Hopping on the blog: writing plans and processes

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Natasha Lester

Last week Natasha Lester kindly invited me to take part in a blog hop on writing processes. Natasha is the author of two brilliant works of fiction – What is Left Over, After and If I Should Lose You – and teaches writing at UWA Extension and the new Writers Centre which has recently opened in Perth. You can read her blog here to find out why she plans to diversify this year and more on the novel she’s working on. Now she has passed the baton to me, and although I’m still feeling a little fuzzy headed having only just declared maternity leave over, I will do my best to explain what I’m up to this year and how I write…

What am I working on?

A new novel called The Spirit Road. Set in the Lake District, it’s about teenage secrets and family betrayals and has numerous twists and turns. There are some serious issues in there, but I’m having a lot of fun trying to fit it all together. Fortunately, I wrote half of the book before my youngest was born, so it’s nice not to have to start from scratch. I’m sure all my books benefit from resting time, but that isn’t always possible when writing to deadlines, so I’m pleased this one has had chance to sit for a while. Some distance has given me the chance to assess how it’s going a little more objectively, and I am delighted that I’ve only felt the need to cut 4,000 words so far!

How does your work differ from others in its genre?

Indie Side cover 4My books straddle a few different genres, which I think is a good thing until we try to market them! I like to write fast-paced family/relationship suspense dramas, almost thrillers, and I’d say that readers of Kate Morton, Jodi Picoult and Heather Gudenkauf would, hopefully, find much to like in my stories. Although you’ll discover some common narrative threads in my novels, I like to experiment with narrative strategy too. So, for example, Shallow Breath is told from seven people’s point of view, whereas Beneath the Shadows is from only one perspective.

Like Natasha, I also have plans to diversify – I love a challenge and it’s exciting to explore new ways of creating stories. My most recent work is a short story with an apocalyptic twist for an anthology of independent writers, including Hugh Howey, Jason Gurley and Michael Bunker, called The Indie Side.

Why do I write what I do?

Natasha had a great response to this question last week, and mine is similar. I write the stories that nag away at me and don’t leave me alone until I’ve finished them. I have heaps of ideas, but most of them naturally fall away. It’s the ones that stay with me that I begin paying attention to, because I realise I have found a topic or character that I want to explore, and hopefully if I feel that way then readers will too.

How does my writing process work?

First of all, I try not to let things get in the way of writing time. It’s a never-ending challenge, with children’s needs and all the duties of daily living, not to mention trying to keep up with websites and social media and promoting a backlist of books.

When I sit down to write I work to a loose plan, but if the writing is flowing then I go with that, and I only go back to reconsider my plan if I get stuck. I edit as I go – one of the bonuses of having a tandem career as a book editor is that I’m used to critiquing work so I try to look objectively at what I’m doing and make those painful cuts if necessary.

 

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Jason Gurley

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Kate Danley

And now, I am very excited to tag in three of my fellow Indie Side writers, who will join the blog hop next week to tell you all about their writing. Jason Gurley is a star of the indie scene with a whole host of well-received novels, and not only that but he’s a talented cover art designer too, and designed the beautiful cover for our anthology. Kate Danley is a USA Today bestselling author of fantasy titles, whose debut novel, The Woodcutter, was honoured with the Garcia Award for Best Fiction book of the year. Finally, Mel Hearse is a journalist and fiction writer who is releasing a series of short stories this year as well as working on her first novel. I’ll link up to their posts next week.

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About Sara

Sara Foster lives in Western Australia with her husband and young daughter. She divides her time between writing, book editing and being a mum. Her passions include the natural world, photography and travel.

5 Responses to Hopping on the blog: writing plans and processes

  1. Rowena Holloway February 19, 2014 at 5:41 am #

    Hi Sara,
    Thanks for sharing. Personally I love novels that straddle genres but I understand the difficulty marketing them. I was interested by your comment that you can edit as you write. How do you manage to move into the editors objective head space when immersed in your novel’s world and it’s characters?
    Cheers
    Rowena :)

  2. Sara February 24, 2014 at 1:00 pm #

    Hi Rowena,
    Thanks for your comment! In response to your question, I think my ability to switch from writer to editor has grown as I’ve gone along. If I’m having a good writing session I don’t interrupt it, but I do stop to try to put myself in the reader’s shoes, asking questions like, will they be engaged by this section, have I revealed information too quickly/too slowly or do I need to add anything to help the reader stay immersed in the story. I didn’t do this so much with my first book, it’s just something I’m now able to do a little more in tandem with the writing, although my primary focus until I have a finished draft is always getting the story down! It’s certainly a challenge trying to balance the creative impulse and the critical eye!

  3. Rowena Holloway February 24, 2014 at 1:09 pm #

    Thanks for the reply, Sara. The benefit of experience! I agree, getting the first draft down is a priority for me – now. I used to polish and polish and never get anywhere! Beneath the Shadows is on my must read list. Can’t wait to get stuck in.

  4. Sara February 24, 2014 at 1:13 pm #

    Thanks Rowena, and I wish you all the best with that first draft! And thank you for having Beneath the Shadows on your list, I hope you enjoy it.

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