Questions snagged from Faye L. Booth
1. Are you a “pantser” or a “plotter?” I plan ahead to a degree – I write outlines, chapter and scene breakdowns – but how I get there is up to how I feel as I write, and subject to change.
2. Detailed character sketches or “their character will be revealed to me as a I write”? Quite detailed, I write character profiles but I discover more when I get down to writing scenes.
3. Do you know your characters’ goals, motivations, and conflicts before you start writing or is that something else you discover only after you start writing? My books are fact-based, but in my current novel the information I have is more about the background, time and place. The people I’m writing about now are real but I know very little about them – sometimes just when they were born, married, died. So despite being densely researched, the mainstay of my work is instinct and imagination.
4. Books on plotting – useful or harmful? Quality varies enormously. Can be useful but sometimes rules are there to be broken. It’s always interesting to compare techniques and habits with other writers, even if their process isn’t right for me.
5. Are you a procrastinator or does the itch to write keep at you until you sit down and work? I’m a terrible procrastinator, but I also have an over-developed guilt complex.
6. Do you write in short bursts of creative energy, or can you sit down and write for hours at a time? Short bursts – a few hundred words in an hour or two. I envy people who can trot out a thousand words a day, even if they discard most of it. I’m constantly self-editing, which means I take ages to complete a draft but it’s usually pretty much how I want it to be.
7. Are you a morning or afternoon writer? A nocturnal writer, desperately trying to write in the day. I wrote my last novel when my children were still very young, mainly during the evenings. Now they’re both at school and I expected to have more writing time, but it hasn’t quite worked out yet. I tend to do more mundane tasks in daytime, and my creative side usually kicks in around teatime – afternoons can be quite rewarding.
8. Do you write with music/the noise of children/in a cafe or other public setting, or do you need complete silence to concentrate? I used to write in the living room of a shared house, surrounded by flatmates watching Star Trek and chain-smoking. So I’m quite skilled at tuning out noise. However I do find that I’m less easily distracted when I sit quietly at a desk, alone. I may not have a room of my own yet, or money, but it’s a start.
9. Computer or longhand? (Or typewriter?) Laptop. I’m already a slow writer, and if I had to type up longhand I’d never finish anything. But I keep notebooks to jot down ideas, and occasionally I start by writing longhand if typing isn’t inspiring me.
10. Do you know the ending before you type Chapter One? Yes, but I don’t know how I’ll get there.
11. Does what’s selling in the market influence how and what you write? No, not really. I’m not quite in the mainstream, but I’m not exactly underground either. My aim is to write the kind of books I’d like to read, and to reach as many like-minded readers as I possibly can.
12. Editing – love it or hate it? I wouldn’t say I love editing but I do appreciate the results. Some writers say their first draft is the most powerful, but I usually see it as just a beginning. Rewriting, or time away to reflect, can bring out the best in any writer.