Sticking to the plan?

Plan

I thought I’d do a pre-Christmas post about sticking to the plan when writing. Or not. You see I’ve found it hard to stick to the plan for my current story Teaching Mr Leavis (a romance).

In the past when I’ve begun working on a story, I’ve made a plan and mostly stuck to it. Not so with this story. This time, for some reason, I’ve veered quite far from the plan.

This has brought opportunities and complications. I’ve found that as regards the plot, I floundered quite a bit after the beginning. I kind of had an idea for the end (although that too has now changed), but I had no clue as to what should happen in the middle of the story.

Which obviously creates a problem. The thing is I’d only semi-planned what should happen in the middle of the story and when the story began to unfold in a very different way to what I’d initially planned, it was hard for me to rein it in, if you like, and bring it back to what I’d originally planned.

So I didn’t. I just went with the flow and although it’s been quite exciting, I would say that next time I’d rather stick a bit more closely to the plan. Because the thing is, despite appearances to the contrary, I’m a plotter not a pantser and while it was exciting to have the characters move the plot along in ways I couldn’t have expected, I also felt rather lost.

In general I’m a highly organised person. So when things don’t go according to plan, that can feel a little strange for me! But I’m the first to admit it has been interesting writing this story and doing it a bit more by the ‘seat of my pants’! I’ve been able to develop characters and change aspects of their natures. I’ve thought more about what really works in a romance,what readers of romance expect when they read one, and how I can fulfill their expectations.

The main problem I’ve found by not sticking to the plan is that the story is a lot shorter than I’d envisaged. I was initially aiming for around 70,000 words and it’s come out about 20,000 words short. I don’t think this is necessarily a problem though. I don’t know if you’ll agree with this, but it seems to me that ebooks can be virtually any length, that really anything goes. That’s just what I’ve surmised over the past couple of years through blogging and interacting with other authors, as well reading other indie authors’ books.

To conclude then I would say that for me as a writer, I work better and more productively when I have a more coherent plan to begin with. I would never say that I would stick religiously to it, but a good plan helps give the story I’m writing a good backbone, a good skeleton on which to build the flesh of my narrative. But writing Teaching Mr Leavis has definitely been an interesting process to explore what works for me as a writer.

So over to you. Are you a plotter or a pantser or a bit of both? How do you tackle the whole writing process?

A very quick WIPpet

Hi everyone. How’s your week been? My apologies for missing last week’s WIPpet Wednesday. I was working. The new job’s going well but it’s quite tiring.

Anyway I’m working again tomorrow and I’m busy the rest of today, so most likely I won’t be able to comment on anyone else’s post until Friday. So this is just a quick WIPpet.

I’ve chosen 5 short paragraphs to share from Teaching Mr Leavis and my maths goes like this (it’s simple as always!): 3 (for the day) + 2 (for 2014) = 5

Just to get you up to speed – this excerpt that I’m sharing with you takes place near the beginning of the story and it’s one of the new bits I’m adding in my editing process. This scene takes place outside the school where my MC Rebecca teaches. Jonathan Leavis is giving her a hard time (as usual). He’s angry at her for keeping his son Daniel behind at school for a detention and so causing him to miss an appointment:

‘Mr Leavis, I cannot be held responsible for any missed appointments your son has had,’ she said, barely keeping her anger at bay. ‘But perhaps if Daniel had told me that he had an appointment I might have…’

‘Oh that’s a pathetic excuse if I ever heard one,’ Mr Leavis interrupted, his expression incandescent with rage. ‘Daniel’s a kid; he’s never going to remember these things. If he’d come out on time though, we would have made it and I…’

Disgusted with the way the conversation was headed, Rebecca decided she’d had enough of it. ‘Mr Leavis, I have said all I am going to say. Goodbye.’ And she turned and began to walk away.

‘I’m not finished yet,’ he said in a loud voice. She heard footsteps behind her and then felt a hand on her arm. Amazed at his audacity she turned around, aware that Daniel and some other bystanders were watching.

‘What do you…’ The words died on her lips as she looked at him. In spite of the anger she felt, there was a not-unpleasant tingling in her stomach. His eyes were blazing at her, his face was red and yet as their eyes met, for a moment Rebecca felt an affinity with him. She couldn’t think why.

Like to join in WIPpet Wednesday? It’s easy. Simply post an excerpt of your recent writing work on your blog, then add your name to this little linky thingy. Just make sure it relates in some way to the date. Don’t forget to check out the other WIPpeteers’ contributions too.

Thanks goes as always to K. L. Schwengel for hosting. :D

I START MY NEW JOB TOMORROW!! (and here’s my WIPpet for Wednesday)

Yes I am indeed starting a new job tomorrow which is why this post is late and short (but hopefully sweet!). I’ve been doing all my washing and other house jobs today because I won’t have time tomorrow or Friday as I’ll be working all day. :)

(Great excuse not to do housework hee hee!) I should add that I might not get around to commenting on many WIPpets this week because of said job. My apologies. Anyway as I said today’s WIPpet is a short one because of the time thing. So using my incredible powers with mathematics, you get 2 sentences: 1 + 1 for the month of November. :)

I’m not going to say much about it except that it’s from Teaching Mr Leavis again (which I’m hacking to pieces editing at the moment) and it’s taken from the first chapter. Here you go:

Rebecca heard a snap – probably the man closing his phone – and began to walk around the corner to get her bike. She collided with a solid, muscular chest and nearly fell over before strong arms caught her and lifted her upright again.

If you’re reading this and thinking ‘Ooh that’s something I’d like to take part in’, it’s easy. Just post on your blog an excerpt of what you’ve been working on lately writing-wise. Ideally it should relate in some way to the date. Then add your details to this linky thingy here. Don’t forget to check out the other WIPpeteers’ contributions.

Thanks to the fantabulous K. L. Schwengel for hosting once more.

An interview with my MC Rebecca – WIPpet Wednesday

I wasn’t sure what to share today as I’m up to my neck in editing Teaching Mr Leavis and changing a whole lot of stuff. OK that’s putting a bit crudely, but you get the idea.

Anyway I thought I’d share with you something I’ve written especially for today: an interview with my main character from Teaching Mr Leavis, Rebecca. It’s a bit rough and ready but I hope you enjoy it. Oh and I should say that it doesn’t relate in any way to the date and it’s over 500 words long. My apologies! Here you go:

Me: I’m pleased to be interviewing the main character in my story Teaching Mr Leavis today. Her name in case you didn’t know is Rebecca. By the way I should add that we’re travelling back in time as the story is set twenty years ago. So over to you, Rebecca. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Rebecca: I will but what do you mean by the story being set twenty years ago? (Folds her arms and looks stern.)

Me: Um… nothing really. Please continue.

R: (Looks suspicious) All right, well I’m an English teacher at a secondary school called Wyncliffe High.

Me: Could you clarify what a secondary school is? We have an international audience.

R: (raises an eyebrow) We do? OK, a secondary school is for 11 to 16 year olds and at 16 the children sit their GCSEs – that stands for General Certificate of Secondary Education. Then they leave.

Me: (nods) So what’s it like teaching at Wyncliffe?

R: (shrugs) It’s pretty good. Though what with this being my first year it’s been a bit of a rollercoaster ride.

Me: In what way?

R: (cheeks turn pink) I’ve had to get used to teaching – this is my first teaching job since completing my QTS – that’s qualified teacher status for those who don’t know. I got that after my degree. Anyway, I feel like I’m settling into the job now.

Me: (murmurs) In more ways than one.

R: (sharply) What was that?

Me: Um… nothing.

R: I suppose you’re referring to my love life?

Me: Well…

R: (turns red in the face) I don’t see how it’s anyone’s business but my own. Yes I’ve had my ups and downs in that department, but haven’t we all? (Pauses, smoothing down already smooth hair.) Mr Leavis and I are…

Me: What?

R: We might be an item, but we’re keeping it under wraps. For now anyway. Daniel, his son, has just finished his GCSEs so it should be easier without him at the school. I mean, it just looks bad if I’m dating my pupil’s father.

Me: (nods) But I don’t suppose anyone really cares. It’s not illegal is it?

R: (shakes head) No, that’s true but I’d hate to think that I was the subject of gossip. Though I have been warned that people do gossip at Wyncliffe. It’s just what seems to happen. I suppose that’s life. (sighs)

Me: And are you happy in your life at the moment Rebecca?

R: (smiles) Yes, very. I wouldn’t turn back the clock, not for anything.

Me: What do you mean?

R: Ending my engagement with Alex. We both made the right decision and I know that he’s happy now and I’m happy too. It’s taken a long while for me to get to this point. Now that I’m with Jonathan things are good for me. Though I hated his guts for a while. (smiles)

Me: Well I’m glad you’ve found happiness. Thank you for taking the time to talk to me, Rebecca. (I hold out my hand for her to shake.)

R: Thank you very much too. You helped me and Jonathan to find each other.

Me: I did? (feigns perplexity)

R: Yes, you know you did. I’m grateful for it.

Me: Maybe I helped you a little… anyway I’m glad you’re happy. See you around, Rebecca.

R: Yes, see you in the twenty first century.

(I blink and she’s gone.)

If you would like to take part in WIPpet Wednesday all you have to do is share a piece of whatever you’re working on writing-wise. It should ideally relate in some way to the date, though I’ve broken that rule today! Then add your name here.

Thank you to K. L. Schwengel for hosting. I believe she’s back from her travels now, so why not pop over to her blog and take a look? :)

Sort of finished – WIPpet Wednesday

wippetwednesday

Welcome to WIPpet Wednesday, that time of the week when we WIPpeteers share some of what we’ve been working on writing-wise lately.

As the title of this blog post suggests I’ve finished the first draft of Teaching Mr Leavis. Yay! you might say – I’m sort of yay but not quite because now comes the hard part.

It’s come in at less than 50,000 words and ideally I want it to be longer than that. Also it needs a LOT of work on it and when I say a lot, I mean a lot! I need to tighten things up plot wise, develop underused characters, make it more romantic (yes really!) – the list is endless!

So I’ve started going through from the beginning and starting to change things. I want to edit the entire thing myself before anyone else sees it. Then maybe get an alpha reader to look at it. And only after that will I get any beta readers to take a look. Right now I’m feeling like I don’t want anyone to see it in its present state! (WIPpet Wednesday doesn’t count – I can share the better bits with you all for that!!)

Anyway onto what I’m sharing with you today. I’ve decided to share something a bit different. I thought I’d introduce you to Judith, my MC Rebecca’s disapproving mother. Rebecca and her parents – Judith and Martin – don’t see eye to eye. Judith and Martin have always wanted Rebecca to do what they think she should be doing – they don’t approve of her teaching. Rebecca won’t play ball so there’s tension. Lots of it! This scene takes place after Rebecca has had another encounter with Jonathan Leavis. Today Judith is visiting Rebecca in her flat. Rebecca’s preoccupied and things aren’t going well between them…

For today I’m sharing with you 21 sentences. My maths goes like this: 20 + 1 = 21 (I’m cheating again, taking the digits from the year!) Enjoy!

‘So how’s it all going at the school then, Rebecca?’ her mother Judith asked, taking a sip from her bone china cup of tea. It was Saturday afternoon. Rebecca’s mother and father were visiting Stokington for a few days. Maria had point blank refused to let them stay with her again so soon after their previous visit, so Judith and Martin, Rebecca’s father, were staying in a local hotel. Judith was visiting Rebecca while Martin went to explore the Stokington aviation museum, which was on the outskirts of the city.

Rebecca was silent for a moment, pondering her mother’s question. Memories of her encounter with Jonathan Leavis two days ago came flooding back. She felt heat rush to her face and downed the rest of her tea in one go.

‘Are you feeling hot?’ Judith asked. ‘It is a bit warm in here; maybe you should open the window.’

‘No, Mum, it’s all right, I’m sure I’ll cool down in a minute,’ Rebecca replied, her face warm with embarrassment. ‘School’s going well thank you. It’s busy but I’m coping.’

Barely, she added silently. She was feeling the pressure of continuing to prepare her pupils for their exams later in the school year.

Judith nodded. ‘Well you know what your dad and I say. You can always…’

‘Give it up, yes I know,’ Rebecca snapped. ‘But that’s not going to happen. I’m not going to give up after just one term. I know how much you’d love it if I did, but I won’t.’

That’s it from me today. :) If you have any advice re editing/pulling a book apart let me know!

WIPpet Wednesday is open to anyone who’d like to take part. Just share with us on your blog an excerpt from whatever you’ve been working on writing-wise lately. Preferably your excerpt should relate in some way to the date. Then add your name to this linky thing.

Thanks goes to our lovely currently-travelling K. L. Schwengel for hosting.  :D

 

 

 

 

I’ve finished… sort of!

BookThis is just a quick post to say that I’ve finished my first draft of Teaching Mr Leavis, the romance about a school teacher I’ve been writing.

It’s come in at less than 50,000 words though, so at the moment although it’s technically classed as a novel, it’s a short one. Now comes the hard part. It needs a heck of a lot of editing, which in a way I’m looking forward to.

I reckon I can significantly increase the word count while at the same time improving on what’s written as I go through the editing process. Why has this story kind of run away from me and made me end at the end at what feels like too soon?

Well maybe it’s because I didn’t stick to my plan enough, that I didn’t make a detailed enough plan and so things just kind of evolved. But it’s definitely been an interesting experience so far. I’ve discovered more about the characters who’ve developed and changed during the course of the story and I’ve been able to take the plot in new and interesting directions.

So anyway I’ve decided that for now no one is going to see this story apart from me. I’m going to go through it and edit it as thoroughly as I can. Then I may well see if I can find an alpha reader to take a look at it and only after that get it beta read. I’m hoping that way I can greatly improve on what I’ve got at the moment.

I do believe it’s a promising story and could be made even better when I’ve gone through and corrected things, developed some of the subsidiary characters more and fleshed out the plot. I have to say I’m actually looking forward to this process. It’s going to be a lot of hard work, but I’m hoping it’ll be worth it in the end.

What are your current writing projects looking like? Are you in the middle of editing?

My journey writing ‘Reunion of the Heart’

RotH-Cover

I publish Reunion of the Heart tomorrow! Woo hoo! I can’t tell you how excited I am. It’s taken me a while to get to this point and today I wanted to write about… well how I came to write it.

When I published my first novel, The Inheritance, slightly less than a year ago, I did it as a kind of experiment.  It was my second completed novel (the first will never see the light of day!!) and although I knew it was far from perfect, I wanted to have the experience of publishing a book and just see how it went.

My husband encouraged me to publish it – he felt it would be a good experience for me.  And it has been.  Although I will say that I was disappointed by the lack of sales.  However I think that one of the main reasons that The Inheritance didn’t sell that well is because it doesn’t fit easily into a genre.  The best genre description for it is a family saga.

I did pretty well when I put The Inheritance on free promotion a couple of months after I published it. But I was disappointed that the free downloads didn’t translate into sales.

I’ve always felt with my writing that I want to write about what I want to write about, if that makes sense.  I don’t want to feel confined to writing in a certain way.  But if you’re writing a novel that’s going to be hard to market, you’re going to have problems, as I found with The Inheritance.

Reunion of the Heart is a contemporary romance, so it fits much more neatly into a genre than The Inheritance did.  However, with Reunion of the Heart, as with The Inheritance, I was writing about what I wanted to write about.  I didn’t simply choose to  write a romance.

With my latest as-yet-untitled work in progress, it’s been more of a conscious decision to write a romance.  I am very much enjoying writing this new one though, so I’m going to stick to romance for the moment.

So now while I’m writing, I do have one eye on my marketing: am I going to be able to market this book, does it fit well into a genre? OK so you might say that that attitude takes all the fun out of it. Not for me.  I’m loving writing romances and it started with Reunion of the Heart.  Writing it was a lot of fun, especially the editing (yes really!) and making it more romantic on the advice of my wonderful beta readers.

Writing Reunion of the Heart has given me so much more confidence in myself and my writing abilities. The pre-publication response has been wonderful.  I’ve had many people tell me they really want to read it.  Well that is just so encouraging.  I think often in life it’s easy to feel like you’re the underdog, that everyone’s doing better than you, while you struggle away and nothing comes easily.  I feel it’s especially true of indie authors: we can feel as though all our fellow writers are doing so much better than us while we’re struggling with that one paragraph or chapter that we just can’t get right.

With Reunion of the Heart I feel that even if it’s not as successful as I’d hoped, at least I’ve given it my all and had some great responses to it.  This writing journey I’m on isn’t always an easy or happy one, but it’s certainly an exciting and rewarding one.  Even though The Inheritance didn’t do as well as I’d hoped, I’ve had a number of sales and nearly 9500 free downloads.  So people have read it and that’s the important thing.  In publishing Reunion of the Heart I have nothing to lose.

See you tomorrow for the launch!