Friday, 5 October 2012

Writerly A to Z (ignoring I and Q... 'cos those letters suck)

I saw a blog the other day that was an A – Z of writer type things and I really liked it. You can find it here. I realised that it really gave an idea of what the writer was like, in terms of their personality and what’s important to them. So... I decided to do my own. I know that I and Q are missing but I really couldn’t think of things to put there. Anyway, here’s my Writerly A – Z;

A – Acceptance. It’s a big deal to me that my parents accept that I want to be a writer. Of course they push me to find a job to tide me over and to get me away from the computer but they know that my dream is to be published. It’s actually gotten to the point now that they’re so accepting that they tell random strangers that I’ve finished a novel (no word of a lie, my mother actually said this to a couple we met on holiday recently. That’s another story that I might tell another time though. If you ask nicely)

B – Blog, blogging. I actually enjoy blogging so much. Yes, I know, I completely missed two months worth of posting but I honestly just forgot. I’m sucky like that. I do still love you all though and feel very guilty for ignoring you, however accidental it was. In seriousness though I use blogging and this blog as a way to work stuff out about myself, primarily how I write. Granted I have a writing journal where I jot down specific things for projects I’m working on but it’s easy to write for myself, it doesn’t matter. Trying to make my ideas understandable to strangers is harder and it makes my ideas become clearer in my mind. Yup, basically I just ramble at you all.

C – Characters. A novel would be nothing without them. They are the plot, their actions creating the tension, the drama, the really boring bits that you just end up skimming through. I have so many characters living in my head it feels like a hotel or a concert (possibly Justin Beiber. More likely Dolly Parton). We writers need characters to play with otherwise our megalomaniac tendencies or God Complex rear their ugly heads and we start trying to take over the world. We need these characters to do our bidding, to take the beatings we dish out, to act as stand-ins for that guy in the van who cut you up on the motorway. Is it healthy? Probably not. Is it fun? Hell yeah. Writers without characters are just weird people that mutter to themselves. We need them.

D – Darklings. It was the idea of the Darklings (yes, I know, you still have no idea what or who the Darklings are because I’ve been so silent on the topic. That will change. Soon.) that actually spurred me to look into writing a series. It’s such a flexible world with so many different characters for  me to play with that it seems ideal. Granted I’ve only dabbled with one or two different books right now but hopefully, once I get some more past the planning stage I can change that.

E – Excel, Microsoft. Excel is like my brain on the computer. I use it for everything; charting daily word-counts, tracking which characters are alive or dead (yes I’ve actually had to do that with the Feral Diaries), their roles, the different acts in each novel and so much more. Without Excel I’d have so many sheets of paper lying all over the place. I wouldn’t have room to move in my bedroom or on my desk. The ease of changing entries, the limitless possibilities... I love Excel

F – Feral Diaries, The. My newest novel idea (outside of the NaNoWriMo idea). Well I say novel but really I mean something else. There’ll be more about this in another post next week but for now I’ll just say that I’m really excited about it and it has the possibility of going further than I can imagine right now.

G – Garth Nix. He’s an exceptional fantasy writer and his books helped me to get through school in my teens. I hated school but I was guaranteed that when I read his books I could slip away into a whole other world. His books also helped me to get into writing fantasy novels, encouraging me to look into writing Young Adult too.

H – humour. I’m not really that funny. I know it, you know it, hell the bus driver I see once a week knows it. I try though, in the blog posts and my novels. I don’t specialise in laugh-out-loud humour though. I’m... witty I suppose, and sarcastic and dry, very dry. It works for me though and usually the funny happens when I’m not even trying to be funny. I’ve actually considered a career in stand-up comedy if the writing thing doesn’t work out for me.

J – Josh Guess. He’s a brilliant writer. I discovered him recently when I got a couple of books for my Kindle before I went on holiday. I read his novels Living with the Dead and I couldn’t put them down. Seriously, I’d be stood at the back door, having a cigarette with my Kindle clutched there in my hands, devouring the words. The way he writes is quite philosophical at times but it’s not a boring kind of way. He challenges his characters, does horrible horrible things to them but manages to make it better without using one of the old ‘the wizard did it’ clichés. That takes talent. And he’s dedicated.

K – knitting. I knit in winter. Not summer or when it’s too hot as my hands end up sweaty, I drop stitches and the wool goes ca-ca. Right now though all I can do is straight up knitting; squares, rectangles and long scarves. I need to learn to turn a heel or a toe or even to knit a hat. I find knitting helps me when I’m writing too as I can just sit there, playing with my wool and needles and think things through for my characters. It gives my hands something to do while my brain works. And if you know me in person you know my hands and brain are always going.

L – Living with the Dead. I mentioned this above. The idea is one that I’ve seen before but never that’s lasted this long. It’s the story of a zombie apocalypse (which if you know me you know I love) that started in March 2010. The thing is that it's not just a long running novel series. It's a daily blog. Since then Josh Guess, the author, has made a post almost every single weekday. That’s over 2 years, 5 days a week. It’s incredible and it’s inspiring. Most importantly it’s a really good read. I thoroughly recommend it if you like zombies or the apocalypse (maybe like is there wrong word there). This series has given me some pretty cool ideas for the Feral Diaries too.

M – my Mum. I’ve mentioned my mum up under A but she needs to be mentioned again. She is ridiculously supportive now that I know what I want to do. She tells people she works with about me being a writer. Sometimes she even takes supplies from work that she knows they’re throwing away and brings them home to me to use if she thinks they’ll be useful. She wants to read Darkling Watch in fact. But right now... no way. Either way, she supports me, encourages me and makes sure I don’t drive myself mad working on my novels. I love you Mum.

N – NaNoWriMo. It was NaNoWriMo that helped me to realise that I seriously wanted to be a writer and that I could actually manage it. In a month I almost finished a complete first draft of Darkling Watch and I wasn’t even fed up of it. I’d been getting ideas the entire time for other stories linked to the Darklings and the characters within the novel itself and I started work on those as soon as I was done. Granted in a normal month my word-count is nowhere near that high but it’s nice to know I could, and can, do it.

O – o.S.a.M. My pet project. My baby. The webcomic that just won’t be written. I’ve been working on this idea for over 6 months now and I’ve still not cracked it. I thought I had until I found some massive flaws and took it back to the drawing board. I’ll do an entire post about this at a later date, as I’ve said in my post on Monday. But in all seriousness, o.S.a.M is my baby and I’m going to keep working on it until I crack it and manage to do something with it. Who knows, it may even turn into an illustrated novel rather than a webcomic.

P – planning. I used to do the bare minimum of planning and when it came down to writing I’d be left with huge gaping plot holes or my novel would putter out of steam. Now though I’ve thoroughly embraced planning; creating timelines, character sheets, chapter outlines. I feel awkward and lose track of what I’m writing. I know some people are pantsers and that’s really great for them but I’m just not one of them. If you are though my hat goes off to you.

R – Research. Research is my life-blood. I love researching. Sometimes when I’m researching something will spark my imagination and a whole new idea will pop out at me. That’s how my idea for NaNo this year came about. Research is key in many of my novels, dealing as they do in history and mythology. I like to make sure the information I give is accurate although often things that I research barely show up at all, usually just a line or two if that. It makes me happy though and gives my writing a bit more of a 3 dimensional feel to it. Plus, I can always use it for other novels once it’s in my head.

S – Shan, Darren. Another fantastic fantasy/YA author. It’s from Shan that I’ve been encouraged and inspired to write long running novels. Often his novels come in series of 5 or more books, each with their own individual plots but with a long running story going through all of them. It’s fascinating reading them with a critical eye, seeing how the little bits and pieces build up into one interesting story. There’s a reason most of his story series are called Sagas.

T – targets. I have to set myself targets or I never get anything done. I’m inherently lazy sometimes, not doing anything unless I really have to and having targets, whether they’re weekly, monthly or daily just gives me a reason to work. Plus I just love seeing each item ticked or crossed off the list. I plan on writing an entire post about targets and why I love them though so I won’t go into too much detail of why I do right now.

U – unexpected, the. So many of my novels evolve past what I first imagine because I end up writing unexpected things. For instance, when I started writing The Darkling Watch I never imagined that it would turn into a three book thing. Nor did I imagine that the main antagonist would be Loki and the story would be piled high with mythology. Unexpected things happening in my writing is something that I love. It makes it richer, more intriguing and just a hell of a lot more fun. It also means I generally have more work to do in the editing stages though.

V – vacations. Or holidays as the British call them. I love taking a break, going away somewhere new, seeing new things, eating new things, doing new things. More often than not the change of scenery is really good for me. I get new ideas, fix old ideas or just get stuff done. It’s nice to just unwind as well and get a bit of reading done.

W – Webcomic. I’ve tried so many times to start a webcomic and I’ve either realised I’ve jumped in too soon or I don’t actually like the story I’m working on. So now I’m taking my time. But this one isn’t about my webcomic. It’s about webcomics in general. I love to read webcomics. They’re fun, quick and a daily source of entertainment for me. Plus, they more often than not give me some kind of inspiration, whether for a tricky plot point or a new idea. I like them and read a lot of them. Speaking of, I should really get caught up with the ones I’ve missed since I went away.

X – x-rated material. I have x-rated material in the Darkling Watch. There’s probably going to be x-rated material in The Feral Diaries. No matter what I end up with some kind of sex scene in my novels. They get taken out usually. Sometimes I leave them in if they’re actually  useful to the story. It irks me though that these scenes keep popping up in my writing. Maybe I need to get laid....

Y –Young-Adult. I’ve started to branch out into writing Young Adult novels. It’s not something that I really considered before but I realised that maybe I should. The plots tend to be less tangled, the characterisation a lot simpler and they’re actually entertaining without going plot or exposition heavy. The Darklings series (not Darkling Watch) already has a couple of ideas mapped out for YA novels which surprises me as The Darkling Watch is a decidedly adult novel, what with the death and the sex and the drinking. But yes, I like to read YA novels and I think I might actually enjoy writing them too.

Z – zombies. I couldn’t mention zombies twice for other letters without including it here. I love the zombie genre, in film, graphic novel and book form. I found some truly unique ways of making it work in writing and some... well, really clichéd examples of bad zombie novel writing. The genre is so adaptable, it can be used to make a profound comment on human society or it can be just a good read/watch. It depends on how hard you’re willing to work. Hopefully, one day soon I can write an actual zombie novel myself instead of just reading them.

So there you go, hope you enjoyed reading that and seeing into the inky depths of my mind. Catch you Sunday with one of my RoW80 Check-In posts.


  1. So glad that my post inspired you to write this! It's a fascinating read, and very insightful.

    NaNoWriMo had the same effect on me, it made me realize that not only is there one novel in me, but many of them, and that all of them are worthy to be written down.

    1. Thanks, I really enjoyed reading your version of this and instantly knew I needed to do one of my own. I'm also looking forward to reading your book once it's published.