I jotted down some notes when Kate Morton, Patrick Dewitt, Iain Reid, Craig Davidson and Nathan Ripley talked about their books and their writing.
They, of course, don't use the same approach to writing and these notes reflect that.
These are some of the points the authors made about structure and planning:
- I use layering of time and tether the "then" to the "now".
- I use structure - not random.
- I like to have a sense as to where the book is going.
- I don't plot and plan but the ending is so crucial. I believe that you have to know where you're going. I wrote the last line early on and worked towards that last sentence.
- I have an idea or image but no outline - seems bizarre to outline a story you don't know.
- I have disparate ideas which then grow together.
These are some points related to description and setting:
- I take photographs, use visual images to provide references for description.
- I research the area where the book is set.
- I like to reference specific detail rather than a lot of general description.
Some comments on character:
- Need to do research so that characters as well as the historical period are authentic, including how people spoke.
- Ability to be in that particular character is important.
- Usually takes a while to get a fabricated character to be three-dimensional.
- Moving character - hard to walk away without some degree of empathy.
- Some of the characters won't have names at first - a name eventually emerges.
- There is a lot of dialogue - my novels feel personal.
- Complicated and surprising and also in line with my take on the world - subversion of what's expected.
- Grounded in realism but open to the hint that more is happening than we're aware of in our real world.
- Appreciation of poetry is helpful - for rhythm and making it pleasant to say (audio books are more and more popular).
- Memories - people can hold different perspectives - why do our memories change? We tend to want to make them more palatable - this is a rich and shifting terrain for writers.
- Used present tense to allow room for instinct - not too intellectual.
- My books don't fit a specific genre.
And a couple of my favourites:
- Write with genuine passion and love - put some of yourself into it.
- It's impossible to please everyone with a book!