A Life Of Fiction CXIX

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.


My own way: Apparently, according to a writer whom I respect, the way in which I work is not a way which is recommended by writers’ groups.

Well, I have no desire to lead other potential writers into bad habits. I have no desire to corrupt the pure, like comics in the 1950s were supposed to corrupt the minds of children (leading to a report called Seduction of the Innocent; and then the Comics Code).

I write the way that I write because I find it is a way which suits me. It might not suit everybody else.

I get up in the morning – always before nine o’clock, even though I am not a morning person. I would be the first person to admit that I am a stay-a-bed.

I go and get a Diet Coke and two packets of crisps for my breakfast. I consume those delights as I begin writing my three thousand words for the day.


I think that it is the way in which I construct my novels which is frowned on in certain quarters. To be succinct: with most novels I write about five thousand words, which is usually the first few chapters. I then put the work aside for a couple of years. But I don’t ignore it. I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about the work, working out all of its details in my mind, until I know the full structure of the novel – how each chapter is going to go, and how the novel is going to end.

After some five years or so – I’m using an average here – I will return to my magnum opus and begin committing more words to paper (or, as is the case now, my computer). I will then write reasonably swiftly. As I have said before, I write some three thousand words per day, on average. But not all over those three thousand words are confined to a single project. Some will go on my main project. A few hundred will go on side projects. Up to a thousand might go on writing a blog post (such as this one).

When the words are flowing from my brain, through my fingers, and into my computer, I will do 1,500-2,000 words on my main work, and those words will be done very quickly.

I tend to edit as I go along. This, apparently, is another no-no. But the fact is that once I have completed a work I have no desire to return to it (at least for a couple of years). So, for me, it is necessary to edit as I go along.

In the past I have gone back to the draft of a novel to try to do another draft. But I was happy with what I had written, and the only things which I changed were a couple of typos. I try to get it right first time. When I have tried to do second and third drafts, in the past, I have had a sense that I was in danger of sucking the life out of the words which I had written.

This is the way in which I work. This is the way which I find works best for this particular bag of bones. But I would not necessarily inflict this modus operandi on anybody else. The way in which I work might not be suitable for somebody else.

Each writer needs to find a method of working which suits them. For example (if my brain-damaged memory serves me correctly) Ian Fleming, when he was working on his James Bond novels, used to take a morning dip in the swimming pool of his West Indian estate, before having a beefeater cocktail (a truly disgusting drink, involving vodka and beef consommé). He would then sit down to hammer out the prose.

That is not the way in which I work. But it worked for Ian Fleming. Each to his own, I say.

Anyway, enough of that, and enough of this post. Good luck with all of your future literary endeavours.


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