A Sense of Place

Reuben Powell Claydon House Heygate Estate

Claydon House, Heygate Estate, by Reuben Powell. For more of his work, go to Hotel Elephant http://hotelelephantgallery.blogspot.co.uk/

When I’m thinking of a new story, I usually start with a ‘what if’ question – what if you couldn’t remember parts of your childhood? (Tarnished) ‘What if, sixteen years down the line, you bumped into the man you nearly left your husband for (indeed, your own personal ‘what if’) and you still had that deep chemistry thing going on?’ (Every Vow You Break), or ‘What if your husband died and his lover hung around in your life, claiming in no uncertain terms that you owed her something?’ (Her Husband’s Lover).… read more

Adapt and Survive – me and the #RTYDS

with Farnham Youth Theatre, about 1988. (I'm centre back). The production was Stephen Lowe's Touched.

with Farnham Youth Theatre, about 1988. (I’m centre back). The production was Stephen Lowe’s Touched. They’re in 1940s costume. I’m in 1980s.

If you have read my bio, you’ll have noticed that I have had what might kindly be called a portfolio career. This is a feature of the lives of many writers – not many of us manage to start earning money with our very first words. It also happens to many people who become parents, too – particularly the women parents – as we seek ways to allow our work and family lives to function more effectively.… read more

NaNoWriMo: are you lost?

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It’s day ten of NaNoWriMo, and if you are keeping to the ideal daily word count of 50,000/30=1670, you will be approaching the 20k mark. If so, congratulations!

I started my first two novels with NaNo, and have sped each of the others on in November. Sadly, I’m not doing it this year – I’ve just handed in the second draft of my next one and really need to have a bit of a brain defrag before I embark on the next project.… read more

Write it all down

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My three 1980 notebooks

I am a great fan of notebooks. I have always kept what I call an Everything Book: just one journal that I carry everywhere with me in which I put everything: notes taken at meetings; ideas for stories;  word or line sketches of things that take my fancy; eavesdroppings; doodles (rather too many doodles, if truth be told).

Why an Everything Book? Well, I am an alphabetiser, an organiser, a categoriser. By recording everything in just one place, I save a lot of energy that would otherwise be wasted by deciding where to put it.… read more

How NaNoWriMo stopped my fear and helped me find my fourth career

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(This post expands on a NaNoWriMo pep talk I wrote a couple of years back).

Are you at the end of the first week of NaNoWriMo 2013? If so, congratulations!

If you are (and even if you’re not), it’s likely that you will be very familiar with this scary thought:

When you start to create something, YOU ARE FACED WITH INFINITE POSSIBILITIES.

You may sense the germ of an idea, a character, a colour, a bit of story or a setting, but beyond that, once you sit down to start whatever it is you’re making, anything can happen; you’re simply finding the best path through the whole universe of choice.… read more

The First Reader

What a first reader looks like

What a first reader looks like

When the first proof copies of Cuckoo were distributed, I likened the feeling to taking my knickers off in public.**

But I have found something in this writing process far more challenging even than that, and two weeks ago, on holiday on France, I had to go through it again.

The most difficult part is the very first read.

Well, not the very first read – I do that myself, obviously (and god knows, that’s hard enough).… read more

TARNISHED publication day!

It’s a funny old business, publication day. Particularly when it’s your third book and you’re writing a fourth, and the deadline is looming.

For your first novel you go out and have a long, boozy lunch, ‘possibly’ followed by an ill-advised walk along the seafront. Your second might see you nipping out to the pub and perhaps sharing a bottle or two of champagne in the evening with a couple of mates.… read more

About Plotting and Planning

Last week I ran a three-hour MA class on plotting at City University. Apart from being one of the scariest things I have ever said yes to (and I admit this as a constant yes-person), planning the session coincided with a small sea-change in my working process.

If you have even glanced at some of my previous posts, you will have gleaned that, in NaNoWriMo parlance, I am a pantser, not a plotter.… read more

TARNISHED proofs arrive!

This is one of the most thrilling moments in the life of an author. Well, I suppose winning a major literary prize – say the Booker – might almost be up there… It’d be good to find out.

But really! Back down to earth, Crouch. This is the moment. You have spent the past year grappling with the contents of your mind, trying to give this story you have to tell shape and form and voice, feeling sometimes exhilarated, more often downhearted, wilting with guilt about leaving it alone for more than a day, feeling sick if youdon’t hit your deadlines; dreaming and thinking and scribbling and writing and writing and rewriting and cutting and slaying.… read more

Why editors are important

When I finished the very first draft of my first novel Cuckoo at the end of NaNoWriMo 2008, even I knew that I needed to do a lot of work to get it into a shape where I could show it to anyone else. After all, it had only taken me thirty days to produce. The pants to pearls ratio was pretty high.

So I worked on it for another ten months, until it was the best it could possibly be.… read more