Its been a while since I've found time to blog, two consecutive weeks of touring the home counties have taken toll of my time with many an hour spent driving on motorways. The weather has been good and once again I have been fortunate enough to be able to appreciate the countryside and the amazing old buildings that pepper the country villages and hamlets. Every school I go to is warm and welcoming and the children engage with the activities I set willingly. The standard of writing in year six now is so high that many of the children already compose their work at a higher standard than their parents; a positive sign for the future of British writing and a continuance of a artform that has always been strong in our history.
I've decided to take a break from writing new material for a while, in truth it's about time I took some time off to concentrate on the forty odd books that I have written and not yet started to edit. I've set my goals for the long summer break, as far as that goes, and I won't be resting on my laurels for too long. I'm really looking forward to the imminent launch of my two series for key stage one. The picture books are for the six to nine year olds and I have a new cross over series for the five to eight year olds with the action taking place at sea. My illustrator Laura has been working hard on the first book in both series and I can tell you now that her work is amazing. In addition to this,I am hoping to finish editing the first in a new series of young adult books called Chameleon Origin. The book features two female lead characters who have powers of the mind, but I'm not yet ready to reveal how they get them and how they decide to use them. I also have a special book to launch at Christmas. It's not exactly a Christmas book but is set at Christmas and is the only book I have written that isn't part of a series. Then the next Walking With book, also due out at Christmas and this is one for the girls. You'll have to wait a little longer for details though.
So its a case of busy, busy, busy, and to be honest I wouldn't have it any other way. The life of a writer is a never ending cycle of writing, editing, promoting, marketing and advertising and thats without the research that you have to do for the books and the research you have to do into what other authors are writing. It pays to keep an eye on them if you want to make sure what you do is different from everybody else and I most certainly want to do things differently.
Keep your eyes peeled for the date of my next Waterstones signing. All six of the Walking with Series will be available to be purchased and signed by me in store and I will look forward to seeing old friends and making new ones there. The date will be published soon on all my media sites. Not long until the holidays now and I bet you can't wait, it's been a long year but in the meantime keep reading and enjoying the escapism each book can offer.
In my travels I have been asked many times about editing, what system I use and who does it. I have always been a supporter of the free writing approach where you let your imagination flow unchecked and allow the story to take you on a journey. In most cases that works for me. Having written fifty-nine books now, only three remain unfinished and that was because of the direction the stories took. If I don't like what I have written then I don't pursue it into the editing stage. Writing in this manner doesn't allow me to stop and check what I have composed and as such mistakes come as a consequence. It's a trade off, unchecked, imaginative writing that flows unrestrictedly or correct on route which often stunts or even shuts down the imagination process. Each to their own, what works for me doesn't necessarily work for others and I just prefer to separate the creative side of writing from the technical side of writing.
Having people to read the story at this stage is very beneficial, despite the mistakes and lack of editing for grammar, opinions of the story and characters are crucial to the later developmental stages I go through.
In my first edit run I like to focus on the story itself. Is there enough twists and turns, enough detail and description and is the balance between description and dialogue correct. I colour code description and dialogue. I often add complete chapters in at this stage for a variety of reasons: action, consequence, solution etc.
My second run is all about the characters. Are they true to my description and personality all through the book? Consistency of this is paramount to making them believable and real. Do they make mistakes as individuals, does the plot offer them challenge and difficulty. Again this all adds to their believability.
My third run is about waffle. When I write in the manner i do I quite often say things twice, unnecessarily within a sentence, adding which and that to stress a point that doesn't need it. Its also about recomposing sentences that don't have the desired effect that I had tried for. At this point it still isn't about grammar.
My fourth run is about the dialogue, this run is about using contractions correctly and making sure that the voices my characters use remains consistent throughout the story.
Once this is done I start the real grammar and punctuation runs. I do two runs with a few weeks break between the two runs before I ask others to look at it for me. The more people involved in this the better.
Currently I have a reader, who appraises the story, three separate editors, and two amazing artists on my team.
Writing the first draft takes considerably less time than the editing process but a great story needs great editing to turn it into greta writing.
Happy reading Steve