Today’s first draft guest is crime writer Jane Isaac.
Jane was runner up ‘Writer of the Year 2013’ with The Writers Bureau and her short stories have appeared in several crime fiction anthologies. The Truth Will Out is the long awaited sequel to her debut, An Unfamiliar Murder, which was nominated as best mystery in the ‘eFestival of Words Best of the Independent eBook awards’. The Truth Will Out will be released by Legend Press on 1st April 2014.
When you decide to write something new, what is the first thing you do?
I’m fascinated by how people react when they are taken out of the realms of normality. I love the idea of putting ordinary people in extraordinary situations and watching the story unfold as I write.
On this basis, I usually have an idea for an opening and pen a few lines which will eventually become an opening chapter.
Do you have a set routine approaching it?
After the initial lines, I draw up a broad outline and consider what themes and areas I want to cover, what characters will be involved and an idea of what research is required.
Pen and paper or straight to the keyboard?
A combination of both. I love the old fashioned method and have notebooks and scraps of paper all over the house with ideas and notes on them, but when it comes to drafting I’m much quicker at the keyboard.
How important is research to you?
For me, research underpins fiction and makes it authentic. I loathe reading a book and finding details that aren’t quite right. When authors do their homework the story comes alive and feels believable and real.
That said, I spend a huge chunk of potential writing time researching, although actually only a tiny trickle ever finds its way into the book
How do you go about researching?
My books are psychological crime thrillers/police procedural crossovers. Much time is devoted to checking investigative methods and police procedures.
I also invest a lot in my drawing up my characters. For An Unfamiliar Murder I interviewed police officers at many different levels to establish a believable DCI, and read a lot of true crime to give me the basis for my killer. For The Truth Will Out, sequel scheduled for release in April 2014, I even consulted a psychologist to ensure my antagonist was realistic.
How do you store everything; ideas, research, images that catch your eye?
Ha! I try to save whatever I can in various files on my PC. The rest is recorded in one of my many notebooks, or noted on a scrap of paper that disappears when I need it most! I keep telling myself I must learn about some of the software packages that help authors keep a track of their works. One day…
Tell us how that first draft takes shape?
I’m not a methodical person, so it’s taken me some time to find my way. With An Unfamiliar Murder I wrote, polished and edited each chapter as I worked. When the book was finished it was ready to submit.
With the second book, I relaxed a bit and indulged the fun and enjoyment in the art. Since edited words didn’t come quick enough, I ran my fingers over the keys voraciously to get the words out, and polished them later. I also now write in scenes and record whatever is in my head at the time which can mean jumping ahead to different parts of the novel and slotting them back in later. I’m about half way through my current WIP and have already drafted the denouement chapter.
Does the outside world exist or are you lost to us for a period of time as the magic works?
I’m a part time writer with a day job, family and a very naughty Labrador to boot, so I just catch my writing time whenever I can which often means drafting at my PC while my daughter is playing on the floor, or hubby is watching sports on the TV. When I do get the luxury of an empty house I occasionally have music on, or listen to Radio 4 in the background, although I’m not too sure how much I take in!
What does your work space look like?
I jot down ideas in bed, type on my daughter’s laptop beside the pool when she has swim class, and pen words on my PC which sits in the corner of my lounge. Variety is the spice of life when you squeeze your writing into tiny slivers of spare time, as and when they arise!
Edit as you go or just keep getting words out?
These days, I am more akin to getting those words and ideas down and editing later, although I do revisit text for each scene to ensure I’ve captured all the elements at that particular part of the story.
I see many writers counting words in a day. Word counter or other method of keeping track of progression?
Microsoft Word counts the words as I type them, and takes them away as I remove them, lol. I’m more interested in the shape of the story and how it unfolds to begin with. Word counts become more important when I reach the halfway point to ensure the structure of the novel works.
So, that first draft is down. Roughly how long did it take? And what shape is it in?
Both my first two books took around eighteen months each to write and by then they were almost finished.
In what format do you like to read it through, ereader, paper or the computer screen?
I like a mixture of each. I’ll read a little on my PC, sometimes print a few chapters out to check through details, then finish on my Kindle to see how it all fits together.
What happens now that first draft is done?
I’ll work through and polish it where necessary, then send it to beta readers for some feedback and to check I haven’t left any major threads hanging.
Thanks so much for inviting me on your blog, Rebecca! This is a great series and it’s been fun to participate
Thanks for digging into the depths of the first draft. It’s been a pleasure having you.
You can find all the first draft Q&A’s Here and if you fancy answering them yourself, just let me know.