The Writing Process blog chain

Feb 17, 2014

I got linked into this latest bloggy memey thing by Zena Shapter. You can see her post on the subject here. The idea is that writers answer four questions that talk about their work and their process and then tag three other writers to do the same. Anybody reading along gets to see all the various ways people work. If I’ve learned anything along this weird and unforgiving writer’s road it’s that there is simply no right way to go about it. “Writer’s rules” are usually bollocks and can’t possibly apply to everyone. They’re a good guide, maybe, sometimes, but there is only one rule that applies to everyone: To be a writer, you must write. Simple as that. How you go about it is as variable as the types of stories you might come up with. But I’ve ranted on this subject before, so I’ll leave it at that. In the meantime, maybe clicking through a few of these posts will help to illuminate a variety of options.

1. What am I working on?

Well, having just delivered book three of The Alex Caine Series to HarperVoyager, I currently have no deadlines. Which is a pleasant feeling, although I was enjoying the pressure of those deadlines while they were there. However, it leaves me free to work on anything I like, so I’m back to a novel I started in the middle of last year, then had to put aside to get Alex Caine stuff finished. This new novel is a standalone book, a kind of horror/noir/dark urban fantasy thing. I’m still formulating notes and getting organised, but the first few thousand words are down. It’s an exciting stage, just getting into a new project with all the possibilities that entails.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I don’t really know how to answer this. I like to think my writing voice is uniquely my own, so I guess it differs in as much as it’s an Alan Baxter book. You often see people, when asked for writing advice, give some variation of “Write the book only YOU can write”. That’s a hard thing to do, as it takes a long while to find your voice and style, but I like to think I’m finding mine.

3. Why do I write what I do?

Because it’s hella fun and it’s what I love to read.

4. How does my writing process work?

I sit at my desk and sob and cry and tear at my scalp (my hair has long since left the building) until words bleed out of my face. Well, that’s not entirely true, but it’s what it feels like sometimes. In truth, I’m a hybrid pantser/planner. I start with ideas for characters and story and I make all kinds of notes. When I’m ready to actually begin work on a book, I write down a very loose timeline of key events and then I start to write. Those key events can easily change if new ideas come to me, or the story starts going in directions I didn’t expect. I enjoy the organic process of letting my subconscious work and let the story tell itself. I try not to backtrack too much during the first draft – I like to plough on steadily until the first draft is complete. I’ll make notes along the way of things that I know will need fixing in the second draft. Then I go and fix those things in that second draft and then go through a few more drafts, fixing and polishing and caressing until I think the book is as good as it can get at that point in time. Then I send it out to beta readers and brace myself for their critique and feedback. Then I redraft again and again based on their comments and observations and hopefully I end up with a good book.

Then I start all over again. Because I’m a fucking professional. And something of masochist. But then, all writers are, really.

And to keep this things rolling, next week you’ll see posts from the three writers I tagged:

Joanne Anderton

Andrew McKiernan

Robert Hood

So be sure to check out their blogs.


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