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Friday, April 27, 2012

Recipe for Writing

One thing I have learned in my years of honing the craft of a writer is that no two writers write the same way. By that I mean we all have a different method to achieve the outcome. The subject of Plotters vs Pantsers is often discussed on blogs.
I prefer to use the term "organic" writer. I have tried sitting down and plotting a novel in the sure and certain knowledge that it will save me a great deal of time and anguish but as I stared at the pile of cards/large sheet of newsprint or whatever method plotters employ, I realised I was now completely bored with the story and it would never be written. For me the joy in writing is watching the plot and characters unfold like peeling back the layers of an onion.
I will begin with a scenario, a basic cast of characters and a few stopping off points along the way. The great thing about writing romance is you do already know the ending. The hero and heroine will end with the promise of a HEA (Happy Ever After). It's how they get there and what difficulties will they overcome that is the fun part.
I have titled this blog the Recipe for Writing because I view my 'methodology' as pots on a stove top.
My first draft is my equivalent of "plotting". I begin at the beginning and go on until I come to the end, generally without much editing. I throw in the basic ingredients and the result is something vaguely book shaped. It has a beginning a middle (although that may be prone to sagging) and an end. I then need to put it away for a month or two...or in my analogy...put it on the back burner to simmer.
If I am being good, then there will be at least 4 pots on this stove of imagination (see picture below)...all books at various stages of production. By putting my rough draft to the back it means that another story moves forward for its final revision, polish and submission. Dish it up to a publisher and off it goes...
Circle the pots again. The next pot has been revised once but needs a deal more spit and polish. Add some more spice, stir it up and back it goes to the back burner.
Now my rough draft is back again. I look at it with cold, hard eyes and begin the job of adding in those extra ingredients, beating it to a smooth paste, bringing it to the boil and then turning down the heat. It is beginning to look like a book.
And so on through the creative process.

That's just the way I work. If I talk to other writers they couldn't bear the thought of not sticking with the one story from beginning to end and back again until it is absolutely perfect and are faintly aghast at my method. However I think that's the wonderful thing about writers - we are all different.

Friday, April 13, 2012


Coming in August 2012 - a new novel by Alison Stuart
published by Lyrical Press

Set in 1923 against a background of the Great War, grieving war widow, Helen Morrow and her husband’s cousin, the wounded and reclusive Paul are haunted not only by the horrors of the Great War but ghosts from another time and another conflict. A coded diary provides the clues to the mysterious disappearance of Paul’s great grandmother in 1812. As the desperate voice of the young woman reaches out to them from the pages, Paul and Helen are bound together in their search for answers, not only to the old mystery but also the circumstances surrounding the death of Helen’s husband at Passchandaele in  1917. As the two stories become entwined, Paul and Helen will not find peace until the mysteries are solved.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Lucky No 7 Meme

Thanks, Anita Davison, for joining me to the Lucky No. 7 Meme. I"m still not entirely sure what a "meme" is but,  hey, I am one of the world's great "joiners" so here we go.

*go to page 77 of your current WIP
*go to line 7
*copy down the next 7 lines/sentences as written and post them on your blog or website
*tag 7 other authors
*let them know they've been tagged

The following is an extract from my soon to be published novel GATHER THE BONES... (August 2012)
In the late afternoon, Paul abandoned the library and adjourned to his own rooms. He sat at a table by the window, a pencil in his mouth and his right hand curled around a glass of whiskey, looking at a sheet of paper on which he had scribbled some notes for his translation of “The Iliad.”
“I knocked but you didn't answer”
Paul started, nearly knocking over the whiskey. Helen stood with her hand on the door handle.
“Come in,” he said. “Sorry, I was a bit preoccupied. When did you get back?”
“About half an hour ago. I brought the cigarettes you asked Sam to get,” she said.
“Thanks, leave them on that table.” He waved a hand in the direction of the small table. Helen set the packet down and crossed over to the window to join him.

OK...that probably wasn't the most rivetting excerpt. It gets more exciting I promise!

Tagging love to be shared with (in no particular order):

Enjoy the Extracts!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Richard Lovelace and the Cavalier Poets

Over at Hoydens and Firebrands  this week I am writing about the most romantic of the cavalier poets, Richard Lovelace.

Richard gave everything, including his life, to the King's cause. I wonder how different it would have been for him if there had been no war and he had lived out his days on his estates in Kent, scribbling turgid, romantic verse that would have long since been forgotten. Sadly he is remembered for the tragedy of his life that allowed him to pen these beautiful verses:

To Lucasta, Going To The Wars

Tell me not (Sweet) I am unkind,
That from the nunnery
Of thy chaste breast and quiet mind
To war and arms I fly.

True, a new mistress now I chase,

The first foe in the field;

And with a stronger faith embrace
A sword, a horse, a shield.

Yet this inconstancy is such

As you too shall adore;

I could not love thee (Dear) so much,
Lov'd I not Honour more. 

And this beautiful version of To Althea from Prison by Fairport Convention.

Post Script:  Elements of Richard Lovelace were written into the character of Kit's friend, Fitzjames, in The King's Man.