Today, author Julie Stock takes the first draft hot seat.
She blogs about her path to publication on her website, ‘My Writing Life’ www.juliestock.wordpress.com. She is a proud member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writers’ Scheme and is an Associate Member of The Alliance of Independent Authors. You can also connect with her on Twitter and via her Facebook Author Page.
When she is not writing, she works part-time as a teacher. She is married with two teenage daughters and lives with her family in Bedfordshire.
When you decide to write something new, what is the first thing you do?
I try to write an outline of the story that’s in my mind first of all.
Do you have a set routine approaching it?
This is the briefest of sketches in the first instance. It will definitely include a beginning, middle and an end. If I can, I try to flesh it out into loose chapters from there.
Pen and paper or straight to the keyboard?
I usually work at my laptop. As I’m still new to writing though, I do explore with lots of different methods of outlining and I usually do this on paper until I can get my head round what it is I’m trying to do.
How important is research to you?
It is important if I’m writing about somewhere I’ve not been or something I don’t know much about. As an avid reader though, I don’t want long guidebook-style descriptions myself so I think research has to be carefully introduced in small doses to your novel. This is easier said than done though, as I’m finding out!
How do you go about researching?
Again, it depends on what I’m writing about. A lot can be done on the internet but you have to verify your facts several times over. It’s great if you’re writing about somewhere you do know of course. For example, From Here to Nashville begins in Dorset and I was able to use a lot of my own experience of visiting the area to give this the real-life feel I wanted it to have.
How do you store everything; ideas, research, images that catch your eye?
I write in Scrivener which allows you to keep all your research within the programme. Having said that, I don’t tend to do that as yet. I use Evernote for clipping interesting articles which I can refer back to ant any time. I also use Pinterest for visual prompts and I have a board on there for both of my books, as well as a number of other boards of lovely images! It’s hard not to get drawn into it.
Tell us how that first draft takes shape?
Both of my books were written continuously until I got to the end, with no editing. With my first book, I had no plan at all, I just kept writing until it was finished. The downside of this was that I then had to do what felt like a hundred rewrites to get it to the point when I could send it to an editor. With my second book, I wanted to try and write 50,000 words in a month for NaNoWriMo but I tried to write at least a vague outline before I got started. I managed the words but when I looked at the outline again some months later, the story I had written was nothing like it! I have now gone back and written a more detailed outline and I’m working on the first rewrite as we speak.
Are there any rituals you have to do or items you must have with you while writing that draft?
I don’t have items that I must have with me. I do like to have peace and quiet though so the two days I have at home a week (I work part-time on the other three) are really precious to me. When everyone else is around, it’s harder but I tend to use distraction free sites or apps like Noisli and Freedom to help me concentrate then. Actually, I use them in the day when I’m on my own as well because the distractions are sometimes too great and too many!
Does the outside world exist or are you lost to us for a period of time as the magic works?
Once I get going, I am very focused and I hate having to be pulled away for anything. Writing the first draft is my favourite time because nothing else matters except telling your story and that’s a very exciting time.
What does your workspace look like?
I am very tidy so my desk is quite organised. I do sometimes have piles of stuff on it as I’m working but I know exactly what’s in each pile!
Edit as you go or just keep getting words out?
No, I’m a firm believer, at this stage of my writing career, of getting the words out and then editing afterwards. I can see the benefits of both though and I may change my mind about that as I become more experienced. It would be great not to have to do so many rewrites one day.
I see many writers counting words in a day. Word counter or other method of keeping track of progression?
When I took part in NaNoWriMo, the word count was important but otherwise, I’m not too worried. I can set my own deadlines as a self-publisher and I’m quite disciplined so as long as I write or do something connected with my writing, every day, I’m happy.
So, that first draft is down. Roughly how long did it take? And what shape is it in?
From Here to Nashville, my debut novel, took me seven months to finish. It was in quite good shape by the end. The second one didn’t take so long but was a mess! I think there is a moral in that. I’m constantly re-evaluating my processes though to find what works best for me.
I like to do my first read-through on paper. This usually makes errors very noticeable. As I get closer to the finished version though, I read it on my Kindle to see what it looks like from a reader’s point of view.
What happens now that first draft is done?
Rewrites, rewrites, rewrites.
Thanks for digging into the depths of the first draft. It’s been a pleasure having you.
From Here to Nashville
Can Music Really Bring People Together?
Rachel Hardy dreams of being a successful country music singer in Nashville’s Music City, four thousand miles away from her lonely life in Dorset.
When Jackson Phillips, an independent record label owner, encourages her band to audition for a nationwide ‘Open Mic’ competition, she decides they have nothing to lose.
But when she starts to fall in love with Jackson, the stakes suddenly get higher and she finds herself with a great big dilemma on her hands. Should she abandon her dream and take the easy way out or should she leave the life she has always known behind and take a gamble on a man who has personal demons of his own?
Follow Rachel and Jackson as they learn to trust in love again and to see whether music really can bring them together.
You can find all previous First Draft authors HERE.