write when I can.

Firstly, I try to plan my novel and I am getting better at this. I find Julie Cohen’s three-act story plan, which she told us about at the RNA conference in Penrith, very useful.

Secondly, I do my research. Although it's very easy to do it online or from books, I think it's very important to visit the places I’m writing about and talk to people.

Thirdly, I make notes and then write with a hard 2H pencil (because it doesn't need sharpening so often!) in an A4 wide ruled notebook. I only write on the right hand page so I can add notes on the left. Bringing in Julie Cohen again, I read once that she was told that if you had to extend a chapter, instead of introducing more people or events, go deeper with what you’ve got. So therefore, on the left hand page, I might extend a scene by exploring exactly what someone did or what they had referred to. I also make notes there for further research or new ideas.

Then, I type it up, editing as I go, but that isn't the end, because, I'll print it out and read it out loud and edit it again until I'm happy with it.
I think that the main thing, though, is to keep writing!

Next week, I'll be passing the baton on to three RNA NWS members:
Clare Chase, newly signed up Choc Lit author, with Anna in the Works, 'a mystery romance with funny bits'!
Vanessa Woolley who has a regular column about her chaotic family life in the Maidenhead Advertiser, who is enjoying writing a romantic suspense,
and Evie Mclaughlin who took part in the NANOWRIMO (write 50,000 words in a month challenge) last November.

You can follow #mywritingprocess on Twitter


  1. Love reading about how you work, Jean. Good luck with those two novels!

  2. I was fascinated to read the background to your process, and how your own experience relates to your writing, Jean! Thanks for tagging me to take part next week! :0)

    1. Thanks, Clare. The interesting thing about reading these 'My Writing Process' blogs is that we all go about the task in different ways. Looking forward to reading yours next week!

  3. How wonderful to draw on stories passed down your family about WW1. I know exactly what you mean, setting the other novel in the present. I'm currently writing a 1780s/present time-slip and have thought I'd quite like to set a novel just in the present where little research is needed, so I can write it more quickly. I use A4 notebooks too for planning and first drafts of scenes- I like the idea of keeping the left-hand page free for additional notes-might try that!

  4. Thanks, Anita, and good luck with your writing, whether in the past or the present!

  5. Really interesting reading about your writing process, Jean. And that's great advice from Julie Cohen about going 'deeper' with what you've got. Will need to remember that! Good luck with your novels.

    1. Thank you, Vikki. Good luck with your writing too:)