Writing Process – Blog Rolling, Rolling, Rolling

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I was “tagged” to take part in this blog hop by Simon Stirling, who posted about his own writing process on his own blog last week.

Simon passed on to me the four questions that writers are invited to answer as part of this blog tour.

So, here goes …

1. What am I working on?

I am currently working on the fifth Robert Young mystery with the working title of The Last Dance. The story, very briefly, is a serial sex attacker is targeting women at house parties held by members of Edinburgh’s upper classes. Robert is engaged to clear a servant from the charges by the man’s employer. Not because the employer is particularly worried about saving his man from the noose but rather doesn’t want the stain of the crime being associated with his own name.

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

As far as I am aware I think I am the only author who is writing a series of murder mysteries set in Edinburgh at that particular point in time.

The main difference from most other books set in Scotland during the period of the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745 is that my main characters are either Whigs and opposed to the restoration of the Stewart monarchy or are ambivalent and simply want the civil war to happen elsewhere. Most other books tend to take the Jacobite point of view which is understandable as everyone loves the romantic view of the misty Highlands with heroic kilted warriors facing a relentless and ruthless enemy. I made the conscious decision to lean more towards the other side of the argument simply to avoid following the well trodden path laid by others.

3. Why do I write what I do?

I write mysteries set in Edinburgh in the 1740’s because it is a period of Scottish history familiar to many people even if is only from the shortbread tin image of Bonnie Prince Charlie. It was a period when Edinburgh was still basically a medieval walled town prior to the development of the Georgian New Town although there were new suburbs slowly being developed to the south of the city just beyond the old Flodden Wall.

The city was only a mile from east to west and half that distance north to south but contained some 70,000 people living cheek by jowl. It was that feeling of the population being heaped atop each other in towering tenements skirting narrow stinking, dark wynds and closes which really appealed to me. The Old Town has that air of beauty and mystery combined to this day so it was the perfect setting for stories which hopefully can be enjoyed by anyone who likes a well paced adventure with the clues to solve every crime carefully placed for the observant reader to discover and get to the identity of the criminal before Robert Young does.

Personally I really dislike reading a crime novel where at the big reveal the investigator unveils clues which had never been mentioned earlier or makes a huge leap without anything to support the argument to unmask the killer. That makes it impossible for the reader to solve the case themselves and spoils the whole thing for me.

As long as the clues are all given during the book it doesn’t matter whether the reader identifies them all or not, as long as they are are then they know you are not cheating them from having the chance to solve the mystery.

4. How does my writing process work?

The first thing is the characters for me. I know them so well now that they have become friends who I have to protect and care for even if they do tend to do their own thing once the writing starts. I always work out the plot from beginning to end prior to starting writing down to the level of what happens in each chapter. Unfortunately the characters themselves tend to take over so the only things which remain unchanged from originally plotting the story to typing The End are the first scene and who the guilty is. Anything else is pretty much fluid no matter how hard I try to force people to stick to the script!

When I am actually writing I normally sit down at my netbook at lunchtime and will write for on average four or five hours stopping only for regular doses of strong coffee. I need to have the television switched off as it is far too much of a distraction with its pretty flickering colours and images urging me to stop and look at the pictures.

Music however is a different story. I work better if I am listening to my favourite music and that can be anything from classical pieces such as Pachabel’s Canon in D to god old fashioned British Heavy Metal such as Iron Maiden through to folky stuff such as the wonderful Birdy and her song Wings. Mumford and Sons, Marillion, Hawkwind, Big Country, The Clash and a hundred other acts all feature regularly on the soundtrack to every book as I write them.

The biggest secret to any writing process for me is simply this – don’t set yourself unrealistic deadlines. As an Indie author you are in control! You set the targets and create your own goals. Don’t expect to become an overnight success and have Hollywood knocking on your door demanding the right to turn your book into a blockbuster movie. Do it for fun. If you enjoy writing your book then there is more chance that people will enjoy reading it.

I now nominate Stephanie Moore Hopkins who is writing her début novel and can be followed on her blog here.

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One Response to Writing Process – Blog Rolling, Rolling, Rolling

  1. …good piece, Stuart … cheers , that man 🙂

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