Sometimes it’s easy to write a scene, and occasionally is difficult. Then there are those scenes in books that are a real bear to write, that authors agonize over and rewrite again and again. thus the question for this week is:
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Here are their unedited responses.
Click on a photo to go directly to the author’s Facebook page.
What is my most interesting writing quirk? That is a fascinating question.
First of all, I’m not one of those people who likes noise or music while I write. I like it to be quiet. Also, I have have the right environment. I’ve created the perfect writing room for me. I set it up with two desks, and I use them depending on my mood. One is my serious, nonfiction writing desk, and the other is my normal, more humorous writing location. One wall is filled with butterflies, yes, butterflies. Another wall is solid bookshelf. And on top of the bookshelves are fantasy figurines – fairies, dragons, dinosaurs, porcelain skulls, and so on. Sometimes, when I’m trying to think of an idea, I look around my writing room and before you know it, something has come to mind.
I’m also very aware of posture, and I am ensure that I schedule my time so that every hour or two I get up and take a long, 1 mile walk. Sitting in a chair for too long is not healthy for a lot of reasons. Besides, staying focused on the computer screen causes migraines, depression, anxiety and other symptoms. Getting up, walking around and looking at things is the best way to free my mind.
The other thing I like to do is network with other writers to see what I can do to help them in their writing journey. I’ve written several training courses, books, and give online webinars to help others achieve their dreams.
I’m a Nyctophile, someone who finds comfort and peace in darkness, always have been since I was a child. As such, I’ve discovered over the past years that my best work comes out once the sun sets. For whatever reason, that’s when I’m able to access the deeper recesses of my creative conscious and stuff I didn’t even think was possible just appears on the paper- and usually it’s better than whatever I was drafting at the time. I don’t know what it is about me and the night, I believe it’s a me and spiritual thing. The most intense scenes- the plot twists and mind-messers, I save them for the all-nighters with a few spiced cinnamon candles, my favorite drink, and unhinging my mind and letting loose whatever wants to come out.”
I like to have a jokey title at the ready before I start writing a book. Best Murder in Show emerged as a throwaway line in a bit of banter with a Dutch friend who was asking me about the prize categories in the traditional horticultural show held annually in the English village in which I’ve lived for most of my adult life. As soon as I said the phrase “Best murder in show”, I thought “That’s it! There’s my title!” I also enjoy picking fun titles for each chapter.
The titles of the five Sophie Sayers Village Mysteries published so far are:
Best Murder in Show
Trick or Murder? (set at Halloween)
Murder in the Manger (Christmas special)
Murder by the Book (set around Valentine’s Day)
Springtime for Murder (you don’t need me to tell you when that one’s set!)
The next to be written will be Murder Your Darlings, set at a writers’ retreat in summer, followed by Murder Lost and Found, about a dead body found in a school’s lost property cupboard. These two should be available next year.
This is hard!
I’m not sure if you want a quirk in my craft or just when I write. If it’s when I write, I have to have a cup of green tea sitting on my desk to sip, and when I’m editing/revising/doing the last read through, I have a dish of nibbley food: almonds, almond M&Ms, carrots, pretzels that I munch on as I read and change things. It’s a bad habit, but I can’t seem to do the read through without nibbling. Craft is harder to figure out…I can’t jump ahead like some writers when they think of a scene. I have to write linear- straight ahead and no jumping around. I prefer re-reading the previous day’s work and moving on from there. I don’t like being critiqued face-to-face. I like to read what my critique partner has to say and digest it before having to comment back. If they say something that irritates or riles, because the word/characters are special to me, I can’t hide it. So I prefer to get it in writing and think it over and realize they may be right.
First I have to know everything I can about my main characters; looks, ages, birthdays, schools, parents and sometimes grandparents. I spend a lot of time in their heads and I can be seen, lips moving in silent conversation when out at the supermarket. It helps keep the isles clear.
I write everything out long hand in capital letters first before I type it up on Scrivener. I like to use a particular kind of pen; it’s one of those ones with four colours that I can interchange if I need to add in something of a different mode. I have a stack of them all over the house. I like to use interesting note books to write in. The one at the moment has a silver holographic background with a photographed fat fistful of bright round lollipops in the foreground. I can write anywhere but my favourite place is my big yellow armchair with a cat at my side.
I’ve already covered a couple of my writing quirks: not reading a lot of novels although I write them, and writing the ending of my novels very early in the process. So, besides researching facts to death, another quirk is that I do at least 90% of my writing in bed. I have a home office but I rarely use it since my wife and I quit publishing Keep Rockin’ Magazine. Since I’ve retired, I wake up in the morning, grab my laptop that’s next to my bed and work on my current novel, usually well into the afternoon. And often, I write more after I go to bed at night.
There are a lot of character worksheets out there that help authors develop both main and minor characters. However, I find these tedious and uninteresting. I prefer to interview my characters … that is, ask questions, such as “Where were you at the start of the novel?” or “What do you think of (the protagonist, antagonist, etc.)?” I try to imagine that character responding and record not only their “answers,” but how I perceive them reacting to the questions, i.e. mannerisms, what information they hold back, what questions elicit strong emotions, etc. When I explain my character development process to non-writers, they look at me like I’m crazy. However, this has been a very effective means for me to weed out minor characters. The major characters will give me so much more than a simple answer—they’ll give me attitude and that’s what I’m looking for.
I usually write all day Saturday and Sunday when I’m working on a novel. I have a portable writing desk and I make myself comfortable on our sectional sofa surrounded by my ipad for thesaurus needs, coffee or diet soda and my three bulldogs and their various antics.
My favorite part of the day is when I can wind down a writing session with a glass of white wine. In the summer I take it out onto the deck and breath in all the beauties of the outdoors. In the winter, I get the fire going and watch nature through large windows and skylights. It’s almost as though my diligence during the day has earned me the right to relax and enjoy nature – and wine.
Much of my first novel was written on a ski trip to Utah. After a day of skiing, I would sit in front of a fourteen-foot high window in our rental house, drinking white wine, gazing at the mountains and waiting for deer to pass by. It was amazing how much work I was able to get done in an hour or two each afternoon.
Conversely, when editing, I sit rigidly at the desk in my home office and plow through chapter after chapter. Even those areas that require a fair amount of writing do not get me to budge from my dedicated station. And I don’t look out the windows located behind me,
While writing or editing, I constantly save my work. I save two copies to a flash drive and two copies to my desktop. Whenever I get up to go to the bathroom, take a phone call, grab a bite or get out of the way of a determined bulldog – I save my file four times, sometimes eight when I want to double check. Hmmm, I guess I’m quirkier than I thought.