My Blog Hop – my approach to writing

Sooooo, after an extremely long and naughty hiatus (shaaadup, writing a novel) the lovely Di, who blogs here, tagged me in this blog hop.

Some of the other members of my writing group have also ‘hopped’. You can find Jessie’s post here and Marg’s here.

It looked like a fun break from the novel and I didn’t want to be a bad sport, so here goes.

  1. Why do I write?

I think, like most writers, my motivations are a complex mix and mess of sometimes contradictory urges. However, in simplest terms, writing is my passion. It’s the only thing (G rated thing, anyway) that I can sit down at after dinner and then suddenly find it’s 0300 and my alarm is four hours away. Not much makes me crankier than when I don’t have time to write or a scene just isn’t working and not much makes me happier than forging on through a novel. When I land a tricky bit of dialogue or nail a bit of action my heart races. When an email from an editor lands in my email the nerves flutter like mad. Writing just lights that fire.

  1. Why do I write what I do?

I love fantasy, unashamedly. I can still remember where I was when I read Gemmell’s Morningstar (the insanely boring road to Murrurundi). I’ve argued with my brothers about the conduct of Horus during the Heresy and Dain II at the Five Armies. I feel like I know the streets of Cimmura and Crydee like a local. There is just something about fantasy. It’s like you get a second chance to write history, but with more colour and depth and passion and fearlessness, and some of the the nastiness and pettiness of real history removed. Well, unless you write Grimdark, then you get to add extra of that mean stuff in. But yeah, I love fantasy. I’d definitely like to have a crack at some other genres later, but fantasy definitely has its hooks pretty deep in me.

  1. What am I working on now?

My current WIP is tentatively called Dark Island Born. It’s a gothic-ish adventure-ish mystery that’s set in a decrepit trading city very loosely inspired by Lubeck during the Thirty Years Wars. Surely Northern Germany deserves more of a crack in fantasy? Venice, Scandinavia and the Home Counties have all been hogging the limelight for way too long.

My very poor (hey, it”ll be a while till I need to pitch this baby) first effort at my elevator pitch is;

A driven young woman sets out to investigate a murder and uncovers something far more terrible.

  1. How does my writing process work?

I’d like to be a pantser, but I’m so bereft of time my method has been getting more and more scientific. For this novel I’ve done a fair bit of planning and this does seem to be helping. I’m not sure it will necessarily make the completed novel any better, but I do think it will cut down on the time I’ll spend murdering my darlings during the edits. We shall see.

My writing method is simple, direct and incredibly unromantic. I’m lucky enough to be fairly fast and am able to smash out bulk words, which helps when you’re working a day job. At the moment I aim to have baby in bed by eight and then I write till I can’t write no more. Using this method I can get a couple of thousand words done on a good night.

  1. Do I differ from others in my genre?

Yes, I do. I’m no genre redefining China Miéville, but my setting, my characters and my voice are all significant points of difference from the rest of my genre. My work isn’t going to get mistaken for anyone else’s stuff. My more thriller-ish pace and structure (Game Bird takes place over 4 months) is also significantly different from most modern fantasy novel’s plots, which generally take place over years or even decades.

P.S. Cause my writing group is already taken I’m going to be lazy and not tag anyone else in the hop.

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9 thoughts on “My Blog Hop – my approach to writing

  1. Firstly, what is a pantser? A writerly term I don’t know?!
    Very insightful answers, Aidan. I’m fascinated by how people write and why, and your post was fascinating. I’m so pleased to read you love fantasy ‘unashamedly.’ China Mieville has changed the way ‘literary’ people view fantasy and not before time. He’s one of my favourite writers. ‘The City & the City’ is mindblowing. I’m glad you broke the drought with this post. I enjoyed reading it.

  2. Thanks, Karen. Pantser is a term I think I’ve absorbed from Twitter. The (slightly artificial) idea is that there are two types of writers. Panters, who fly by the seat of their pants. And planners, who well, that one is easy.

    I do love it, fantasy that is. There is just something deep in it that grabs me. I know what you mean about ‘literary’ people. Mieville, Chabon and Kim Stanely Robinson are all superb authors I feel are currently blurring that edge at the end of genre and the beginning of literary. But it’s funny how pretentious people still are about that divide. Strange times.

    Thanks for dropping in.

  3. Bravo, Aidan! Great stuff, and your passion for writing (and reading) shines through. Pleased you explained the term ‘panster’ as I was going to query its meaning too. I’ve decided I’m really going to have to read more fantasy. Thanks for being a sport and taking part in the Blog Hop.

    • Thanks for asking me, Di. Was a lot of fun and it helped solidify some of my own thoughts on writing. If you do decide to dip your toe into some more fantasy, let me know. I can think of a few authors you’d love.

  4. Great post Aidan! Hearing you speak about fantasy has really made me think differently. Before now, I didn’t see the appeal… honestly, I saw it almost as children’s stories. But your point about rewriting history with more colour and depth made a lightbulb go off in my mind. Thank you for sharing this wonderful insight to your writing process.

    • Thanks, Jessie. Well… in fairness some of the genre is like that, so I can see why you might think that. Plenty is great though and does some really interesting stuff with the liberties fantasy provides.

  5. Great post Aidan – so glad you did it. I’m in awe of how well read you are and your family too – wow, what a family. How amazing to read the same stories and argue or discuss with your brothers, aspects and characters.Are any of the others writing? i agree the Blog Hop is a good exercise to help solidify your ideas on writing – it makes us think more deeply about our process and helps us to own it I think. I agree with all the other comments so far Aidan. And just a little brag I figured out what ‘pantsing’ meant all on my lonesome. I love that you are ‘unashamed” of reading any genre you love. Your distinctive Voice comes through in this blog clearly.

    • Yeah, I never thought about it much when i was younger, but having a family that reads that much is probably rare these days. Two hours on the bus each day probably helped!

      No, none of my other brothers write. A few of them definitely could… they just choose to do sensible things with their free time like drink and rest and watch movies and go out and be sociable. 🙂

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