A list and a checklist

A fellow blogger and I have been considering the different sorts of blogs you can write, the different subjects you might want to write about, and the different challenges with each…  We found an article which gave a list of seventy-three – 73! – different ideas. We have decided to tackle them all; my friend is doing them at random, I am working my way through and today have come to checklists.

What is the difference between a list and a checklist… well, I guess they do overlap but apparently a list is just… well a list, usually of things (although it can also be a ‘to-do-list’) whereas a checklist is a list of things to do, possibly in a certain order, which can be ticked off as they are done (which can also be a to-do-list)

http://optinmonster.com/73-type-of-blog-posts-that-are-proven-to-work/

The idea is that you apply each of the blog suggestions to your own ‘industry or blog‘; so how would I apply the checklist principle to my writing…

I guess I would have to think of one particular aspect of my writing, so I am going to think about editing a completed piece, and in my case this would be a novel.

You have finished your novel – editing checklist:

  1. put your novel in a drawer (real or metaphorical) for at least a week
  2. if possible don’t do any other writing, if this is not possible make sure it is something which has absolutely no connection with THE NOVEL i.e. a sequel
  3. read it through, preferably in a different form from the way you saw it when you were writing it, e.g. on a Kindle, or as a hard copy; try not to interrupt your reading of it by making corrections – read it as a reader would
  4. when you have finished spend some time thinking about it, maybe make a few jottings of thoughts which occurred to you as you were reading, maybe under headings such as descriptions? locations? relationships? timings?
  5. run a spell-check
  6. spell-check again for consistency in names Sara/Sarah, Gabrielle/Gabriela
  7. weed out repeated words, ‘just’, ‘almost’, ‘even’ – and unusual words which you used once, loved, used again, then repeated – pellucid, lambent, adscititious, for example
  8. cut out all unnecessary words – less is so much, much more! Reducing your novel by a third can do wonders!
  9. start to read it through, correcting as you go – this maybe just small things or it maybe inconsistencies which need to be put right
  10. you may want to do a major re-write – it is sometimes advisable to continue reading through the whole thing to make sure you know exactly what you want to rewrite and what implications it would have on other parts of the novel
  11. work on your novel – it maybe the things you noted when you were reading it on your Kindle, it maybe the inconsistencies you want to tidy up, or it may be the rewrite
  12. If you have rewritten most or a lot of the novel, go back to number 1 on this checklist and start again
  13. think of aspects of your novel in chunks together – think about everything you have written about each character and their profile, each setting, each description
  14. optional – copy and paste into another document the story line for each character so you can read their part of the story sequentially
  15. read your novel again, changing and adjusting as you go
  16. read it again out loud to yourself
  17. read it backwards – not literally word for word, but chapter by chapter – this can throw up a lot of errors in sequencing and chronology
  18. if you have anyone who can read it for you this is a big help – if they are critical in a kindly but firm way. If you agree with their comments great, if you don’t you will have to defend your point of view and that argument will enable you to see whether their criticism might actually have been justified!
  19. run through the story-lines in your head from the different characters’ different points of view
  20. read it one last time…

Here is a link to my book, each of which has been through all of the above!!! The checklist on each has been well and truly checked!!:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_4_6?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=lois+elsden&sprefix=lois+e%2Caps%2C152&crid=2ALEAZC1KF18A

The lost brother

Looking back to when I first began my Radwinter stories I had forgotten how much I changed my plans and thoughts… This is what I wrote in 2012:

For quite a while I’ve had a character lurking in my busy writing brain .. now he has been joined by two brothers. I can see them so clearly the three of them, but as yet they have no story, and apart from being related to each other, they have no other connections like wives or parents.

They have no names but one of them, not necessarily the oldest, maybe the middle one, is about forty-five but as yet he doesn’t have a job or profession… although maybe he is a wine merchant… He is quite burly but not fat, quite tall but not a giant, he is always smartly – impeccably dressed but in a casual style… so designer jeans, expensive shirts definitely not off the peg, and shoes from a shoe shop not an outlet. Maybe he shops at Ede and Ravenscroft. He is quite controlled but seems amiable, has a twinkle in his eye and a dimple in his cheek, but people who meet him should beware, he is as hard as nails and quick in a fight. He is prematurely grey, has very blue eyes and is head-turningly handsome.

 

His brother who might actually be a few years older, around fifty, is very obviously his brother although smaller, and less grey and with friendly greenish eyes. He really is totally laid back, so laid back he is almost horizontal; but like his brother he has a core of steel and his enemies would be unwise to underestimate him. He is never short of girlfriends or lovers, but is secretly looking for ‘the one‘ to live with and love for the rest of his life. He’s not bothered about clothes, in fact he sometimes looks eccentrically scruffy. Maybe he’s a teacher, maybe he’s a writer, maybe he makes music… maybe he does all three.

The youngest brother is in his late thirties or about forty. He looks like his silver-haired brother did ten years previously but he is smaller, wiry and busy. His skin is always tanned even in winter, and he has the same cheek-dimpling grin, the same crinkling eyes which are definitely green. He wears jeans or dark trousers  t-shirts and jackets, as if he cares how he looks but can’t afford to dress as his silver-haired brother. He has a wild side to him though, and when he goes out with his oldest brother they can get into mischief even though they are way old enough to know better!

Well that certainly changed! The second brother vanished altogether! Well, he vanished but some aspects of him morphed into the youngest that I wrote about here.  Some time later I wrote about the brothers again:

… and now I not only have some possible names for them, but also a couple of other family members… probably cousins. My stories seem to be full of cousins, maybe because I love my own cousins so much. In fact it was while I was out and about in Essex with one of them that I saw a sign to the village of Radwinter and thought what a splendid name it would make. It then occurred to me that maybe Redwinter would be better… what do you think?

It was suggested by my cousin’s middle son that names beginning with J would go well with such a surname… I tried not to have my children with names beginning with the same name but it suddenly seemed that this family might well do that. So give me your thoughts:

  • oldest brother, wine merchant, prematurely silver-grey, blue eyes, sturdy but deceptively hard… Justin, Jerry (short for Jericho, his mother’s maiden name) or Jack
  • middle brother, greyish, very blue eyes, totally laid-back, slightly scruffy/hippy type… Jules (short for Julian, his father’s name) , Joe or Jimmy
  • youngest brother, teacher or wine-bar owner, brown hair, beard, tanned , green eyes… James, Johnny or Jasper

Cold… does Radwinter sound too cold, would Redwinter be better?

Somehow they have also acquired two cousins… the elder, who is probably the oldest in the family, has longish curly greying hair, piercing blue eyes and an unblinking deadly stare, he is severe and strict, but essentially kind, generous and protective of his younger brother. He is probably a priest or someone who is committed and driven, and has had to take on responsibility from an early age, losing him his young adulthood, and probably friends and girlfriends too.

His younger brother is the baby of the family, chubby, and sweet-faced, he has floppy brown hair in a long fringe, and a reddish short beard; he is always eating, or looking for something to eat. He may appear innocent, but he is probably the most intelligent of them all, and his Bambi eyes belie a shrewd and decisive nature. He is not to be underestimated, although he usually is, even by his family.

As for names for these two… I haven’t a clue!

I didn’t use any of the names i thought about – except Johnny did change to John for that character and there is a cousin Max. The cousin who seemed to be a priest, became a vicar and also joined the family as the eldest. Radwinter didn’t change to Redwinter, and the new youngest brother did not have the grazing habit I originally thought he might have! The oldest one is a wine merchant,…

Another post, and things have changed again…

…suddenly there was Peter Radwinter knocking on the door of his brother, Paul who had asked him over to meet his new fiancée, Ruthie.

I had been thinking about a family of brothers, I’d pondered over names and yet suddenly here they were on the page, with a fiancée and an as yet unseen wife, Rachel, and a cousin called Max. Paul it appears, has four sons, the youngest of which is twelve-year old Will. I have a feeling first names may change, they don’t quite fit what I have in mind…

On looking back at my previous post about the Radwinter family I find that then I had in mind two sets of cousins, Jerry, Jules and Johnny and two others. Somehow they have morphed into one family, and lost a brother in the transition…

Peter Radwinter! I had totally forgotten that my main character was Peter! Rachel became Rebecca but Ruthie remained Ruthie.

And finally…

Something which has happened while I have been writing this,  the narrator of the story has changed name; he was Peter, now he’s Thomas. Thomas has gone to visit a woman (the reason is concealed at the moment) He has arranged to visit her but when he arrives at her beautiful house, no-on answers the door so he wanders round to the back garden, and there she is on a lounger, sun-bathing. Suddenly a man appears and accuses Thomas of being a Peeping Tom and chases him off the property after hitting him in the face. Thomas drives quickly away, a mixture of outrage, embarrassment and humiliation churning within. But who was the woman? And who was the man who attacked Thomas?

So at last Thomas is Thomas… the incident with the sun-bathing woman was excised from ‘Radwinter’, but appeared much, much later, in the fourth novel in the series, ‘Beyond Hope’.

I am writing novel number six, provisionally entitled Saltpans, but already I have ideas for number seven – if that should ever happen!! One of these ideas might have been lurking in my subconscious for a very long time, because as I reread these original posts, there was one thing I wrote many years ago – Somehow they have morphed into one family, and lost a brother in the transition… wait a minute… a lost brother! Hey! How about that…. a lost brother… my mind is bubbling… 

Yes, you read it here first, a lost brother… and maybe he will be called Peter!

Here’s a link to my Radwinter books:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/RADWINTER-5-Book-Series/dp/B072HTG366/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1507040972&sr=8-7&keywords=lois+elsden

 

A How-to Guide…

You may know that I also write for another blog; a small collective of three writers, me, the very talented Richard Kefford, and poet John Watts share a blog called ‘The Moving Dragon Writes’. As well as posting our own work and thoughts, we open up the blog to anyone else who would like to post there and we have many fine writers who have been kind enough to share their work.

Some time ago, Richard found a most interesting article about different types of blogs and blogging in general; it listed seventy-three suggested subjects for blogging and  he has begun to tackle the challenge of trying to write on each of these seventy-three… well, good luck to him! … Good luck, and yesterday, feeling that maybe I too should take up that challenge – not in competition, but just to see if I can do it. I started

First of all I had to decide,  should I start with No. 1 on the list and work my way through? Should I choose the easiest and train myself up to the most challenging? Choose a topic I’m familiar with and already often write about or select one at random? In the end starting with the first suggestion seemed the equivalent to starting at random as they were in no particular order!

So, here is the first on the list, and what I wrote yesterday:

  1. Tutorials and How-to Guides

How to edit what you have written (according to Brimdraca, aka Lois Elsden):

Recently I have been thinking about the process of editing stories – in my case it is novels; I am not at the stage of having to think about editing with my current novel, provisionally called Saltpans, but having recently read an interesting article about editing, it has been on my mind. I write fiction, and I write novels, but I think there are aspects of my self-editing processes which apply to any piece of writing. certainly when I do write a shorter piece, or a factual piece or an article about something, the same principles of checking, correcting, improving apply

You have finished your story…

  • congratulate yourself and feel very proud of your achievement – don’t have negative, apologetic or pessimistic thoughts about it. You set yourself a challenge and you have completed it so that is a success!
  • flex your editing muscles because you are going to make your work better than it is in its raw state – don’t think ‘I’ve finished writing, that’s it’ – you want to make it the best it can be, the same as with anything
  • take time away from your work; it might be only a cup of coffee or tea’s worth of time, it might be a day, a week, a month – Stephen King recommends six weeks – but you need to disengage yourself so you can be objective
  • spell-check – run your spellchecker/proof-reader/spelling and grammar checker before you do anything else to get rid of those silly errors and typos, spelling mistakes, careless grammatical inconsistencies, repeated or omitted words, etc
  • first read through – your time away from your work should help you see it with fresh eyes and things should jump out at you straight away which need attention

With the next suggestions there is no particular order, I might work my way through them in a different way from you, I might omit some or add in a few idiosyncratic personal ones of my own – and so might you!

  • write out the plot and subplots – this helps with continuity and sequencing,, it also helps you rearrange episodes if you need to. If you are a person who meticulously plans your work before you even start then you will probably have done this already – ditto a lot of the other suggestions below!!
  • write character profiles and descriptions – you may even write family trees, family histories, back-stories which never appear in your piece (you can always use them later for something else!) Doing this ensures consistencies, that your character’s eyes don’t change colour for example or her ex-husband’s name doesn’t change
  • scenery and setting – if your story is in a real place then you might need to check out the location again, you might also want to enhance your story with more details and descriptions. If your setting is fictional make sure your reader can ‘see’ it. You may need to write a little private ‘history’ of the place with notes.
  • read your whole story/article out loud – when I say ‘out loud’ I mean ‘out loud’; I don’t mean mumbling or whispering it to yourself, I mean reading it as if to someone else – if you have someone else to read it to, even better – and if that someone else will read it out loud to you, then even better still! This will throw up things you want to change large and small and will highlight those errors which escaped your spell-check/proof reading from above. This will also highlight boring bits, parts which are too abrupt or not properly explained, repetitive parts, and worst of all – those precious, beautifully crafted, lovingly polished episodes which are actually ludicrous or embarrassing or make the reader burst out laughing (or if it’s supposed to be funny sit there with a pained expression because it’s so dire) On the positive side – reading it out loud will really highlight the great bits, the lyrical bits, the hilarious pits, the tear-jerking bits – you will be impressed by yourself in a way you can’t be reading it in your head!
  • winnow, slash, cut, delete, reduce – like all of us, carrying a little extra weight (or in some cases a lot of extra weight) isn’t good. As with extra calories, it can be the little things which make a story flabby and unfocused. I think all of us have words which we use more than we should – ‘just’, ‘about’, ‘very’, ‘almost’ etc… each of us might have a favourite word which we trot out – it can be something unusual like ‘pellucid’ or ‘lambent’ which will seem poetic and original the first time, but annoying, distracting and laughable after seven or eight or more times. I found myself using ‘virtually’ too many times, then it was ‘actually’ and ‘actual’, and then utterly…
    it isn’t just single words – it can be whole chunks which are just plain boring; it can be a detailed description of a simple act ‘he stretched out his cold hand, his long, brown fingers tentatively touched, then more confidently slid over and firmly grasped the smooth, shiny  brass door handle…’ Once might be effective, but if the whole thing is padded out with this minutiae it is just plain boring.
    back stories are important but the reader doesn’t want to be wading through a whole lot of stuff which actually has no bearing on the main story – for the most part, saying someone was married before is enough, we don’t need to know what they wore on their wedding day, had to eat at the reception, went on their honeymoon etc!
  • repeats – as above; telling us a character has piercing blue yes is fine, repeating it next time we meet her might help us remember her eyes, but we don’t need to be told every-time she comes into the story – unless of course there is a very specific reason
  • reread the whole thing – yes again – if possible, read it in a different medium, on paper on an e-reader, in bed on a laptop or tablet… this will help you be objective and stand back from your creation.
  • find a reader – if you have a friend whose judgement you respect, ask them to read it (you can bribe them with beer, wine, chocolate, a trip to the theatre) and ask them for their honest opinion. They may be complimentary, but if they are a true friend they will also point out things which don’t work, don’t make sense, seem silly or boring or soppy. You will have to think about what they say because after all, you have already decided you respect their judgement; however you don’t have to agree with it! Your augments for whatever it will make you more sure of yourself… but you might actually think there is some point to what they are saying, and you might find their advice helpful! I’m not suggesting you compromise, but in justifying what you have done you might want to tweak something!
  • read it backwards – this advice is mainly for longer stories or novels; obviously I don’t literally mean you read it backwards, but read the last chapter, then the penultimate, then antepenultimate and so on. This is a brilliant way to check plot lines are consistent, make sense and nothing is missed out
  • … and finally… begin to think about what should happen next to your story; is it for your writing group, a competition, something for a friend or family member, submit to an agent/publisher, self-publish – possibly on Lulu or Amazon KDP or in paperback form… these days there are so many possibilities!

© Lois Elsden 2017

Here is a link to my books:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_3_10?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=lois+elsden&sprefix=lois+elsde%2Caps%2C143&crid=2LH42U38J5NV0

… and Richard’s:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_4_10?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=richard+kefford&sprefix=richard+ke%2Cdigital-text%2C136&crid=1B15ZAN73TWEG&rh=n%3A341677031%2Ck%3Arichard+kefford

… and the 73 blog list:

http://optinmonster.com/73-type-of-blog-posts-that-are-proven-to-work/

…and to our Dragon blog:

https://somersetwriters.wordpress.com

 

You’ve finished your amazing first draft… and…

Here is an article I wrote for my other blog about editing what you have written:

There is a wonderful amount of advice out there for writers these days, no more scribbling away in a lonely garret – now, with a click of the mouse you have thew whole world in your room. Lulu is a publishing on demand site which allows people to self-publish their work if they have been unsuccessful in attracting or finding an agent or publishing house to support them. Even if you don’t take advantage of their services, Lulu has an amazing selection of articles offering advice on all aspects of writing.

I came across one, ‘5 Tips for Editing Your Manuscript’, and I will give you the link below, because it offers some really sound, basic advice, which is not daunting or off-putting but do-able. There is a suggestion of an exercise to be undertaken first, which is valuable:

  1. write down the plot(s)
  2. identify the purpose of each scene

Having done that, take a gallop through the 5 tips, (which add up to seven, if you include ‘pre-editing‘ and ‘final thoughts‘ ) :

  1. trim the fat
  2. read aloud
  3. spelling & grammar
  4. think like an editor
  5. befriend your characters

They seem so obvious, don’t they when you look at them like that and over the next few weeks, we will discuss each of these with maybe some personal examples… Of course, when I said ‘take a gallop through the 5 tips’ I didn’t literally mean that!!

Here is the link:

http://www.lulu.com/blog/2017/09/5-tips-for-editing-your-manuscript/?utm_source=bronto&utm_medium=email&utm_term=Read+More&utm_content=5+tips+for+editing+your+manuscript+%3F%3F&utm_campaign=09052017_US_en_LULU20#sthash.ly3T57uk.dpbs

…and if you would like to have a look at my other blog which I write with two others, it is The Moving Dragon Writes and can be found here:

https://somersetwriters.wordpress.com/2017/09/08/5-tips-from-lulu-might-make-you-wanna-shout/

…and here is a link to my books

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=lois+elsden

 

..and  here is Lulu:

Respect your readers

I’m always very ready to accept ideas or to listen to good suggestions – for most things, but writing in particular! I write on my own (although I belong to a very helpful and friendly writing group, we share specifically written pieces rather than discuss on going projects!) and I self-publish so I don’t have an editor (but I do have a proof reader, plus kind friends who give honest criticism) … so any advice or suggestions I can find elsewhere I give serious consideration to!

I came across this headline:

5 Essential Pieces of Advice You Need Before You Publish

I immediately read it through, and although some of the advice was more relevant to me than other bits, it was all sound. The ‘5 Essential Pieces of Advice’ are:

  • Editing is VERY important
  •  Marketing can’t be avoided!
  • Reach out to other authors for advice
  • Research publishing – what’s a good fit for you?
  • Respect your readers, and the craft itself

This is the order in which they appear, but if I was to put them in order of importance to me – just my thoughts, you understand, they would be like this:

  1. Respect your readers, and the craft itself 
  2. Editing is VERY important
  3. Reach out to other authors for advice
  4. Research publishing – what’s a good fit for you?
  5.  Marketing can’t be avoided!

I was thinking about the first point – writing is about the audience as well as the writer! it took me a long time to understand the importance of ‘audience’ a very long time.

Here is something I wrote while ago but I think it is still very true:

I made a commented recently about the importance of not falling in love with my characters… and I had some great comments which I really appreciated, but it made me realise I need to make it clearer what I mean. I sometimes think that writers, particularly of a series of novels, that they become so close to their characters that they are no longer objective about them and become almost indulgent. I don’t wish to criticise P.D. James  heaven forbid! She actually is an old girl of the school I attended in Cambridge and a wonderful writer, a great writer. I, along with other people  will never forget the way she took apart the Director General of the BBC, Mark Thompson, when she interviewed him in 2009… however… however… I think she is too indulgent with her detective, Adam Dalgliesh. I haven’t read her latest Dalgliesh mysteries so I may need to retract this statement!
Someone commented that a fiction writer is the creators and so makes the rules… I suppose that is true to a certain extent, especially for great writers… However, but I’m just an ordinary writer, a story-teller, and I want people to read my work so like it or not, to a certain extent I have to conform to a certain structure and convention. It’s the same as if I were a performer, I would want people to watch me, so maybe I would have to compromise in order to get that audience. As a writer, especially an unknown writer seeking an audience I might sometimes have to adjust what I write to catch people’s interest, and then sustain it… and yet I must continue to be  my own person and true to what I want to do.
I do love my characters, I really do, in fact there is one who I am almost ‘in love’ with! If you have read my three published novels you might like to guess who that is! I guess what I mean by not falling in love with them is that I should also try and see them objectively so they behave within the context of the plot in a consistent and believable way. maybe I should have used the word indulgent, perhaps I believe I shouldn’t be too indulgent with them.
My characters are important to me, really important, they live with me after all! They continue on with their lives long after the story has ended… just because there is nothing more for my readers doesn’t mean the characters don’t continue their lives and adventures!
As a reader I love it when characters stay with me…  and so they do when I write; I just don’t want to become too close to them!

In this piece I mention I’ve published three novels – well, I have now published twelve as e-readers, and one is available as a paperback. I would really appreciate your comments, and criticism, so here is a link:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_1_8?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=lois+elsden&sprefix=lois+els%2Caps%2C140&crid=3A6GAQYMCT6PP

Here is a link to the article ‘5 Essential Pieces of Advice You Need Before You Publish’ – I really recommend you read it!:

http://services4authors.com/2017/05/23/5-essential-pieces-of-advice-you-need-to-hear-before-you-publish/

From Brighton to Great Yarmouth

A couple of days ago I confided here that I had got myself in a bit of a pickle with the book I am writing at the moment. I suddenly realised there was a great flaw in the family history of one of the characters; I’d made a bit of a blunder and written a whole series of episodes based on a premise which was wrong in various ways… it doesn’t matter what the ways were, the point I was pondering was what I should do.

I do a lot of thinking about my writing when I’m doing other things, driving somewhere, waiting for something or someone, in the hour or so before I fall asleep and a similar amount of time as I wake up the next morning. So, I stared at the screen a lot, reread the thread which would have to be rewritten, played about with various history sites and a few genealogical ones too… then this morning I got it!

I must admit I thought it would be a massive rewrite and lots of checking, but in fact, I’ve managed to rescue quite a lot… The scene changed from Brighton to Great Yarmouth and a couple of places in Norfolk; a convalescent home which became an asylum, and then a home for soldiers wounded in WWI, then a school, then another convalescent home for WWII soldiers and then a complex of fancy apartments (yes a complex thread!), became a tuberculosis sanatorium which was then bombed in WWI (yes, Norfolk and other east coast places were bombed in the first world war); details of the patients, the doctors and nurses, the neighbours who lived near the sanatorium also had new identities… and I think these changes have made the story better, more interesting, and with a greater scope for intriguing story lines and plot twists.

Much greater writers than me have had disasters, losing manuscripts, servants burning them, leaving them on trains etc… nothing a dramatic or disastrous for me, but I have realised that sometimes out of things going wrong, things going very much better can happen! … actually that’s a bit like life really!

Here’s a link to my novels… I’ve had to do a few rewrites on them too, I can tell you!!

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=lois+elsden

 

In need of a rethink

There’s an awful lot of thinking that has to happen before I can get writing… Sometimes it is a sort of subliminal thinking, a sort of mental playing about with a few scraps of ideas, the sort of things I mention when I’m writing here – a ragbag of odd names, unexpected facial expressions, ‘what if’ moments, fleeting glimpses of things, overheard scraps of conversation, vague and tenuous drifts of leftover dream on waking, misunderstood or misheard comments, graffiti, juxtaposed images, memories, odd news items, strange weather, rivers and seas and rivers meeting seas…

Then, for me, there’s a gradual coming together and the beginning of some form, and then I start – and usually when I start (which may not necessarily be at the beginning of the story) words come out in a stupendous rush, and ideas coalesce and form and reform, and strange branches of thought go off in all sort of directions. Sometimes I’m taken up with an idea – sometimes it needs a lot of research and I plunge into that in a fury, and write and write.

Then comes the more staid workmanlike work (is that tautology?) All the other things continue – the mental playing about, the coalescing, the sudden spurts of enthusiasm and inspiration, but it’s more formed now, following the pattern of the narrative.

And then… and then sometimes comes a realisation that there has been an error – maybe it’s something simple like a character’s name or description isn’t right, or that two characters have become confused, or there is a gap where a crucial explanation is missing, or something is written so badly it just has to come out and be rewritten, or there is a whole thread which doesn’t fit at all and needs to be extracted and maybe saved for another story. These things are a bit annoying, but only a bit… lots of work, but it’s all OK.

And then… and then and then there is the major blunder. I am about thirty thousand words into a new story so it’s not a disaster – at least I haven’t finished the first draft and suddenly seen the major blunder!  I have several story lines, a family history, a stalker, the looking for/finding/buying a new house, a jealous ex-husband, not a missing but a found person – a found person who is also amnesiac, and then there are all the general plotlines around characters – their lives and loves etc.

As I was doing some extra research for my imagined family history, it suddenly came to me that I had made a fundamental error of judgement and would need to rethink the whole story of this family’s genealogy. Not a disaster, of course, I can do that… but it’s just irritating that I spent so much time working it out and researching it in the first place, and now not only do I need to unpick it, but also create a new history for them!

Here’s a link to my books which did make it through to being published – they all had a lot of rewriting in them, I hope you can’t see the joins! My novels are all e-readers, except ‘Radwinter’ which is also published as a paperback:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=lois+elsden