Thursday 27 February 2014

Blog hop - what I'm working on now

My friend Suzie O’Connell, writer of the very successful Northstar Angels romance series recently tagged me in a blog hop to talk a little about my current projects and what I write. Thanks, Suzie, for tagging me. Here goes …

What am I working on?

My primary work in progress at the moment is a prequel to my Tube Riders Trilogy. The overview title is Rise of the Governor, but I have another title in mind which is underwraps for now. The reason being that I’m still trying to structure the story and I’m unsure how many parts it will end up as. The Tube Riders Trilogy tales place over three years, and came out at 450,000 words. The Governor’s backstory encompasses almost 140 years! It’s likely to be a trilogy, focusing on three key stages in his life. I won’t lie and say that part of me isn’t doing this because of the added financial incentives of writing a trilogy, because in a way it is. However, I never scrimp the reader. Each book will be long, and it will be a complete story, full of action, tragedy, heartbreak, and all the other stuff my fans have come to expect.

In addition to this, I’ve been doing a few other bits and bobs. I write sports stories under a pen name (Michael White), and I’m just finishing up the sixth in the series. After Tube Riders, they’re my biggest sellers these days. On top of that, I recently had a halleluiah moment when I figured out how to do page numbering for paperbacks, at long last. For a long time my personal finances have meant I could only afford to pay a formatter to do my longer novels, but now that I can do internal paperback formatting myself all of my novellas and collections will soon be available in paperback. Just yesterday I commissioned the covers of my comedy novellas (under the name of Michael S. Hunter) to be expanded into paperback covers, so they should be available within a week or two. All my short story collections will soon follow.

And the final thing is the Tube Riders boxed set. I’m currently using my spare moments to do the hyperlinked table of contents. It’s time consuming…

How does my work differ from others in the genre?

My main work, The Tube Riders books, is dystopia with trains. That, as far as I can find, is completely unique in the genre. I am a trendsetter, not a follower. I have never once tried to write a book because “that’s what’s popular now”. That’s lame. In years to come people will praise me as the man who made trains cool. I mean, come on, what’s not to like? They’re these massive, noisy, snake-like machines that can go at huge speeds. Tube Riding should be more popular than soccer, because its way more exciting, if a little dangerous…

Why do I write what I write?

I just love writing. Genre isn’t so important for me, because I’ve written in many different genres. My stories do follow a common theme though, and that is that they are low on tech but high on human interactions. So, in a sense, I guess, my writing is about examining the human condition.

How does my writing process work?

It’s gone through a number of transformations over the years, but right now I try to write the first drafts as quickly as possible. I write hard, and I write every day. I work full time, so I can’t write massive amounts, but I aim for around 2,000 words a day. This year so far I’ve written 107,348 words. I’m not happy, but I’m satisfied. And yes, I keep a spreadsheet…! Deadlines and targets are everything for me, so I keep a record of daily/monthly/yearly wordcounts, averages per day/month/year, etc. There’s always a target somewhere to push me on for another couple of hundred words.

Once the draft is done, it goes on the shelf. Everyone works differently, but I like to leave my drafts to mature until I can barely remember the plot. A couple of months at least. Then I can go back to it with a fresh set of eyes. Depending on how bad it is (they’re always bad), I’ll give it three or four edit passes before it goes on to an editor/proofreader. I’m a perfectionist and I trust my own vision. That’s not to say that if an editor, proofreader or beta reader comes back and says they don’t like something I ignore it, because I don’t. I make changes where necessary. But 99% of what you see in the final book is me. 

Then, when it’s published, I’ll have a can of beer, take a day off (during which my free time always feels completely empty) and then I’ll get back into something else. I can’t usually start a new novel off the cuff, so I do things like edit old stories for a day or two, change some covers, update my book details in my other books. Usually within a week or so I can get into the next project.

I’ve seen a lot of criticism of people who write fast, but I disagree. In practically every other pastime, the most you practice, the better you get. It’s the same with writing. My output is puny compared to some guys I know, but the more I write the better I write. Also, the more ideas you get, the more seem to come. It’s all part of brain exercise. I’m not overly prolific when it comes to coming up with ideas, but I have more than I can write over the next year already queued up. And by next year … I’ll probably be facing the same problem. It’s a good problem to have.
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Chris Ward
February 28th 2014

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for that Chris ~ its amazing that sheer hard draft takes such a front seat compared to inspiration... but its true, and from what I've read, other artists (painters) have said the same....Your determination and hard work~ its totally impressive and inspiring! ... and the proof of the pudding is in the eating they say.... and yes, you just get better! :) C x