Wednesday, 11 June 2014

My Writing Process!

I was tagged by the lovely Beth von Staats to take part in the 'My Writing Process' blog tour - thank you Beth! You can find her post here!

(No What's Up Wednesday post from me this week - my week's been that dull there's nothing worth mentioning!)

What are you working on?

I'm currently working on a historical/paranormal novel called Bloodroot and Bracken, which takes place in Lancaster during the mid-16th century. The story follows a woman called Jane Ask, a Protestant during the reign of Mary I, who is accused of witchcraft during her early 20s and then tortured. During her trial she sinks, and is therefore found innocent, but she spends the rest of her life struggling with PTSD.

Jane eventually marries a Scottish tutor, a Protestant like herself who has fled London, and has four children, three of whom survive infancy. When her only surviving daughter, Thora, performs magic, Jane must protect her from herself, and everyone else, when her powers grow stronger.

How does your work differ from others of it's genre?

When it comes to historical fiction set in the 16th century, I've found that most novels tend to be about men and women who are either members of the royal family or who are some form of nobility. I'm much more interested in what life was like for the every day person for whom life was a real struggle on a daily basis. That's not to say that there aren't pieces of historical fiction about the average person - of course there are - but I think there should be more of them.

In my experience I've also found that historical fiction is primarily either completely factual and grounded, or, if fantastical elements are included, some of the historical accuracy is lost. In my novel I'm trying to reach a balance between including magic, but also keeping the story as honest as I can in terms of historical accuracy.

Why do you write what you do?

Considering I've always loved history it took me quite a long time before I considered writing historical fiction. I was raised on Grimm's Fairy Tales, Hans Christian Andersen and Roald Dahl, so my first forrays into writing were always fantastical in some respect - even now, though I am writing historical fiction, there is magic present.

I listened to an interview with Hilary Mantel - which can be found here - in which she said 'history is not behind us, history is something we move through', and that really struck a chord with me. I think a lot of people are intimidated by historical fiction when they shouldn't be; 500 years ago the world was a little different but people were still people, and they had hopes and dreams and fears just like any of us. I would love it if I were to become published and encourage just one person to no longer be intimidated by history.

I also primarily write about women - my current WIP is about a woman and her daughter, after all; romance takes a backseat - because I find women fascinating. I'm not ashamed to say I'm a feminist (nor should anyone be) and I find myself exploring a lot of feminist issues in my work; particularly because my two protagonists are threatened by the society they live in, which is a society ruled by men and the church.

How does your writing process work?

If I'm being completely honest I'm still not sure if I even know the answer to this question yet. I know that my writing process still needs a lot of work; I need to get into the habit of planning just enough so that I can sit down and just start writing a draft, but not so much that the planning puts me off actually writing the story.

I still don't feel as though I write enough - in fact I know I don't - and I don't write everyday, which I really, really should, even if it's just a few words. I'm the Queen of procrastination!

One thing I know for sure is that I will rarely start writing something unless I know how it ends. In most cases, whether it's a short story or something longer, I will even write the final line of the piece. It doesn't have to stick, it can change at a later date, but if I know what I'm aiming towards I find the rest of the piece much easier to write!

I'm never entirely certain whether I start with a character or a plot, and to be honest I think it's neither. What I usually have in my head before I start writing something is a situation or a predicament. For example, I got the idea for my current WIP when one of my tutors at university mentioned that a lot of short stories contain a sense of irony - Roald Dahl's stories are proof enough of that - and for whatever reason the first thought that popped into my head was: 'imagine if a woman was accused of witchcraft, found innocent, and then had magical children?'

Just like that, I had an idea for a story. I wrote a 5,000 word short story that I was immensely proud of, and almost all of the feedback I got was: 'I'd love to see this turned into a novel'. I've always been intimidated by novels - I was never confident that I could create a decent story that consisted of 70,000 words which were just different combinations of 26 letters - and I've also always been wary of novels which started out as short stories. Most of the time they end up looking like novels that should have stayed as short stories.

Still, I let myself mull over the idea because I'd grown very attached to the characters I'd created. Slowly, the idea began to escalate, and when I decided to do my MA in Creative Writing I took the opportunity to stretch my story into a novel. I'm still in the middle of my MA now and the story has turned into something which I really do believe is on its way to being a novel I can be proud of!

I'm going to tag anyone who wants to participate, because I'm fairly sure pretty much everyone has participated in this blog hop by now! If not, consider yourself tagged!


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