Friday, 2 May 2014

My Writing Process by Annie Burrows

On the first Friday of the month, Novelista Annie Burrows blogs about her writing life.  This month, she is taking part in the "Writing Process" blog hop, after being tagged by fellow Novelista Valerie-Anne Baglietto
What am I working on?

I'm collaborating with two other Harlequin writers (Sarah Mallory and Louise Allen) in a trilogy which we're bringing out in 2015 to commemorate the bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo. So far we're calling it "The Battlefield Brides", but that is just a working title.  It's great fun working on a continuity, like this.  I have two other ladies immersed in my characters' adventures, and we're constantly chatting to each other, via emails, as our work progresses.  We might be checking background research, making sure our timelines match up perfectly, or simply swapping pictures of the actors we'd like to play our heroes.

(Photo:  Major Adam Flint, Hero of Louise Allen's book, brooding...)

How do my stories differ from others of their genre?

Every writer, in fact every person on this planet has a unique personality.  No two of us are alike.  If three people were to write down a description of the same event, each of them would be radically different - because each person looks at the world through a unique perspective.  So my books reflect my take on life, which tends to mean that they keep on leaning towards the more light-hearted end of the Regency spectrum.  If I have a highwayman holding up a coach, for example, it is as likely to turn into a comic scene as a moment of high drama.

(Photo: Major Bartlett, plotting the seduction of my heroine)

Why do I write?

I'm very tempted to quote Valerie-Anne Baglietto's answer here (from previous blog post)  In a nutshell, I can't help it!  Like Val, if I don't write, I get twitchy.  Like Val, I've always had a cast of characters flitting like butterflies through my brain.  When I was very young, I used to think of these people as my "invisible friends".  And nowadays I still feel as if I spend my time writing down the adventures of my invisible friends.

How does my writing process work?

If only I knew!  Well, ok, then.  Basically, I have a set of characters, or a scene, drifting around my mind which I feel a need to write down.  Because I make my living from writing, I then have a jolly good think about whether I could make that scene, or those characters, grow into a fully fledged story.  (I have dozens of notebooks full of snippets which may or may not get used.)  If I think a story will "work", or if the characters just won't leave me alone, I jot down an outline and send it to my editor at Mills & Boon to see if she likes it.  Mostly, by the time I've got to this stage with a fledgling story, I know that it could become a book that others would enjoy reading.

When I get the go-ahead for any story, I launch into it with great enthusiasm, flinging all my ideas down as I go. And then I print out what I've written, so that I can look at it the way a reader would look at it.  And start sorting out the language, making it into the kind of thing someone would (hopefully) get a great deal of entertainment from reading.  This is always the most difficult bit for me - bringing my characters and their predicaments to life on the page.  Imagining their adventures is easy - bringing them to life requires weeks of slog. 

Annie's latest book, "Portrait of a Scandal" is available for purchase from Amazon UK

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