Pay It Forward · Tips · Writing

Writing Styles



There’s been a lot going around lately about Method of writing and Style of writing and how each individual author works out their stories. So here’s mine –

I carry around a notebook 24/7 for those little ideas that pop into your head in the car, in the supermarket, when you’re on the phone or when you’re out eating or listening to a song. It’s a great way to get down what I’m thinking before I forget. Which I will, even if it’s great. Especially if it’s important.

My method is a little different to others I’ve heard or seen. I start off with my idea. It can be something as simple as ‘write a story involving a wheelchair’ or ‘write a story about a magical school’, and then while the ideas are percolating, I come up with a list of names for my characters. The characters don’t exist yet, but I choose names appropriate for the style of story if it’s something old fashioned or specific. For example, if I’m doing witches or vampires, I choose old Victorian names or unusual names. If it’s a modern day romance or crime, I choose modern names. I’m one of those who likes to know the meaning of names and make them appropriate to the characters.

I have characters called Kaitlin (Pure), Damian (To Tame, Subdue) and Amelia (To Strive Or Excel Or Rival) in my first vampire novel. If you’ve read Runaway Girl, then you know that each character epitomizes the meaning of their name.

Next, I write out a brief outline, maybe 2-6 pages on a word document, about what’s going to happen in the story. I’m always brief at the beginning. Snippets of conversation I come up with, events I want to happen, and the order I want them to happen in.

Then I decide on my characters, do I want a tough cop, a goofy babysitter, an odd teacher etc, then I name them and give them personality traits. Are they cool, funky, mystical, romantic etc. I’m not the kind of person who focuses too much on how people look, but how they ‘feel’ when you read about them. How they come across. I do however keep notes on details I want to mention. If I’m writing a romance and want someone gazing into someone else’s eyes, I’ll use imagery and eye colour to make a connection. But I don’t do the whole “blonde, blue eyed, tall, skinny” description for each and every character because in a book it doesn’t matter. Readers are going to imagine your characters any way they like. Even if you describe them down to a pimply spot on their forehead or their sweaty t-shirt. Readers will make your geeky romantic lead male into Ian Somerhalder or Sean William Scott, whether you want them to or not. That’s the fun of it. But, I don’t want a character having blue eyes in one chapter and brown in the next. Inconsistencies kill the flow of a story, especially if the reader is eagle-eyed and notices.

Once the notes are done, I start writing. The first 5 chapters are always the hardest, as you have to set the scene, introduce the characters etc and make something happen or make it that something is about to happen. Then the next 5 are about having that something happen or having that something complicated by something else. After that, it’s rounding the story up to a great ending.

Once my plans are put into writing anything can happen. Names can change, ideas will change, one minute one person will say something important in the notes but in the write up it’s someone else. I tend to get the feel for the story more when I’m writing, than when I’m putting the notes together. So just because it’s in the notes, doesn’t mean it will make it into the final story. And just because it’s in the final story, doesn’t mean it was always in my notes.

How do you write?


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