Sunday, 16 October 2011


Life's road has many detours and I'd like to share with you, in my second blog, the process of my experience, writing my first books. As you have read in my first blog, I knew what I was writing about in the first chapter of the trilogy I'd started. What next? I had no idea how anyone else wrote, so I tentatively stepped onto, the most exhilerating learning curve of my life.

There were important decisions to be made. That dangling carrot, just out of reach, became my goal but I quickly realised, if I actually caught it; game over for me. This being a totally new experience, I decided not to make any monumental plot and character decisions and run with whatever popped into my head. I'd already scrapped four thousand words, once, which changed everything and set me on a more exciting road. Did it hurt to kill my creations? No. I wasn't scared to hit the delete button now. It obliterated what sounded rubbiish, so fast - feeling a fool, lasted for a second and it was gone; leaving the carrot back in my thoughts and just out of reach; begging me to catch it again.

Once the trilogy books were finished I wanted to write a series and decided to attack it in the same way because it was thrilling for me to write like this; by the seat of my pants. I wrote a sentence with an idea that appealed to me and came up with a good title; hoping it would keep everyone guessing and intrigued. I sat down and opened up a Word document and typed whatever came into my head, waiting seconds for the next branch to grow from it. That process, sending me on a diverse path with no idea where it was going or where it would end.

Don't get me wrong, I went back when I finished a scene and filled in or deleted things, which halted the flow. It was totally unexpected I could write this way and quickly found out I couldn't do it, if there were any distractions. Focus for me is key. When I'm writing, I sometimes look sideways, to make sure I'm still in my room. It's like being in a dark tunnel, with only the screen in my vision and thoughts pouring out of my head. I touch type, thank God, and the flat bed of the notebook I write on, has sped this up, too.

Writing crime fiction is challenging, but I love it even more than creating the first three books. I have to be more diciplined because I want the books to read fast and not seem laboured at all. I've found a formula that works for me. I keep a list of characters, noting when they're introduced into the books and leave chapter and page numbers beside them. I've got four books inside my head and they run on, from one to the other, without a break. I'm always referencing conversations the characters have had, in the earlier books and have to recall every detail quickly, so the reference in the texts has been invaluable to me.

I won't pretend it's been easy; it's not. I write large, five or six thousand word chapters and then write a synoopsis, so I can refer back to it quickly and not have to trawl through the books looking for something. I couldn't write a short book if I tried. All of them have been over a hundred and thirty thousand words and if I'm away from it, for any length of time, I read the last two or three chapters, to get my head in their space, before I carry on. I may read each book fifty times before they're finished, ensuring continuity isn't lost, as that could ruin everything for the reader.

I've written them in a way that all of the books, even from the middle of the series, reads like a stand-alone book. It's the only way I can work it and not get into a muddle.

I hope the formula I use may help someone who's stepping onto that learning curve, for the first time, like I did. It's worth it to develop a system that works for you. Sticking to it and developing mine has brought me tremendous joy, so I can assure you, it's well worth the struggle.

Thank you for reading my blog and call in anytime, to my unexpected world of writing.


  1. I always find it interesting to learn about the writing process for other writers. Sounds like you have quite a bit going on to manage. Great that you found a system that helps you keep track of everything. The devil is in the details as they say and it is essential for us to keep track of all details.

    Wishing you the best of luck.

  2. I started an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of the character intros and major plot points as they come up. I couldn't do it without that. My page count changes often as I add into the story, so I refer by Chapters and then can usually easily find what I'm looking for. Thanks for sharing Andrew. I'm looking forward to reading your books when they come out.

  3. You have just described the creative process, my friend. It's an intuitive adventure not an intellectual one. And since the intuitive is our best side, what fun to play in that world more often. Keep on!

  4. I look forward to the day when we can all slap ourselves on the back, all of us twitter friends and blog followers, for the great creative journey we're still on. This is just the beginning for you, as well as me and many others, and don't ever give up! How cool is this new world, huh?

  5. Sounds about right. I tend to write by the seat of my pants as well. Although I often step back and evaluate where I am and make sure all the points are lining up. I can't seem to write a short chapter or book. But I write fantasy so hopefully I can get away with that. *grins* I love Red mojo mama's idea about the spreadsheet. I've been graphing it all out with cards and paper. Old school! Looking forward to hearing about your success at the end of your journey.

  6. Sometimes my life feels like crime fiction. For lovers of the written word, there are few things more marvelous than writing. I must agree with Landon; bloggers/writers are a very supportive group. I'm new to Twitter but learning fast. It's less competitive in the writing world. I like that. Love where you are going and happy to watch as you get there.

  7. Like you, I find this world absolutely, unequivocally fascinating!! Kudos on your series and much success to you! You offer great insight in this post and I will be sure to check back regularly!