How do I write? #amwriting

A common question writers debate amongst themselves is do you write linear or not. Is it better for a writer to start at the beginning and move through the story to the end, or go to the part of the book that appeals most and start from there?

Ebook coverNow, I would say I’m a linear writer. I have an outline, I know the roots of my story and the outcome at the end. It’s easy, just begin at chapter one and … Except, I don’t really know my characters. What if I can’t find their voices or one character refuses to settle down? I know, it’s crazy, but authors have these voices in our heads and they can be quite independent. For The Last Thing She Said, I had to evoke the life of three sisters, including twins, meaning three personalities – what a challenge after my last book where I primarily focused on one voice.

To overcome this possibility, I wrote a passage in each character’s voice from somewhere in the book, just to make sure I knew them and had their voices in my head. It snowballed, and I ended up writing each of their parts as separate narratives, then rearranged them according to the plot. It wasn’t quite what I had planned!

The other concern I had was in critical scenes where the plot evolves dramatically or changes direction. What if those just didn’t go as I planned? I abandoned chapter two and wrote something much further along in the story. This scene had to work or else that character would not live on the pages of my book. Again, I broke with the linear writing definition and jumped into the book three-quarters of the way in. Then I danced back to the middle and wrote another crucial scene, before finally settling back at the beginning. Then I jiggled everything around so the middle became the beginning and… okay, it’s not linear at all.

If asked again by a writers’ group – do I write linear style or not – frankly, I don’t know. It depends on the book, and the great thing about writing … no two books are the same. I’m writing my third at the moment, and that too is going its own particular way.

Blog Tour Day 4 – Two reviews and a guest post.

Today I’m visiting some wonderfully named book bloggers. I would like to think my book is devilishly delicious, especially as it opens with a chocolate birthday cake and a quirky ritual involving blowing out a solitary candle.

Devilishly Delicious Book Review – Review

Splashes into Books – Review

Nemesis Book Blog – Guest post on how I wrote The Last Thing She Said


Don’t miss out on the giveaway prize- a free copy of The Women of Heachley Hall is on offer to a lucky winner – follow the link.


Do you like to read about free chapters and short stories, or find out more about your favourite author including their work in progress?

Interested? Then sign up for my reader’s club newsletter: Rachel’s Readers and you’ll receive a complementary short story.

Blog Tour Day 3 – How do I write?

Once again I’m off gallivanting around the country, and the world. I’m taking my book, The Last Thing She Said, to The Netherlands, Ohio, where part of the book is set, and Bristol, where I happily lived for several years as a student.

B for Bookreview – a Q&A about how I write!

Travel to Recovery

Book Babble – Review


Do you like to read about free chapters and short stories, or find out more about your favourite author including their work in progress?

Interested? Then sign up for my reader’s club newsletter: Rachel’s Readers and you’ll receive a complementary short story.

Me and my flute

(I originally posted this on my Quietwriter blog four years ago).

I played in a concert last night. No, concert isn’t the right word. Far too grand. A small performance to an even smaller audience. Did it matter? Not really. I enjoyed the coming together with my fellow musicians and hearing all our hard work successfully performed.

Audience size doesn’t matter, one person, a thousand, the true joy is in the preparation and smiles when we make it to the end of the piece without glaring mistakes.

I’m a flautist. Since 8 years old my primary instrument has been the flute. I took the grades, joined concert bands, and other small ensembles though not orchestras. My latest one is a flute choir. With little opportunity to play regularly, the couple of times a month we meet is my musical fix.

I chose the flute because my best friend at the time played one. It was a fortuitous choice I would discover many years later, but at the time it made sense because I was a competent player of the recorder. The transition to flute made easier due to similar fingering patterns.

My enthusiasm increased as I was exposed to more classical music my parents, visiting the Royal Festival Hall for concerts. The flute is a social instrument, so I learnt to cope with nerves and play in school concerts and regional concerts put on by county music schools.

james galway Technically, I could call myself a grand-pupil of James Galway. My first teacher had been a pupil of his and always called him Jimmy. “I’d I seen Jimmy, yet?” she’d asked.  I did, when I was about 8 or 9, in Devon on holiday. He came to a Dartington Hall to perform a concert and I sat on the balcony, peering through the wooden railings and it enthralled me. His eyes darted about the room – if you play from memory then there is nowhere to look playing the flute, the instrument is to one side and out of eyesight. I fix on a point or shut my eyes, if I play from my heart.

Later, another teacher would suggest I only bought recordings of his earlier performance ‘before he got really famous’, because they were less flamboyant in nature. I’m not sure what my teacher meant – wasn’t that the point, show off your prowess?

Guo yoeOf course, I’ve learnt that unembellished music is often the best. My preferred flautist is now very different – Guo Yue. A Chinese born flautist, who lives in England. He’s expertise is the bamboo flute and there are no keys, just holes to cover. The music he plays is not western in style, the notes slide, drift into each other, swirling. He provided the musical accompaniment for a Channel 4 documentary on China called Beyond the Clouds. It is haunting, melancholic. Beautiful. He’s also trained to play western flutes and music, but I stick to his origins.

220px-Gu_Hongzhong's_Night_Revels,_Detail_4I could never play what he does, I have a Chinese flute, but it is so different, so basic in structure, so difficult to play.

At our concert, we played popular pieces, Irish folk, operatic arias. Our small audience sung along in places. I don’t think they’d have appreciated Chinese flute music. But that is the wonder of music, what I listened to, isn’t necessarily what I enjoy performing, and what inspires me to play is often what I don’t want to actually play myself.


My next book involves three talented sisters, one of whom plays the flute. Will she tackle performing?