Showing posts with label planning. Show all posts
Showing posts with label planning. Show all posts

Monday 25 November 2019

Reading, Writing, Learning and Improving...

Only a month to Christmas Day and I've just started thinking about all that I need to do.

Usually that's because November is busy with family birthdays so I don't think about the festive season until they're over.

I'm determined to get the Christmas cards into the post sooner rather than the last few posting days- which usually happens.

Since I received my readers report back from the RNA's New Writers' Scheme I've read it again and analysed what I need to concentrate on this time- I've identified my weak spots...

There are other aspects in the historical that need further thought, so while I resolve those, I'm going ahead with my original plan to do my contemporary romance idea for the 2020 NWS.

So, I've been learning more about character arcs which has helped me understand the issues with my historical romance protagonists- and for my contemporary where I'd gone astray in the first draft.

I've got a better understanding of beats in the three act structure, but need to work on the middle 50% of the story.

Our Uninvited Guests: The Secret Life of Britain's Country Houses 1939-45 by [Summers, Julie]
Image from
As I've been able to set the new story up on Scrivener from the start (rather than half way through) it's given me time to identify changes I hadn't considered before, but need.

The good news is the first 25% of this one is doing what it should do, so I've begun the rewrite on those chapters, while I continue the outstanding research items.

My current reading is Our Uninvited Guests by Julie Summers.

It was pure chance that a Google search led to a mention of it in an article; then I searched for it on Amazon to find the kindle e-book on offer for 99 pence- a definite sign I should buy it! (It's now £3.99.)

An interesting read too.

It does have relevance; indirectly...

Have you ever gone looking for a book and found it's on offer just when you need it for research?

Thursday 8 February 2018

Writing Sequentially... Until the Gaps

I'm pleased to say my characters have returned and I'm ready to resume rewriting the current work in progress.

In previous years I've had scene ideas but they've never been more than a few glimpses of action and dialogue, so I've noted them down for later use, then added them when I get to that stage.

Now I write sequentially (and have done for some years) so it's a bit disconcerting to have a scene I feel I need to write out, even though I'm not quite sure where it goes- yet.

Originally it started out as a passing thought late last year. It would give my (1802) hero and heroine an opportunity to meet socially, and that was where the idea stopped.

X months later with the return of my characters after a long break, numerous possibilities of how it can help and advance the story have occurred.

So unusually, I'm going with the write the scene down and save it for later method.

Writing sequentially has always allowed me to keep the story moving in a natural progression. Also my characters develop as the story goes along, so by the end they have changed in some way.

Perhaps it's just that I'm working out the gaps in this second draft, that were missing in the first.

Filling in those gaps in the story...

There were a couple of points where I knew I needed a scene, but didn't know what the exact content was- as in the new idea. Another early scene I know who's in it and where it takes place, but not the tone of the conversation...

I don't think I'll ever be able to write a story using out of order sections and then fit them together. My mind doesn't seem to work that way.

But I do know that I'm learning how I write a longer story; then hopefully the next one will be swifter to complete.

Are you an in sequence or out of order writer?

Saturday 23 December 2017

Merry Christmas One and All...

Goodness, where have the days gone.

(image courtesy
of Dennis Apple)
I'm still not sorted as there's presents still to wrap, and sadly a few friends won't be getting their cards until after Christmas- not enough hours to get everything done this year.

 We're almost done in the sorting and boxing department- fortunate as the Electrician starts work in 2 weeks!

Christmas Eve I'll be cooking and preparing as much as possible, so I don't have to get up early to put the turkey in the oven on Christmas Day...

Merry Christmas to all...

To all my friends and readers, I wish you a peaceful and enjoyable Christmas...

Christmas image from Pixabay.

Tuesday 6 September 2016

Lost and Found...

Saving the story...
I've now got my portable hard drive, so I'll be saving my work in progress as I go along, not just on a memory stick and a print copy (you can never have enough back-ups :D ).

There was near disaster when I discovered that one of the memory sticks lost the first three chapters of my second draft of my Nottinghamshire story. It was on the memory stick, then the next time I plugged it in, it was gone.

A writer friend suggested I download a retrieval programme and see if it could find it. Sadly it was gone forever.

Fortunately I print out the completed chapters as I go along, so I haven't lost all that work I did earlier in the year.

But it will mean retyping it into a new document. :(

So I better go and get on with it... :-)

Have you ever lost work due to digital mishaps?

Tuesday 30 August 2016


For those of you who had a Bank Holiday on Monday, I hope you enjoyed it.

I did a little gardening, but spent most of the day sorting through the memory sticks (aka flash drives, thumb drives, USB sticks) to find out what was on the unlabelled ones- not my fault... :-)

There was one stick that would no longer open on my computer, or my OH's laptop. I think I know what was on it- it was the first two chapters of an idea that just didn't work at the time. I do have one stick that has a lot images and files on, so I think that some of the lost items are also on there- and it still works.

There were quite a few duplicates- a few of the photos had three or four copies between the different sized sticks, so I was able to free up a couple of them as a result.
Holding memories and
tales to be told...

Among all these old documents I found a few stories that I'd started and either didn't finish, or the idea didn't appeal at the time. So I'll be looking at them to see if there's anything I can salvage now.

I bought some white strung tags so every stick is now labelled with subject and memory size, so I can easily find the one I want.

If you buy a new computer with Windows 10 on it, as I needed to, it will have the 3.0 USB slots. Though you might have a model with both 2.0 and 3.0 USB slots, so it's worth checking.

Fortunately my computer still opens the 2nd generation sticks I have, but that's not guaranteed on all new computers apparently, as I discovered when I was searching to find out why one of my sticks wouldn't open or be recognised.

Needless to say I will be investing in a good portable hard drive as soon as possible to transfer essential items. That way I don't have to use the one my OH bought for his computer files.

Where technology is concerned I opt for the 'change only when necessary', but sometimes you just have to do it sooner...

Sunday 4 October 2015

Setting New Targets...

After a couple of days relaxing- well sort of- I'm planning the week ahead so that I can get back to writing those last couple of chapters.

As much as I've enjoyed writing the contemporary romance, it will never be my first preference- unless an idea could only work in the present.

I'm really looking forward to getting back to my Nottinghamshire story before the end of the year; the competition entry reminded me why I enjoy it so much.

October is usually when I start considering my goals for next year.

Having put in the intensive work revising and editing the first chapter I learnt a few things about myself.

  • I can too easily procrastinate and end up wasting the day. So I'm going to set myself mini-targets for each day. No dawdling...

Of course there will be days when less will get done than others, as real life does still have to be taken into account: appointments, shopping for food, collecting medicines, get-together's with writer friends and those unexpected crisis etc.

  • Do those elements that can be classed under 'professional development'.

In some ways I've been doing this a while. Attending writers' conferences, online events, workshops, talks, and other opportunities.

I'm part of the Wednesday evening #writingchat sessions on Twitter for one hour- it's fun, but I've also picked up helpful information from the other writers taking part.

Recently I've joined Anne Rainbow's RedPen (thanks to a link provided by Patsy Collins).

  • Be more open to opportunities that occur and not be scared to take them on. 

  • Most of all I'm going to believe in myself. Entering the recent new talent competition has definitely contributed toward that.

I think that's enough to keep me going for the next twelve months... :-)

My Targets...

Image courtesy of Vaximilian and

Monday 7 September 2015

Changes to Plans...

Lots of berries on the Hawthorn...
The past week has seen a lot of plans for the last quarter of the year change - but as the saying goes, when one door closes, another opens.

I'd planned to go and take some photos in Nottingham to go with a blog post on my website on Saturday.

Just as I was getting ready to go out the door, the Saturday post arrived with an important letter I'd been waiting for, and I needed to get it sent on asap.

So by the time I'd got all that sorted and ready for the post office- then to get it recorded delivery, I didn't have time for taking the pictures I needed :( so that's on my list of things to do soon.

Sadly, the Festival of Romance weekend in November, over at Stratford-Upon-Avon, has been cancelled. Though the New Talent Competition is apparently going ahead, and the book Awards section that would have taken place at the Saturday night dinner event will be held later in November- as far as the most recent message explained.

Hopefully 2016 will be another opportunity.

There's lots of preparations going on at the writers' club for October- we have a Sci-fi night with Alex Davis and a few authors who will be there to talk books and sign copies, among other things.

And I'm determined to put in as much time as I can to finish the last couple of chapters of the first draft of the contemporary romance. It's all sat in my head, waiting.

If the berries on the hawthorn are indicative of a bad winter as folklore suggests (my OH claims the bad winter is a result of the ideal weather earlier in the year, that gave fruit everything is needed to prosper) I'll be spending a lot of time indoors tapping away at the keyboard.

I bought a delightful A4 lidded box in Paperchase, so everything I need for my Nottinghamshire historical romance can be kept together, ready for the first revision. I'm eager to get on with it...

Next weekend my son returns to University, so we'll be getting everything packed up this week. This time last year we were getting organised for his first move away from home, and now he's going back for year 2.

A new routine is about to be set-up too so I don't procrastinate, and endeavour to make the most of my free time, though some weeks will be better than others I'm sure...

Sunday 24 May 2015

Chapter Outlines Complete...

I've been lucky to have some undisturbed time today, so I've made good use of it by getting my chapter outlines written up and printed out.
It's the chapters...

I found it really useful with my Nottinghamshire novella- that was planned from the start- and even though some bits moved chapter position, it made it easier for me to work through. The plot ideas were already formed and it reduced how much was still swirling around getting in the way of the 'maybe' stuff.

As I'm already up to Chapter 12 in my contemporary romance the first few pages were done quite quickly, so the brain work started with Chapter 13.

Of course, by the next draft the number of chapters may have changed, but I'm not really too concerned about having some short chapters versus longer chapters- I go for where it feels right to end a chapter. So I may actually end up with twenty by the time it's completed!

This afternoon I've written a little over 1,200 words, and could finally see where everything was going, rather than realising I'd missed something important because my brain's too clogged up with possibilities.

Actually I was even seeing snippets of scenes developing in my mind as I wrote some of the chapter outlines...

Now I just need to get my character bios done. I do have some notes on the main ones, but I need more detail as I've discovered more about them as I've gone along; and neither my hero or heroine are quite as I imagined them at the start- she's stronger minded and daring than I thought, and he's less confident than he appears.

I'm certain that I can make much better progress on my word count once the bios are done this week...

Illustration courtesy of Stuart Miles at

Thursday 21 May 2015

Yes, I Need a Plan..

I've been thinking- seriously...
The past few weeks have been a struggle with my writing.

It's not that I've lost my enthusiasm, or lack ideas- still too many to get through- but I've realised that I'm a flexible planner; just writing the story as I go along doesn't work for me. I need thinking time...

While the current work in progress (the contemporary romance) has been evolving, I've learnt more about my characters, but they're still a bit too two dimensional at times.

It's okay when they're having an emotional scene, they come alive, but between times they flatten out because I don't know enough about them. While they talk to me I know they're holding important information back, and it's that deep down stuff I need to get to to round them out.

Also secondary characters and incidental ones have turned up as part of the plot, and while it's not essential I know a lot about the latter, I do need to know a bit more about the former.

At the moment I feel like bits of the border of the jigsaw puzzle are missing, and it's making it harder to complete the whole picture.

I also know there are important areas of research I need to clarify.

Usually I research as much as I feel I need to start with, based on the characters and my general plot outline, before I begin writing. But because I only had a few basics to start with, and a lot more questions have arisen as I've gone along, and I've had to note in the manuscript that info is needed on x.

Yes, I need to find out other information as I go along on my planned stories, but never in as much depth as I need with this current story.

I roughly know where I'm going with it, but I need a better plan, and more thorough character bios than I have at the minute.

And my historical novella is demanding attention too, the second draft has been on hold too long and I need to get back to it.

So I've decided that I'm going to spend the next week creating those detailed bios, and chapter outlines- they're not set in stone, elements can be moved around if need-be. And the really important research items will help.

I feel certain that once those are done I will make better progress, and hopefully get the first draft completed.

I now know the writing system that works for me. I just need to build on it to get the most words out of it.

Nothing is wasted, because the story will get written...

Image courtesy of jesadaphorn at www.freedigitalphotos,net

Sunday 11 January 2015

Being More Productive - Otherwise Known as Stop Wasting Time...

Trying to be more productive is the operative phrase for me at the moment.

I've found a writing system that seems to fit me, and now I just need to improve my word count...

Sadly life- or actually other people, over whom I have no control, can and will get in the way.

So to cut down on the opportunities for procrastination and make the most of the time I do have I'm going to keep a desk diary, not just a bag diary.

My printer gives me access to lots of online templates and they have printable diaries. I know I could set a desktop one, but I wouldn't see that once my browser is open, so I'm going to try a paper one that can be stuck up within my eye line.

No idea how it will work, but it will certainly help by reminding me sooner that I have appointments coming up, and not agreeing to do other things the same week I'm already busy- which is happening at the moment.

And if you need ideas on how to be more productive then I can certainly recommend 'Give Up Ironing - A Writer's Guide to Time Management' by Kathleen McGurl.

I certainly recognised a few elements I could improve on- box sets, in my case NCIS, I will say no more... :(

Anything you can recommend to improve writing output?

Sunday 3 August 2014

Using Image Boards...

As I have a number of stories in various stages of development and/or writing, I also have a lot of images in folders, and my mind.

A couple of days ago I got really fed up of having no room for the images for my Mary Street competition entry; at the end of every writing session they had to go back in the folder, and that cut the connection with the story and the characters. Plus there were numerous bits of paper slipping off my desk!

It's never been a problem with my historical based stories as I know the plots and the important images are set in my mind. But this competition entry is being created as I write, so I need the constant contact with the people I've imagined and the plot ideas in this story.

So yesterday I bought a large cork board-self-healing- and it has a surround with corner fittings so you can screw it into the wall (not that I'll be doing that with it). 

An image board-minus the images...
My images are now pinned and working on my brain,
and everything is starting to come together...

I was quite surprised how quickly I responded to having the images in one place, as every time I see the board my sub-conscious gets a jolt.

It also acts as a reminder I should be writing rather than chatting on Facebook!

Perhaps it will also help me sort out a suitable title.

I will definitely be using it for my other stories from
now on.

Do you use an image board, or do you just blu tack your pictures on the wall?

Saturday 26 January 2013

It's All In the Mind...

Well my characters and plots are in my mind. In fact there will always be one or two of them wanting attention to reveal a snippet of vital information, or a sentence of dialogue that tells me something important- but they are usually the characters who are in a different story to the one I'm currently writing!

(Jago, from my Dorset novel, popped in this morning and mentioned something that told me a little more about how his sister's death effected him, in a similar way to his step-brother- my hero, Marcus.)

Since I've started my minimum words a week target I've noticed a change in my mind-set with how I approach my writing.

Previously I tried to do longer writing sessions with the plan that I would do more of a chapter. But in fact it was the reverse, I actually got less done...

Now that I'm not worrying about it, I'm actually writing more. While I'm completing scenes in the current chapter, it's actually giving me time to think about the next bit for when I start writing again.

I looked at my chapter outlines the other day (written earlier last year) and realised that the scene I'm currently working on hadn't been mentioned in the outline.

It came about because I realised that I needed to bring Hugh and Sarah back into contact, after a short chapter apart, and there was an opportunity to do so just by developing the end of the planned scene.

As I see it, this is just my writing style developing a little further.

Twelve years ago, I would have said I didn't like planning. I needed a start and end point, then a few points I knew I needed along the way, so I'd make it up as I went along.

But now I couldn't work that way...

I know my story and my characters, and as before I have certain points that I need to include- but these are more detailed than previously; but now I see the elements that can be expanded upon to reinforce my plot, or my characters' development- a skill I didn't have before.

Also, I see where I need to concentrate on areas in Chapter 2 and 3 when I get to the revision process.

Basically I'm no longer looking at the story as a scary 50,000+ words that I need to get written, just the next 500 words of the scene, or linking scene- small bits at a time...

Now my mind says it can be done. I just have to do it.

This week's total: 1,007 words.

Sunday 30 December 2012

Are You Ready for 2013?

Hope you had a good Christmas.

I'm slowly returning to some sort of normality, despite a cold that two members of the family had over Christmas and have now given to me; but the good news is I'm breathing okay and haven't developed a chest infection, so three cheers for my inhalers...

Actually I'm starting to get itchy fingers. I want to get back to the novella, but the family are all at home, and there's little peace and quiet, so I'll be catching up on a few outstanding tasks meanwhile- why does everything that needs you to do something, or ring up, arrive on Christmas Eve when it's too late?

At least I'll be able to get straight to work when they do go back to their normal routine.

I intend to try out a few different strategies in 2013 to attempt to get more writing done.

So strategy 1: Stop procrastinating and write 100-500 words minimum each week- if I do more, great. It may not seem much, but it's setting myself a better routine.

As I haven't thought of a second strategy yet, the first one better work... :-)

I've also realised that my sense of what day of the week it actually is, will have returned by then!

I'm writing this Sunday evening, but I keep thinking it's Saturday- probably because the usual weekend tv programmes aren't necessarily on...

Hope 2012 was a good year for you. But if it wasn't, I hope you have better times in 2013.

Friday 30 November 2012

Reviewing My Year...

Do you take time to seriously look at how you've done each year? And I don't just mean waiting until January the 1st and making resolutions-they usually don't last long...

Early December is my writing assessment time - if it's not been done earlier in October/November.

Reviewing the Writing Year
I've found looking at what's worked, and what's not gone as I'd hoped, is useful.

So last year (2011) I'd only achieved 2 of my 4 targets, that I'd set myself in late 2010; so I didn't do more than make general plans.

Here's what I decided I wanted for 2012:

 So I'm going to be getting on with my novella for the remainder of the year.

This coming Saturday I'll be at Sally Quillford's Pocket Novel workshop, which I'm looking forward to and I'm sure I'll learn a lot.

Hopefully next year will be more productive.

Did I keep to any of them?

I attended the Pocket Novel workshop and enjoyed it very much. I was reassured that I'd understood the requirements, and it did make me look at a few aspects in a different way, which I've taken into my other writing.

I also came home with another couple brewing in my head.

Yes, I've been working on the novella. Not as much has been done as I'd hoped, but I'm finally getting on with it.

Has it been productive?


I completed the revisions of the short story that I intended to send to Woman's Weekly. I sent it, and a few days off the four months received the standard rejection letter. But I actually got it sent off this year.
In the New Year it will be getting another look over and being sent off elsewhere...

A previously abandoned One Word Challenge Anthology book began a new life as an e-book project, and finally became available for purchase mid-November. I have contributions in it, and Serena does too.
So that was something I hadn't anticipated happening this year...

(You'll be able to read about the anthology by the Talkback Writers in the January 2013 issue of Writing Magazine-possibly with photos of some of the contributing writers included.)

I've got the basics of a few other projects which are in line for future development and writing up- some full length, others probably novella length.

I read some of my flash fiction to an audience at the Fringe at the Ship event in Lowdham in June.

Last week I did a slot on local BBC Radio promoting the 'One Word Anthology' with a fellow contributor (Catherine Dalling).

The past six months have shown me what I'm happiest doing, and what the best system of writing is for me personally.

I have my office area- that was just something on my wish list last year.

And Serena Lake has finally made her debut, quietly...

That is a lot more than I'd decided on last year.

Now I need to consider what I want to aim for in 2013, but I've been so busy that I haven't even thought about it yet. But I will.

image courtesy of Danilo Rizutti /

Thursday 5 January 2012

Novel or Short Story...

At the moment my brain is in novel, rather than short story mode. Though I find that when I'm working on longer pieces my new ideas seem to be short story related, and vice-versa.

As I mentioned previously I've been getting on with combining all the information on my characters for my novel (before I rewrite Chapter 1) and it's been helped along by using the odd twenty minutes or an hour (as available) working on the information, between other tasks.

(I'm still waiting for the competition comments- but I hope to get them from the prose secretary via the post, soon.)

While I can't write the novel without quiet, I've discovered that combining the scattered information doesn't need the same depth of concentration as actually writing the story does; so I'm making a little more progress than I expected. And the list of questions I'm answering has given me some insights into my characters that I wasn't previously aware of.

So meanwhile, my short story attempts are on hold, but I'll certainly be making a note of this useful blog post by Sally Quilford, 'The Key Elements of a Short Story', so I can check I'm not missing something when I get back to them...

Monday 2 January 2012

Planning for My Novel...

This is actually the first Christmas/New Year holiday when I've had any quiet time to write.

As my Dorset novel is going to be getting attention this year, I decided to repeat the useful planning I did earlier in 2011 for my novella- character sheets and chapter outlines.

It's not that I don't have this information, its just not in one concise form that's easy to refer to- it's on bits of paper, in notebooks and the synopsis and first three chapters.

So I decided to start with getting all my character sheets together, and actually completed about three hours-before the computer got taken over for editing photos by my OH...

I've been using the Character Fact List from 'The Marshall Plan for Novel Writing' and found it really helpful for my novella characters.

So knowing my novel characters still had weak spots, it was surprising to realise that over the last twelve months a lot of my hero's grey areas had finally emerged from the gloom, and I now only had minor points to clarify.

My hero Marcus, has always been much clearer than his love interest, as so often my hero is the first character to step forward when I have an idea. But I think that's just how characters develop for me.

As for my chapter outlines, I do think I'll need to jiggle a few bits about, as aspects of my plot have developed in an interesting- and probably more exciting- way.

(I used to be amazed how a writer could have the whole story in their mind before they began writing, but now I can see how it works.) 

There are aspects of the plot that I haven't resolved yet, but if it works like it did with similar aspects in the novella, then I'm not too worried about sorting them when I get to them.

On Wednesday I hope to have the comments back for the synopsis and first three chapters of this novel- which won the NWC Romance Novel trophy in December.
I'm prepared for the bad bits as well as the good...