Friday, September 27, 2013

Nhys Glover – How to Write by the Seat of Your Pants

How to Write by the Seat of Your Pants: Outline or No?

by Nhys Glover

Writing is an Art not a Science, in my book, (excuse the pun!) When I write I’m accessing another level of Consciousness that is far wiser than me. I call that part my Muse. She hates any kind of boundaries set on her. And let’s face it; genre fiction has always had too many structural limits placed on it. I can remember getting the Mills and Boon formula, years ago, and thinking… I can’t write in a box. So I decided then and there that I’d never try to write to fit someone else’s requirements.

Don’t get me wrong, like any field of the arts, the writer has to learn her craft. She has to understand character and plot etc. She has to be able to string a sentence together in an intelligible and meaningful way. But once all that is learned, I think it’s better to throw away the trainer wheels and just trust your Muse.

My first drafts are always done with only a vague idea about where I’m going.  I just start writing like mad trying to keep up with the story as it unfolds for me. I feel more like a secretary taking notes, or a reporter at the scene of a crime, than an author of fiction. And I’m driven by the urge to find out what’s going to happen next, much as I am with any good page-turner I’m reading.

When I got the idea to write about the Titanic it was the 100th anniversary of that event and I felt I wanted to rescue people, in the same way as I’d rescued children from the Death Train in Savage. Because it was a titanic task I was setting myself, (I’m not usually this punny,) I knew that I couldn’t do it from two character’s POV, as I would in a normal romance. So I decided to entwine three love stories into the framework of the adventure. That gave me eyes in First, Second and Third Class.

Then I did my research… lots of it… until I felt like I knew the Edwardian period as well as I know my own, and the Titanic like an old friend. I had plans of each of the 8 decks stuck to my living room wall for the whole time I was writing the novel.

And then, finally, I hand over to my Muse. That’s the point when I start hanging on tight as the story takes off like a bolting horse, and writes itself.

That’s the fun bit! The second and subsequent drafts are when the left hemisphere takes over from the right. And I’m not a big fan of my brain’s left hemisphere, I have to admit. Rewrites are when I have to stop playing and start getting pragmatic. Does this sentence work? Am I rabbiting on here too long? Have I got inside the character’s head enough or too much? Where the heck do these damn commas go!

And once I’ve done that, I put the book aside for a month or two, and then go back to it with fresh eyes. Uploading onto my Kindle helps get objectivity. It’s someone else’s book I’m reading then, not mine. I can see more mistakes.

But actually, as far as the bulk of the book is concerned, I have to do very little to it. My Muse is cleverer than me, as long as I get out of her way and set no limits on her. I think she’s wonderful! I only hope I do her justice.

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Genre – Romance

Rating – Between PG13 and R (sensual but not erotic)

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