I stumbled upon this writing tag a while back, and though I wasn’t tagged, I loved the questions and thought I would answer them.
So here goes…
What comes to you first: plot, setting or characters?
This is a bit of a tricky one to answer since I normally get a scene idea completely detached from a plot that comes to me first. It may be a key scene, or just something that may be a bit silly and doesn’t end up in the book. Out of that, I start to develop the main characters, which leads me to coming up with more scenes which reveals the plot as well as more about the main characters and other characters as well as the setting. When planning, I jump from one thing to another.
How long have you been writing?
I think it was when I was about 10 years old and having read Harry Potter. Being able to put a face to an author name made me realise that it was something I could possibly do myself. Back then, my stories were awful Hogwarts self-inserts and rip-offs, but I really enjoyed writing those and they were just for myself. Throughout school, I enjoyed creative writing, until one teacher put me off it (and talk about that in another question). When I was at university, we had a module on creative writing, and that reignited my passion for writing. I dabbled in a bit of fanfiction as I planned a novel of my own. It wasn’t until I participated in NaNoWriMo in 2014 and had finished my first draft the following July that I first thought that I could actually do this whole writing thing.
Self-publish, traditionally publish, or never publish?
The dream is to get traditionally published. However, saying that, I have looked into self-publishing.
Do you do writing groups? Classes?
No. I don’t even know of any near me. I did look up courses at the local college, but they don’t do any creative writing stuff.
Edit as you go or edit after?
Edit after every time. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t get anywhere with the novel. When I write, if there’s anything big I do need to edit, I make a note of it and then carry on writing as though I’ve already made that edit. I also like to have the whole of the story written first, so when I do go back to edit, it’s like I have most of the puzzle fitted together, enough so I can see what the picture is meant to be, but still have to fit in the rest of the pieces.
What draft are you on?
Draft eight according to my computer, but I have a feeling that I have a couple of really early drafts that I didn’t save a separate document for, overwriting them instead.
Which part of writing do you need to improve most on?
There are a few phrases that I use as a bit of a crutch and need deleting heavily. The dialogue in my first drafts tend to be a bit like this video of the 10th Doctor although I am now better at preventing it in my first drafts! Also, adding action alongside dialogue, but that’s what editing is for!
What’s the best feedback you’ve ever gotten?
When I wrote fanfiction, just any positive feedback gave me joy, especially if they found it funny. Even better when they said they laughed out loud!
On a bit of a related note, the funniest feedback I’ve had when I wrote fanfiction was that the reviewer didn’t like me but they really enjoyed my work. They had a grudge against me because I correctly predicted something on someone else’s fanfic (not that we knew it at the time) and they sent me a really rude message about it. I think they read my stuff to try and get some more ammo, but ended up begrudgingly giving me praise. I deleted the comment, but now I wish I hadn’t.
I’ve shared what my WIP is about, and I’ve had a few people say they want to read it, which reassures me that there are some people out there that would want to read my book!
The worst feedback?
It’s what caused the loss of my love of writing for several years, and makes me angry to think back on it.
It was when we were doing the creative writing module of our GCSEs, and writing a short story was the first piece of coursework I had to do. My teacher ripped apart my writing, and even made fun of it, in front of the whole class. For someone who was incredibly quiet at school, and absolutely loved to write, this was a mortifying experience. Not only that, what I had written wasn’t even a completed first draft, nor had we been given time to plan. She’d gotten us to write an exciting opening, then off we had to go to write the rest. Even I wasn’t too sure about how the story was going to pan out. If she’d taken me aside after class, or had written this part isn’t working, how about trying x, y or z, it wouldn’t have been so bad. As a result, I was put off writing for a good few years. No teacher should ever rip apart a child’s work like that, and it makes me angry that she did that.
The only consolation was that she retired at the end of the school year and my class had a new teacher. My new teacher (who was also the head of the English department) was much better and even gave us the option to re-write our short stories since we’d improved while having her. I refused, not wanting to see that piece of writing again. She also remarked our coursework after she’d had a look at it and admitted that the previous teacher had marked us too harshly. I never asked if my mark improved.
As you can tell from my long response, I’m still bitter about it.
What is one idea you haven’t written yet and why?
I have an idea for a historical novel about a man who is the heir to an estate and is secretly a highwayman. It was intended to be a spin-off of my current WIP, but then realised that who I thought was one character, was in fact two different characters, each with different stories. It hasn’t been written yet because I’ve been focused on my current WIP, but I do have a Word Document with some planning as well as a Pinterest board for it – although that’s currently set as Secret.
Do you NaNo?
Yes I do and I love it. I even participate in the Camp NaNo events. My first NaNo was in 2014, and I decided to write a half planned novel I wasn’t too fussed about as a practise run before I attempted a series that I obsessed about. Long story short, I fell in love with my NaNo 2014 project and that other series hasn’t had a single word written for it… and probably never will.