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  • Lynne Shelby

How I Do It - Laura Wilkinson - This Writing Life #8

Today, I'm delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Laura Wilkinson's wonderful novel Crossing the Line.

Over to Laura, with a guest post about her writing process ...

How I Do It

No, not *that*; how I write novels. I’ve heard it said everyone has a novel in them. I’m not convinced that’s true. Everyone has a story, for sure. But a novel? Umm. Novels are slippery beasts, difficult to tame, wrestle into shape (certainly for me), and controlled and carefully sculpted they must be if a reader is to enjoy the ride. That’s craft – and determination, tenacity and sheer bloody-mindedness.

So what’s my process? It’s changed since I first started, though there are key elements which remain constant. An idea rumbles. A theme, characters, locations emerge and take hold in my imagination. I read around the subject(s), buy a dedicated notebook and begin to fill it. Before I write anything on my pc, I have an idea of the story arc. Where it begins (though this is usually too early – I nearly always lose my first chapter or two) and where it might end. I choose a working title. Even if I know it’s rubbish; it often is. Leading characters get profile sheets. These will be altered and added to as the work progresses. I decide on a structure and point of view, though I remain open to change.

With The Family Line, my debut, I wrote 20,000 words in first person before realising that this was all wrong, and switched to close third. I knew Crossing the Line (14 March 2019) had to be first person immediately. It’s Mandy’s story and her voice which pulls the reader through.

For my first two novels, I was mostly a pantser, for the next two more of a planner – though Skin Deep had about three different plans at one point – the coloured coded image is the final one! Post-it notes are a planner’s best friend. Planning in more detail – even if it’s jotting down scene ideas and their purpose – saves me huge amounts of rewriting and keeps the narrative focus sharp. But every writer and every book is different. I approach each with that in mind.

Once this is done, the fun bit begins. I write. Fast and loose. No serious editing. I aim for 1,000 words day. Sometimes, I manage more, sometimes less. I’ve a family and another job as an editor. Periodically I write brief summaries of each chapter/scene. When I’m approximately one third of the way through, I read what I’ve got. I write the rest. I print out the MS and scribble all over it. Shuffle scenes around. Remove/add scenes. I rewrite. Repeat the last point as many times as needs be. When I am blind with editing and think it’s the best I can make it, I figure it’s done. It rarely is. That’s when a good editor steps in!

Thank you, Laura for such an interesting post.

Crossing the Line is published by Accent Press on 14 March 2019 (first published as Public Battles, Private Wars)

Which lines would you cross for love?

Yorkshire, 1983. Miner's wife Mandy Walker lives a quiet life. She's hopeless at everything apart from looking after her boys and baking. Life is fine. But she knows it could be better. Her husband's a drinker, and her best friend Ruth is busy with a teaching career. Mandy dreams of a different life - an impossible, unachievable life. Only Ruth's husband Dan believes in her but, after serving during the Falklands war, he has problems of his own.

When the men come out on strike, Mandy joins a support group. She finds friends and strength in surprising places. And secrets and enemies where she least expected them.Mandy must decide which side of the line to stand on.

'Encapsulates the feeling and sense of the early 80s with flair and poise' - JA Corrigan, Falling Suns

'Hugely enjoyable, fascinating and emotional... I absolutely loved it' - Bookaholic Holly

'A novel with a big heart' Pen and Paper'

'A story that looks at friendship, community, love, and jealousy' Random Things Through My Letterbox

If you would like to purchase Crossing the Line, please click on the link below or copy and past into your browser:

Meet Laura:

Laura Wilkinson is a feminist and lover of ginger hair. A resident of an unfashionable quarter of Brighton, she likes to write stories which entertain and provide food for thought. Her novels are Crossing the Line, The Family Line, Redemption Song and Skin Deep. Her work has been described variously as ‘compelling’, ‘poignant’, and ‘emotional’. Alongside writing, she works as an editor and mentor, and speaks at events nationwide. She has a passion for fashion and anything which glitters. In another life, she’d make a good magpie.

For more information about Laura, find her here:

Twitter @ScorpioScribble

Facebook: Laura Wilkinson Author

Instagram: laura_wilkinsonwriter

Pinterest: laura1765

Goodreads: Laura_ Wilkinson

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