My Writing Process

Richard Castle: Writer! (got to love a bit of Nathan Fillion)

Richard Castle: Writer! (got to love a bit of Nathan Fillion)

Last week I was kindly tagged in the My Writing Process blog tour by the lovely Karen Soutar, so now it’s my turn to answer four questions about how I write.

You can read all about Karen’s process here.  She’s from my favourite part of the world (Scotland, lucky her!) and when she’s not teaching people to drive, being pestered by her cats for second breakfast or rocking out, she’s writing all kinds of fantasy, paranormal, horror and erotica (some of the best mixes!). You can read more about her at

Let the Q&A begin!


What am I working on?

It wasn’t until the other day when I told someone else the answer to this that I realised just how much I have on my plate. I’ve always worked on long projects, I’m a novelist at heart. I’m just putting the finishing touches to the first in a fantasy trilogy before playing the submission game. I’m also writing the first draft of the second book and as of Saturday 1st March, I will be rewriting a paranormal fantasy novel that I actually finished a couple of years ago but had something drastically wrong with it.

As of late last year I also started to focus on short fiction, and am now aiming to submit at least two short stories to magazines a month.

Keeping on the fiction track, I’m coming to the exciting (and scary) part of another project which will be unveiled on this blog in the next week or so, hopefully.

Due to various reasons I’ve also started considering non-fiction writing, although this is still in the very early stages, but I’m sure there’ll be more about that here in the coming months (I don’t want to say just yet in case I jinx it).

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Cor, that’s a question! To be honest, I don’t think I can give a proper answer. There are so many fantasy, science fiction and paranormal books out there that I can’t believe that no one else is writing like me.
That being said, all I’ve ever tried to do is write what I want to read and what excites me. One thing that really annoys me about the dark fantasy/paranormal book I’ve read is that the female protagonists have all this attitude but go weak at the knees at the first sight of the always-attractive villain. It makes me sick. Now, that’s not to say that my girls won’t be attracted to someone they’re not supposed to, but they will do it with dignity, independence and strength (or at least, I try).

Why do I write what I do?

I’ve always been a writer, since I could talk I’ve told stories. But I didn’t start writing paranormal stuff until I hit my teens and went through the obligatory vampire phase. In my late teens I started to get bored of vampires and true writer’s block set in. I used to sit and stare at blank documents. I remember starting a few stories with a fantasy twist but they never came to anything. Not until Lord of the Rings, Fellowship of the Ring came out at the cinema. That scene where Gandalf lights up Moria changed my world. All of a sudden I was both a Tolkien dwarf and a fantasy writer.

I think I love fantasy because the rules can be twisted and because it isn’t every day stuff. The idea of writing a short story about normal people bores me. It’s everyday life and I already live it. To me, fiction should have some form of escapism.

Then again, I think fiction should also tackle worldly issues. I played around with science fiction, stopped writing it after my first year at University for reasons which are explained here, and have only just rediscovered it. I love the social aspects of science fiction, looking at class and gender especially (I did a module on gender as part of my archaeology degree) probably because these, along with animals, history and the environment are the topics close to my heart.

I try and write horror sometimes, but it scares (and fascinates) me.

How does your writing process work?

Basically, I fall in love with an idea, flesh it out, get to know the characters, write a first draft, realise by the end that the beginning is all wrong and end up rewriting the damn thing. But I’m working on that!

The process I’m working towards is having an idea, mulling it over, making notes and then writing an outline. I always made a rough list of what I wanted to happen in a novel but the first draft I’m writing now is the first time I’ve used a proper outline and it’s working wonders.

I try to write at least 500 words a day, although some days I give myself a target of 1,000. I’ve discovered I can only work on two projects at a time, so I’m currently editing two projects and the first draft is on hold for a week or two. I’ve always been a night owl but have recently trained myself to write just as well in the morning or afternoon.

The first draft then sits alone for a month or two before it’s reread and reworked at least three times. In theory, it’s then formatted and submitted out…I’ll let you know how that goes!

For short stories, it’s pretty much the same only shorter. A first draft of a novel can (should) take me six months. A short story takes me roughly three days. Two days to write (based on a 5,000 word story) and one day to edit and proof.

Like Karen, I am a serial procrastinator but I find that getting into a habit and writing every single day stops my mind wandering and makes it so much easier.

Next on the blog tour is J Wilby-Palmer from Manchester (where half of my genes also hail from) who is a marathon runner, a writer a fantasy and science fiction, and very academical (two degrees!). Also wishing her a speedy recovery so she can get back to her running.
I hope you’ll check out her blog at and her writing process post next week (although check out her blog any day!).


4 responses to “My Writing Process

  1. Great post! I love your words on the feisty heroine who then goes gooey when a cute villain comes along. Why not kick his a**e and then s**g him?! (Sorry, feeling a bit feisty myself today!)
    I’m intrigued to hear about your new mystery project. And I’m also tackling non-fiction writing in my course just now. Good luck with all your work! 🙂

    • Thanks Karen 🙂
      Nothing makes me want to throw a book across the room more than a girl going gooey over the bad guy. I get it, bad boys are attractive (I always fall for the bad guy) but, as you say, beat him then have him!
      Good luck with your non-fiction stuff too! Mine’s going very slow just because it’s an industry I haven’t really been a part of yet. Maybe I need to go on a course too! 🙂

  2. Hi Jen, I liked your take too on the role of the female characters and fully agree with Karen – it’s kind of sooooo American the way women are portrayed as all gung ho, then vulnerable at the same time. Bleurgh. Although, I can’t deny I don’t have one of those in my book, but she starts out vulnerable THEN becomes all gung ho! ‘gung ho’ – where did I get that phrase from? :-/

    What non-fiction are you looking to write?

    • Thanks! 😀
      See, that works! The female protagonist starting off vulnerable and then becoming tough. That’s much more real.
      I love the term gung ho, sounds like a nervous cheer into battle…or a cheer into drunkenness. I prefer the latter, I think I’ll use that from now on! 🙂

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