My second ‘staycation’ week of the year – a few days at home when I’ve been able to concentrate on my writing. Not wall-to-wall feverish activity but a few hours per day during which I’ve begun to feel like a ‘proper’ writer.

How so? Not having ever studied creative writing I’ve hereunto (wow the spell-checker let that go) just sort of…written. I’ve started, ploughed on, and ended when the story was done. When people (not all) have said nice things about my books it’s been slightly bemusing.

I’m certain that if I paid attention to certain people, e.g. fellow blogger-writers then maybe I could improve. And just in the last few days I’ve sat up and taken notice of three particular pieces of writing advice.

  • Notes from the League of Utah Writers’ Conference by the excellent Jae of the blog Lit and Scribbles on the essential elements of a story.
  • An essay by Sureasmel on the art of dialogue.
  • For those that bring their work to a conclusion, invaluable notes on the querying process by Aubrey Cann – thanks to the wonderful Julie Israel for bringing this one to my attention.cartoon Tolstoy

So what’s changed for me?

  • For better or worse I’ve ‘parked’ my human trafficking story at about 25,000 words. I can’t move it on and will need to revisit it in due course. A major rethink necessary.
  • I’m tearing with glad heart into a novel based in Ireland. Once more this is more than a little historical, following a germ of an idea from the terrific author Dianne Gray who is – in real life – renovating an old building that I fancy, with its busy history, holds memories within its walls.
  • For the first time I’m sprinkling a bit of faerie dust, whimsy and Celtic legend into the novel. It’s been a revelation to me how this can unlock so many more possibilities. At the same time I want it to remain plausible and believable. I wonder can I? Again the aforementioned Ms Gray regularly succeeds in doing so.
  •  I’m writing the first draft by hand. Time will tell if, as some say, the creativity flows better.
  • The thing is all over the place! I’m having a ball writing scenes and chapters, often out of sequence. My aim is to get the roughest of drafts done then go back to square one and rewrite it all, but having regard to all of the good advice I’m reading during the process. This is a real change for me. I’ve always been a one-time writer with few major alterations from the first attempt.
  • I have roughed out a timetable and aim to have this one out there by the end of next May. Maybe just e-book format this time, but, just possibly, I’ll look for an agent.

Meanwhile I’m looking forward to reading the works of some of my fellow blogger-writers, many of whom also have WIPs at advanced stages.