Beautiful Books #2: The Writing Process


I’ve been sharing quite a bit about the books I’ve been writing for this NaNoWriMo, and in the spirit of sharing, I’m joining in with Cait@Paper Fury and Sky@Further Up And Further In’s Beautiful Books link-up, a writerly link-up were writers get to share about themselves and their books. For this NaNoWriMo, I’ve actually been writing two books, Blood Debt, a YA dystopian where blood is used as money, and an unnamed thriller/action book involving government agents, terrorists, and sarcasm, which shall hereafter be known as Book Number Two.

Is the book turning out how you thought it would be, or is it defying your expectations?
Do books ever turn out the way you expect? Blood Debt was very loosely plotted to begin with, so I didn’t know what to expect when I started writing it. But it was certainly a bit of a surprise to see how it turned out in the end. The second half the book was a complete discovery when I was actually writing it, but I am rather pleased with the end result.

Book Number Two is a lot more plotted, and the order of events has been pretty much what I expected. But the way characters have turned out and reacted to each other, the overall tone of the book, and many of the details, have completely caught me by surprise. It’s a nice surprise, but it’s certainly not quite what I initially expected.

What’s your first sentence (or paragraph)?
The beginning of Blood Debt, while being a useless prologue that will be cut in the next draft, is a part of the book I rather enjoyed writing. So, here is the first paragraph of the book, in all it’s first draft glory.

Life. It’s controlled by blood. That red liquid rushing through your veins, the same substance that oozes out of your skin when you cut yourself, is what makes the world goes round. Renewable money, right? Pays for all your food, rent, clothes, even that coffee you stopped for on the way to work. A world where no one ever has to be poor, right? Wrong. Because when your body gets old, when it ages past the best years, you lose the ability to make blood. And then you die. Fact.

Are you a plotter or a pantser? Have you ever tried both methods and how did it turn out?
I actually have tried both methods, in this month even. Blood Debt was mostly pantsed. I had some ideas initially, and a rough idea of half the plot, but the rest of it? Yeah, I just made that up as I went mostly. I’m a pantser usually, so this was perfect for me. I have a lovely, messy first draft to clean up and turn into something nice, and I had a blast discovering the story as it came.

Book Number Two was actually quite well plotted, with bullet points, obligatory crazy notes to myself, and everything. It’s a thriller/action thing with a bit of a mystery, and goodness knows, I’m not smart enough to pants a mystery, so I plotted this one well in advance. And that’s actually been really good. I have enough details written down that I know exactly where I’m going, but not some much restriction that the book isn’t fun. Both methods have actually been working really well for me so far.

What do you reward yourself with after meeting a goal?
I don’t actually have a set reward for meeting a goal. If I’m having a tough writing day, I’ll reward myself with chocolate for reading small goals. Other days, I’ll reward myself by watching a video on YouTube between writing sprints. And a lot of evenings, when I’m finished writing for the day, I’ll play a game, or watch something and just relax and get away from the computer for a while. 

What do you look for in a name? Do you have themes and where do you find your names?
To be honest, I don’t actually look for anything special in a name. I don’t pick them based on meaning, or on a theme or anything like that. As long as it sounds like the character, I run with it. Or I pick the first name that occurs to me if I’m coming up with them on the run. Which is how I end up with three Jason’s in the same book. On second thoughts, this method of naming could probably do with a little tweaking.

What is your favourite to write: beginning, middle, or end — and why?
The middle, every time. I find it difficult to write beginnings, because I’m still settling into the story and I have no idea whether I’m even starting in the right place, and I don’t know anything about my characters yet. The middle is where it all happens, all the adventures really get underway, and the fun stuff gets going. I know a lot of writers struggle with the middle, but for me, I’ve always loved the journey through the middle of the book.

Who’s your current favourite character in your novel?
My current novel is Book Number Two, and, unusually, I actually have a favourite pair of characters, rather than a single favourite character. The first is my MC, Amber Fox, team leader of a group of government agents, witty, sarcastic, a little bit childish, and with a big heart. And then there’s her work partner Damon. I love Damon. He’s got a quiet sense of humour, is very perceptive, kind and caring, and is the perfect solid match for Amber’s flighty nature. You can’t have one without the other I’m afraid, and I thoroughly love them both.

What kind of things have you researched for this project, and how do you go about researching?
For once, I’ve actually done a fair amount of research for my novels, which was more fun than I thought it would be. For Blood Debt, I looked up things like blood typing, genetics, anaemia, how economies work (working with blood as money was slightly more difficult than I initially imagines), and the expiration date of blood. My method of researching is Google. All the Google. Then bookmarking pages, jotting down the most important information, and moving on. I am such a dedicated researcher.

For Book Number Two? Uh, I watched a lot of crime shows. That counts as research, right?

Do you write better alone or with others? Do you share your work or prefer to keep it to yourself?
As far as actually typing the words out, I type a lot better when I’m in a room on my own. I do not like to have people around while I’m writing. But I do like to write at the same time as people, generally in word sprints. I love word sprints. Sharing writing though, is a bit more iffy. I know how bad my first drafts are, so finding a bit I’m happy enough letting people see and judge is quite nerve wracking. I’ve been making an effort to share excerpts regularly this month, but usually, it’s unusual for me to share a lot of my book while I’m writing it.

What are your writing habits? Is there a specific snack you eat? Do you listen to music? What time of day do you write best? Feel free to show us a picture of your writing space!
Snacking while writing is a no-no for me. I don’t even notice that I’m eating if I’m in the zone, and if I’m not, then it’s just more of a distraction for me. But music is a must. I listen to music while I’m doing just about everything. Late morning is my favourite time of day to write, but usually I’m studying instead, so most of my writing is currently getting done in the evening. Not the best for energy levels unfortunately, but at least it happens.

And now for a picture of my writing space. This is an older one, so imagine this covered in papers and with significantly more books on the shelves and the work surface, and a cup of tea, and that’s pretty much where I work.

Now it’s your turn. Answer one of these questions in the comments! Or, if you’re also participating in Beautiful Books, link me to your post! And tell me, what is your writing space like

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  1. Yay! Another lover of middles! I too love middles because it's where all the feels happen! Blood Debt sounds like an awesome book. Seriously. I'm so intrigued. If I saw that book in a bookstore, I'd buy it. ^ ^

    I did Beautiful Books too!

    1. Yessss! All the feels in the middle. Characters are one of my favourite things about books, and middles are where you get to see everything, once you've got the know them, and before all the drama of the end begins. Definitely can be a little trying sometimes, but middles are so worth the pain!

      Aw, thanks! I do love this idea. The book, on the other hand, will need rather a lot of editing to make it reach halfway to its potential!

  2. Three Jasons in one good oh gosh that is so hilarious to me for some reason. And yay for middles! That's when all the fun stuff happens.

    1. Somehow that always happens to me. I just pick a random name in the heat of moment, and apparently my list of standby names is a lot shorter than I thought it was! Yep! That's why middles are my favourites. I'm an adventurer at heart.

  3. I love your workspace!! So organised. I LOVE organised spaces. And it was nice to see how your blog used to look. I remember it being like that for so long. c: You put that you find it easiest to write the middle - thinking about it, I actually think I find it easiest to write the beginning at end. The middle is where I need to have all my fantasy theory straightened out and it can get so confusing so quickly. Good luck with your novel. c:

    1. I love organised spaces too! In fact, I'm getting into the habit of setting my writing space out perfectly before I begin work every morning, just so I can revel in that clean desk feel before I get to work. I think there's something calming about a clean environment.

      Middles are definitely one of the hardest parts to write because of all that theory and plot that needs to be straightened out. My first drafts are probably as messy as they are because I don't plan enough for the middle. But I do love writing the middle of the adventure, and, being mostly a pantser (attempting to reform), I find coming up with ideas on the spot exciting. But it's certainly not something that works for everyone. I love seeing what everyone else enjoys, or finds easiest to write. Thanks for sharing!


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