Monday, 10 March 2014

My Writing Process


So, I've been tagged by MR Cosby (author of the forthcoming Dying Embers from Satalyte Publishing) in this Writing Process chain thingy. The idea is that I answer the following four questions on the same day as Martin's other chosen writer (
Mark Fuller Dillon) and then tag some other writers to continue the chain. So without further ado, the questions...

1) What am I working on?
A new collection of nightmare stories.I'm on the second draft of a new novella called Other People's Ghosts, which is about poltergeists and guilt and all sorts of dark and fun things like that... Structurally it's one of the most ambitious things I've written, because the timeline is deliberately non-chronological, and there's a lot of work and trial and error going into getting that right at the moment.

I'm also working on a short story called Premonition which is a bit of a Dorian Gray style-thing.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
God, that's a hard one to answer without sounding like a smug idiot. I'm not one to sing my own praises... I don't deliberately set out to write something 'different' or genre-bending, I think it's just a case of reading and thinking about as many books as I can (not limited to horror) and then just trying to write true to that and to my own experiences and beliefs. Weird fiction is a very personal type of writing, I think, because you rely on subconscious and non-logical judgements sometimes, so I think it's inevitable writer's personalities and sensibilities come through when they're writing. So in the sense that we're all individuals, originality comes for free. Of course this kind of 'originality' doesn't mean that it's necessarily any good...

3) Why do I write what I do?
I don't particularly feel like I have a choice, to be honest. The ideas for stories come to me - sometimes fully formed, more often a nebulous image or intriguing first line - and those are the stories I write. Of course there's conscious decision making after that, and I spend a lot of time thinking how horror fiction works and try and apply that to my work, but the initial moment of conception is pretty much spontaneous. Every time I've tried to force myself to write in a particular mode or genre, it's been a failure.

That's not to say that the initial moment of inspirations is completely beyond my control; for example I've been mulling over writing something novella-length for awhile and deliberately reading other people's work at that length before the ideas for Other People's Ghosts fell into place. So you you can try and 'hack' your subconscious. Invites and submission calls for themed anthologies work in the same kind of way.

4) How does my writing process work?
I think "process" is a rather grander word than whatever I do deserves. But usual it's a little something like this:

I mainly write all my first drafts by hand, because I prefer the speed and spontaneity, plus psychologically the words feel less fixed scribbled onto paper than neat on a screen, and so it helps me be ruthless when rewriting and editing. It forces a certain discipline because it means that every sentence gets rewritten and re-thought out. I might do a second handwritten draft to sort out the more structural problems, and then the third draft is where I type it up and fix all the sentence level stuff.

That said, neither of the two things I'm working on at the moment have followed that process at all! The above is probably my ideal process, each story deviates from it by varying amounts. 
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I'm supposed to pick three writers to keep this blog chain going, but as of yet I haven't and because I'm full of cold I don't think I'll manage to do so in time. So if you're a writer reading this and I like you (and if you read my blog then I do like you, automatically and without reservation) then feel free to take up the baton.

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