When it comes to writing I’m not a planner. I’m an editor’s nightmare!
It gives me a feeling of excitement not knowing how it’s going to end and I believe I do my best work when I sit down and write without an outline. This is NOT the way my editor would like me to write but it works for me.
The idea for The Sweet Spot came to me almost five years’ ago and I wrote the first draft within four months. It was rubbish. It then took me another two years’ to get around to the second draft and a further six months to write it. I realised I needed to add a great deal more dialogue for my characters to become truly four-dimensional. This is what I found the hardest part in the whole process.
A writer friend gave me a very good piece of advice before I started the second draft. She told me to write my conversations and then record myself reading back what I had written. It became clear very quickly that her advice was sound. Saying something you have written and hearing it back gives you a different perspective on what the reader will actually take away from a conversation.
To demonstrate how difficult I make life for myself, I wrote Sebastian’s ‘Piers Morgan’ interview first and the prologue last. I deleted a whole storyline between two characters at the end of the second draft and had to go back and re-edit the rest to make sure there was no mention of either of them or their story – they are now in book two! I also had to go back and add six link chapters where there were holes in my story. Had I written in chronological order I would have saved myself a lot of time and heartache.
The cast of characters in The Sweet Spot lived in my head for a very long time before I managed to get them down on paper. Life and work got in the way of my author aspirations. Once I started writing, each character developed in a really natural way. I wanted to make sure the interaction between them was genuine and honest, and to do that I had to see where they would take me. I always say my characters drive me and not the other way around.
I develop chapters and have full-blown conversations with characters in my head when I’m walking my dog. We go out on marathon walks twice a day and rarely bump into another soul. This gives me time to switch off from life and let my mind wander. I usually get home and start writing straight away so I don’t forget anything.
I’m often asked where I write. My answer? ‘Wherever my dog is’! When it’s warm and sunny I write in the garden. It’s very peaceful here. When I’m inside I sit in my comfortable armchair with my feet on a footstool and the laptop on my knees. This is NOT the way my editor would like me to write but it works for me!