Friday, 15 July 2016

How I Write and Edit by Liz Nugent - Lying in Wait Blog Tour

I'm delighted to welcome Liz Nugent to my blog today to discuss her writing and editing process. Liz's book Lying In Wait was published by Penguin Ireland on 14 July 2016.

How I Write
by Liz Nugent

In telling how I write and edit, I wouldn’t want any new writer to think that these are hard and fast rules. Every single writer has a different approach. I can only tell you what works for me.

In the beginning, I dream up a character, I know their age, colour, gender, sexuality etc.  Before I ever write a word, I spend weeks thinking about this character, what motivates them, their strengths, fears and vulnerabilities. I might make occasional notes on my phone.

Once I have the central character fixed in my head, I start the process of plotting. I don’t do this separately to a first draft. This is all done at the same time, as the story can often take a different slant or a new twist when I am in the middle of writing it. I have a very broad outline in my head, and then one day, I just begin.

I do this part of the process in my local library. I like the feeling of having people and movement around me. I need to be ‘in the world’ when I am at this stage. I don’t write at a desk, but in one of the big armchairs that I suspect are placed there for the benefit of old age pensioners! I always manage to find an empty one but I prefer the ones beside the window.

I aim to write 1000 words per day. That might take three hours, or six, depending on how focussed I am. I am unable to write for more than six hours a day. I think my head might explode if I tried.

It’s really hard at this stage not to self- edit but the important thing is just to get the core story down on paper (the screen).  I try not to use the delete button at all. Everything can be fixed later. If I get stuck on a particular scene, I will just move on to the next one. It’s hard.  Those people who say ‘the book wrote itself’ drive me up the wall. I am very jealous of them. I would love for my book to write itself while I lay on a beach somewhere! Like any job, writing is work.

I would like to say that I write every day, but some days, I just know that it’s not going to happen. I try not to feel guilt on those days and use them to swat up on any necessary research.

When I have that very rough first draft done, I submit it to my editor so that she can see the general shape of the story (DO NOT do this if you are working on your first novel- if you are submitting for the first time, your work needs to be extremely polished and as good as it can possibly be. You only get the luxury of submitting a rough draft when you have a contract and a good relationship with your editor).

The time between submission and your notes meeting with your editor is nerve wracking. There is nothing to be done between these times.

When my editor comes back to me with her notes, I fall into a well of self-pity and anguish for a few days before accepting that she is right about everything.

I then start redrafting, taking on board all of my editor’s notes. This part I do at home in isolation. It is much easier than the initial plotting. A lot of writers hate this part, but I quite like it because at this stage, at least I have a notion of where I am going and it feels like more of a collaboration than an entirely solo project. There is no specific amount of time this will take. It really depends on how extensive the notes are. With Lying in Wait, the core story remained intact but I rewrote about 75% of the book in five months. That sounds far more horrifying than it was. I just keep the kettle boiled and drink lots of tea.

Once that draft is accepted, the copy editors take over. A word about copy editors: These people are gods. They are there to make you look good. Do not argue with them. They know what they are doing. If they tell you that, grammatically, your sentence makes no sense, they are right. Obey. This part doesn’t take a lot of time. You should be able to do all of your copy edit notes in a week.

Then the proofreaders take over and point out the things that you, your editor, your copy editors and your husband missed. They read your manuscript for the first time with fresh eyes looking for gaps in logic or fractures in your timeline. They can save you from making an idiot of yourself. I have often noticed small errors of fact or logic in a book, and immediately, I no longer trust the writer. The reader must trust the writer to believe in the journey on which they are being taken. So, yes, proofreaders are gods too.

That is the process. Well, that is my process. As I said, every writer is different, but I hope that some of you may find this interesting or useful!

About Liz Nugent
Liz’s first novel Unravelling Oliver was published to critical and popular acclaim in March 2014. It quickly became a firm favourite with book clubs and reader’s groups. In November of that year, it went on to win the Ireland AM Crime Novel of the Year at the Bord Gais Energy Book Awards and was long listed for the International Dublin Literature Prize 2016. She was also the winner of the inaugural Jack Harte Bursary provided by the Irish Writers Centre and the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Dec 2014.

Aside from writing, Liz has led workshops in writing drama for broadcast, she has produced and managed literary salons and will curate the literary strand of Skibbereen Arts Festival in July 2016.

Readers can find out more about Liz Nugent on her website. Follow Liz on Twitter - @lizzienugent 

Lying In Wait
By Liz Nugent
Published by Penguin Ireland (14 July 2016)
ISBN: 978-1844883639

Publisher's description
'My husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle, but the lying tramp deserved it.'

Lydia Fitzsimons lives in the perfect house with her adoring husband and beloved son. There is just one thing Lydia yearns for to make her perfect life complete, though the last thing she expects is that pursuing it will lead to murder. However, needs must - because nothing can stop this mother from getting what she wants ...

Read my review here.

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