#startingwrite is a hashtag event on Twitter for writers. Instead of posting an answer a day, Because I have some writing to do this weekend to a deadline, I decided that instead of a general blog post this week, I’d answer all the #startingwrite questions in a blog post instead. So, here goes!

1. Are there any mistakes/bad habits from your writing last year that you want to make right this year?
Upon a beta-read process, I discovered I used hackneyed phrases and cliches too frequently. I’ve been working on developing original metaphors/similes and exploring utilising language as a tool more significantly in my writing.

2. Describe your current WIP as if you were doing an elevator pitch.
Having done this repeatedly lately, I’d just say check out the synopsis of c u l8tr on my Writing page.

3. The eternal question of fiction writing: Are you a pantser or a plotter?
I’m the hybrid of both: the Planster. I will just hit the keyboard running and go with the flow, but I also have a strategy of planning to a certain degree. I like to have a basic outline of the plot to know where I’m headed and I like to map out scenes constructed in my head before I forget or lose them. I also tend to have character snapshots set up so I don’t lose consistency with them. But mostly, I go with the flow.

4. Did you write your chapters in order they appear in your book?
No, generally not. I don’t write to a chronological plan. My novels are always written as a series of scenes that I shuffle and change later on when I have a better idea of where they fit.

5. Describe your favourite character from your WIP and why.
I’d have to say Liam, my protagonist. Without him, there would be no WIP. He’s a laidback, easygoing introvert but don’t think he’s a doormat because he’s reserved or that you can take him for granted. He hates conflict, but he also won’t let you walk all over him if you’re trying to throw him under the bus. Liam shares a lot of innate qualities with me, but he’s not a self-insert or replica of me by any means. I’m enjoying writing him because I understand him and how he sees the world.

6. What is your current progress (including word count if any) in your WIP?
I’m sitting at around 83,000 words of my first draft and counting. I know not all of these scenes will make the final cut in the editing and re-writing phase, but I needed to write them to understand my characters better. Currently briefly on hold while I write some chapters of another project for a publishing submission.

7. How many POVs does your WIP have and why?
One. I am writing the novel in Deep POV, therefore readers only really see into Liam’s head and how he is perceiving the world and the other characters. Of course, that means some things he may interpret differently to how they really are, but that is the beauty of working with this point of view.

8. What do you feel most aspiring writers tend to neglect in their work?
I include myself in this: confidence in their creations. Self-doubt is inevitable, but it’s easy to let that affect what you’re writing and how you’re writing it. Shed the shackles and just let yourself write whatever is in your head and hold off on letting outside influences infiltrate it. That is what the editing process is, when you can begin to go over your work with a fine-toothed comb and think about the “rules” and influences you want to utilise in your final product.

9. When are you most productive in your writing? 
Late at night, very early morning. I’ve always been a night-owl and a painsomniac. No matter how much I have tried, writing effectively in the daylight hours never puts out as good a product as my night-writing. So the whole “Get up early and write to give yourself more time” is never advice that will work for me. I’d rather sacrifice early mornings to sleep and stay up later to churn out better writing in general.

10. What do you do to break your story out of the realm of cliches and overused tropes?
Play with language. A lot. When you’re a writer, don’t fear language or think you’re doing it wrong. If you do, editors or beta readers will help you see that later. But also, I let myself fall into the cliche and trope traps initially because they’re a good way to know what you’re trying to imply in a scene. If I try too much in the process of penning a scene, it may clog my creative flow and I’ll lose confidence in what I’m writing. But I highlight it as a vital step in my editing process to go back and find something fresher and more unique to my story. Like pottery, writing is about moulding with words, so you can’t be afraid to get your hands dirty when you do it.

11. If you have a significant other, do they write? How does this affect your relationship? If you’re single, would you want an SO who writes?
My husband doesn’t write. He’s more technical and engineering-minded, where I’m more creative-minded. Of course it doesn’t affect the relationship. We’re not carbon-copies of each other! He does his thing and I do mine. It works perfectly.

12. Describe your favourite scene from your WIP and why.
When Braden confesses to Liam that he’s gay and likes him, after harbouring a crush on him for about a year and a half. He’s terrified Liam will think he’s a stalker or a perve. At the very least, he thinks Liam will turn out to be straight and there’s no hard feelings. At the worst, he fears Liam will hate him and tell him to go screw himself, considering their long-standing personality clash. Liam doesn’t know what he is because he has never analysed it so he goes with the flow and agrees to get to know Braden better to figure out what should happen next.

13. What piece of software do you use to write with and why?
Scrivener – and it’s an absolute writer’s godsend!  I used to use Word, but now I don’t know what I did without Scrivener. It’s created to assist writers in the writing process and has brilliant features like scene and plot structuring, saving research, index cards for annotating scenes, and snapshotting scenes before editing them. There are way too many features to list, but if you’re a writer, I’d say do yourself a favour and invest in it.

14. If your WIP were to get a film adaptation, who would you want to direct? Why?
Baz Luhrmann. Why not? A girl can dream, can’t she? 😉 Because he’s Australian and his work is incredible. Enough said.

15. MLK Day: Does race or racism play a role in your WIP?
Not in this particular project, no. The story is very Australian with Australianisms and there are some secondary characters from other races, but it’s not a primary theme.

16. Do you ever suffer from what I call “Middle of the Book Blues?” It’s a depression when you’re about halfway through your MS and begin to doubt your abilities.
I more suffer “Entirety of the Book Blues”. My doubts go up and down like a rollercoaster. Some days, I absolutely love my output and what I’m doing. I love my talent and abilities. Other days, I look at what I’m doing and wonder how the hell I believe I’m a writer, or think no one will ever like my work. I think that’s all natural when you’re putting your creative self and work out into the world.

17. Do you listen to music when you write? If so, then what?
Incessantly. I have playlists set up for my stories that evoke the emotions of the scenes I’m writing. I always love finding songs that are spot-on to my scenes or my characters’ emotions. I’ve never been someone who only likes specific bands. I always get a feel for music through the lyrics and the stories they tell.

18. What author is your biggest inspiration and why?
Ian Rankin and JK Rowling. They have both had challenging lives and I have always been able to identify with their journeys, especially in the early days as writers. The struggles they faced keeping faith in their work through rejections or life-challenges. They’re also both Scottish, which gives them extra points, of course 😉 Beyond that, they have created characters I fell in love with and really felt like I walked beside in their plots. That, to me, is the sign of a brilliant writer.

19. What is your favourite prop, item, or object featured in your WIP and why?
When Braden asks Liam to meet up with him to finally confess his feelings, he takes him to a secluded stretch of beach where not many people go so they aren’t discovered. Liam kicks a shell towards him and Braden picks it up and pockets it. We don’t find out he kept it until later in the plot when he has a special gift made out of it for Liam. The shell is my favourite object in the story because it symbolises the turning point in their connection.

20. Don’t publicly name the book (we want to stay positive), but what has the least favourite book you’ve ever read taught you about writing better?
That it is possible to have too much banal realism in a book. I love writing realism, but it can bog a story down if there is too much of it and the plot gets lost.

21. What non-writing related activity helps you write better?
Reading, reading, reading. Watching TV shows and movies. People-watching. Travel. To me, it’s all research, just in a non-direct way. I believe you need to absorb life into your mind, heart and soul to be able to be a writer or you will never have the tools you need to convince readers you’re the right person to tell a story.

22. Do you plan to go for traditional publishing or self-pub?
Traditional has always been the goal and a lifelong dream. I want to at least shoot for that first and exhaust all those avenues because falling back on self-pub. Who knows what the future will hold?

23. Writing can be lonely: What do you do when not writing to keep social?
I don’t actually find writing lonely at all. I never have. I feel the most alive when I’m writing and creating. I won’t be all cliche and say I think of my characters as real people, but when you share brain space with them, they exist as if they were real in many ways. If they don’t, how can you convey in words the realism of their story? Besides, I’m an introvert so a majority of my socialising in with a close circle of people and less frequently socialising in large groups. I’m happy with that, I’m happy with solitude. I have never needed a vast number of people to exist. I love who I am and I know I’m lucky my life gives me the freedom to sink a lot of time into my creative goals.

24. Do you feel the need to strike a balance between writing and something else in your life? Do you find one takes away from the other?
Not really. I’ve given a lot of myself to others in the past who took it for granted or didn’t appreciate it. I made a conscious choice to stop doing that and to nudge writing up the ladder as one of my main priorities. I knew if I didn’t, I would never be able to achieve my goal of being a professional writer. It’s not just a hobby for me, it’s a career path and my sense of purpose. Life’s a good balance for me, perhaps because I stripped it back after being diagnosed with a chronic illness. But I also believe if you’re meant to be doing something, you’ll figure out a way to pull it off.

25. Is there a subject matter you are uncomfortable writing about?
Explicit sex. I’m more a fade-to-black girl these days. I’m also not comfortable with horror or gore. I have more I enjoy writing about without needing to delve into these arenas.

26. Favourite quote in your WIP?
He enveloped Braden in a hug. “We’ve got this…”
“Have we?”
“Sure. We just need to figure out what ‘this’ is.”
Braden released the hug and caught Liam in one of those unreadable gazes again. “What do you want it to be?”
Liam glanced at the ripples of sun skating across the mottled surface of the ocean. As beautiful as the sunrise was, it was sloppy seconds to what was sitting beside him. “Memorable.”

27. Who in your life gets excited about your writing?
My husband, my parents, my friends, my boss… and my furkid, of course. But she’s excited about anything 😉 One day, I hope to have some loyal readers who love my work and get excited about it too.

28. Does your WIP have/teach any lessons? What are they? Are they subtle or in-your-face and preachy?
The glaring obvious lesson is don’t text while driving, but the story isn’t preachy about it. It simply shows the awful aftermath of it. The less-obvious lesson is to cherish each day you’re still alive because somewhere, someone is losing a person they love or a young life that was stifled is being cut short. And it doesn’t matter what, or how long, it takes to discover your own identity, it’s valid and should be valued.

29. Do you have any time-jumps or flashbacks in your WIP?
The story consistently flips between two timeframes: the current day in the wake of Braden’s death, and Liam’s memories of the start of their relationship and developing up to Braden’s accident.

30. State of the WIP address: Give us an update of the current condition of your WIP (including word count) and where you plan for it to go after this month?
On brief hold while I finish another project. Still very much an early-days first draft.

31. After this WIP is complete, what do you hope to do for your next project?
I have three other novels waiting in the holding cells of my brain, and a fantasy/superhero world to build for a story that jumped into my head randomly a few weeks ago. I’m never short of writing to do!

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