A Life of Fiction X

For those of you new to this WordPress site, this site is about me and my writing – and a little about my role-playing, as well. It gives readers a chance to sample my work before purchasing it on the Kindle store; and gives me the chance to say a little about the genesis of each novel, or about the process of writing in general.

Different Methods: Throughout the years during which I have attempted to be an author I have employed different methods of working. Some were simply for literary effects; other methods changed due to a change in the technology at my disposal.

I began writing a long time ago, on pads of bound A4 paper, the sort where you used to be able to buy 200 sheets for next to nothing. I wrote longhand, and sequentially, in the years before I had anything as advanced as a typewriter. I wrote the entirety of The Absinthe Club like that, and around two thirds of its sequel, The Assassination Codex. I did bits and pieces for other early attempts, as well, some of them projects which remain unfinished to this day (such as Amongst Us).

A friend of mine – hello Jon! – gave me a typewriter, after I had laboured for years with my trusty biro. This was my first new piece of technology. I now had technology available in the late Victorian era.

I used the typewriter to do the second draft of The Absinthe Club. It proceeded extremely slowly, as typing is a skill which I have never mastered. There was much swearing and use of Tippex. But, eventually, the second draft of that novel was complete.

There was no way that I could ever have submitted a handwritten manuscript to a publisher, anyway, as my handwriting is far too poor. It has been described as being like a spider that has fallen into a pot of ink and then crawled across the page.

Eventually I invested in a computer. Then, once I got a printer, I would be able to duplicate material whenever I wanted to. I could begin submitting my work to publishers.

At first being in possession of a computer did not change the way in which I wrote. For years I would still write in the way in which books are read: I would finish Chapter One before doing Chapter Two before Chapter Three.

Eventually, though, I began to experiment with a less sequential way of working. I realised that if there was a section of a chapter which needed more work on it then I could simply leave it, for a while, and return to it at some other time, while continuing to work on some later chapter.

That is usually the way in which I work at the moment, working on separate chapters and then assembling them when they are complete.

I find that different methods of working produce slightly different results.

If I want a kind of ‘pulp’ feel, like those old black and white 1940s adventure serials, then writing sequentially is the best way in which to achieve that result. But for murder mysteries… Well, you need to work out the revelation of who the murderer is, and then work back from there. You have to plan the ending from the start.

I don’t think that I would like to ever dictate my words to some amanuensis, or have voice recognition software. I think that the end result would be inferior, as I need to see the words which I write down. The later novels of Henry James were dictated, and they have been criticised as not being his best work. So I think that, for now, pottering away on a computer is the method which I will retain.

In other matters, I have added the short story Warriors of the Wasteland.

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