Today it is my pleasure to welcome to my blog Daniel Culver to talk about his writing process. This is a book that I am really looking forward to reading.
About the Book
Elizabeth Nowicki, a British woman and self-confessed stoic, settles down in the seemingly idyllic American town of Midnight, with her new husband and his two children. Six months on, life as a step mom is harder than she thought, and the shine of the American Dream has already worn off.
Bored and lonely, Elizabeth is drawn into a nightmare when someone in a duck mask murders two local cops…and the investigation reaches her new neighbourhood. When this is followed by strange happenings across the street, leading to another death, Elizabeth starts to conduct her own investigation….but can she find the killer before the killer finds her?
My Writing Process
I figure people like these origin stories, nosey nods to one’s writing practice, so this is mine. Here goes.
I used to be a ‘pantser’. Actually, I was full ‘commando’. I started with an abstract idea and just ran with it, a bit like making Lego with no instructions. Lego without instructions usually looks like something you left in your pantsters; at least mine did. Something with no firm structure usually falls apart very easily, too. Unless you’re a genius. I’m not a genius, so I need stabilisers.
Now, I am an ardent planner. A Micro Manager, as Zadie Smith suggests. This works for me because my ideas are both abstract and erratic. I don’t write in sequence, so I can slot whatever I make up into a timeline. Actually, I would say I am re-planner. I usually begin with an idea and I need to let it ferment in my head for a long time. I will probably begin with one or two scenes to properly set the tone, and while I’m writing those, I will use a Beat Sheet (see Saves The Cat Beat Sheets, they’re great) to construct the plot, which I will then break across three separate documents – my three act structure.
This allows two things: to easily navigate my manuscript(s); while also allowing me to easily re-structure things as I go, according to my Beat Sheet.
I usually end up shuffling things quite a bit and while I’m going that, I will then write each character’s story, depending on how many POVs there are in the plot. Once I have the plot structured across the three acts, I will then dissect and insert the individual story arcs. I’m sure there is software out there that does this type of thing for you, but my system doesn’t cost anything and I’m set in my ways. This is my own organised chaos.
So, in short, while in the early writing stages I usually have: A beat sheet, which contains the plot points. A work in progress file, for ideas and snippets that are not yet finished or fully realised. My actual manuscript at this point is dived into the three acts, which I will lay my beat sheet to. Finally, I have the separate story arcs for the main character(s), which will be inserted into my three acts once I am happy with the plot. So, no less than six separate documents in all.
Basically, I see it as a play. I construct the necessary beats across the three acts. I then set the scene or furnish the set. My WIP is like a rehearsal, riffing on ideas until they are ready to be added to the script. Finally, once the characters/actors are ready to go in, I slot them in to place.
I’m not fun at parties!
You can purchase the book here