Sunday 17 July 2016


As writers are regularly asked about their writing process, I’ve decided to use this blog to talk about the process of writing CLOSER BY MORNING.

To plan or not to plan? The eternal question for anyone writing a novel. Jackie Collins, one of my favourite authors, claimed that she never planned a single one of her books. That she made everything up as she went along. I have great admiration for authors who work that way, but it’s never been successful for me. I don’t think my memory is good enough. Heck, I can barely remember what I did last weekend, let alone a plot point I might have started writing six months ago. So planning is crucial when I start a book.  For Closer by Morning, I began with an outline of the full story. I’ve heard writers say that they feel stifled if they have to stick to a plan, but I would never set out on an unknown journey without consulting a route planner and I can’t start a book without a plan.  The finished book rarely turns out exactly how I intended but I have to know where I’m going for at least the first two thirds of the way.

Closer by Morning took about two weeks to outline, though the process began much earlier than that with character sketches, scenes ideas, research etc in my note book.  With all my notes assembled I typed up the synopsis and character profiles – everything I would need to refer back to over the coming months.

I often begin my first draft writing in long hand. There are several reasons for this. Mainly, it allows me to take my time and really get into the story and characters. I’ve always found writing with pen and paper to be more involving. Also my day job involves staring at a computer screen for 7.5 hours a day.  When I write in the evening and on my days off, I want to escape from all that. It has it’s draw backs, mainly in that it’s a lot slower. If I wrote entirely on a computer, I could probably finish a first draft in around three to four months. The first draft of Closer by Morning took six months. I didn’t write it all in longhand, but around two thirds. By that stage, all of the characters were established, I knew where the story was going.
First draft of Closer by Morning in long hand

Around this point I began to deviate from the plan. Not massively. The book still ends more or less where I intended it to, but I took a few detours along the way. One character, intended to be relatively minor, began to push forward and demand a bigger role in the finale. Who was I to refuse?

With my first draft complete and fully transcribed to the computer, it was time to take a break. Revision benefits from a little distance. I wrote a short story, Love in Portofino, which was recently published in Bold Strokes Books anthology Men in Love, before beginning my second draft. Let me say one thing first: I HATE second drafts. They’re hard. You realise how far from perfect your original version is. You have to slog through it, line by line, trying to make it better. (I once wrote an entire novel that went nowhere because I hated the second draft so much. It’s now in a box in the garage and unlikely to be seen again) Closer by Morning wasn’t the toughest second draft but it was no picnic either. I was determined to make it work and overhauled the whole manuscript in about four weeks.

The drafts pile up

After that I took another short break to concentrate on my submission package; drafting a cover letter and a clear synopsis. I also drew up a list of publishers I thought might be interested in the book. I’ve self-published before, but because this was a new genre for me, I wanted the backing and support of a traditional publisher. Self-publishing would always be there as a back up but I was determined to put the book through the submission process before resorting to that.

Then it was back to the third draft. This was really just a polish. The tough worked had been done in draft 2, so I was only looking to refine things in this pass and it took about two weeks. Following that, it was one final proof read before sending the book out for submission.

All in all, I started writing the first draft in January and competed the final draft in August. It was a very intense, focused time. I’m not one of those writers who likes to have two or three projects on the go at any one time. What I’m trying to say is that I start something and I finish it before moving on to something new. That’s my process.

And now it really is finished. Closer by Morning is already available exclusively for early release through Pride Publishing. I hope you enjoy it.

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