Thursday, May 17, 2007

A medley of writing thoughts

The very talented Amanda Mann ( has put a fascinating series of questions on her blog today, and invited me to answer them too - which I'll try to the best of my ability. I'm not a great believer in the concept of "tagging", but if there's anyone else out there who'd like to answer them too, feel free to have a go!

1. Do you outline?
Not if I can help it would be my usual answer - but my agent ( made me do it for The Gifting, and actually it's helped. Probably because it's fantasy, therefore a genre I haven't tackled before and also much longer than my usual projects.

2. Do you write straight through a book, or do you sometimes tackle the scenes out of order?
Straight through on the whole. But I do dot about every now and again.

3. Do you prefer writing with a pen or using a computer?
Always pen for poetry. Usually straight to computer for novels (though, again, the last fifth of The Gifting has been done by pen first).

4. Do you prefer writing in first person or third?
First person for my gay male protagonists; third person for my straight or bisexual women.

5. Do you listen to music while you write?
Never. It's just too distracting.

6. How do you come up with the perfect names for your characters?
By guesswork and trying things out. For Maloney's Law, I did ask my husband for a good solid surname for my main character, Paul, and he suggested "Cole" - as he thought a novel entitled "Cole's Law" would be a bestseller. Hmm, so much for marital support, eh?!...

7. When you're writing, do you ever imagine your book as a television show or movie?
Sometimes. The scenes always happen in my head like a film as I write them down. Afterwards, I fantasise about which people would be best to play which parts. For more of that, see and click onto the Film section!

8. Have you ever had a character insist on doing something you really didn't want him/her to do?
Yes. Or, rather, they've taken the book in different directions and I'm more than happy to give them their head.

9. Do you know how a book is going to end when you start it?
No. I like a surprise! Sometimes, I do write a quasi-ending fairly early on (I like something to aim for ...) but I always change it when I get there.

10. Where do you write?
At the computer in the spare room; on the sofa in the living room; on holiday; at work; on trains; sometimes on the loo in the middle of the night when I've wanted some privacy! Dont' we all?

11. What do you do when you get writer's block?
Panic. Attempt to do something different in another genre to kick myself out of it.

12. What size increments do you write in (either in terms of wordcount, or as a percentage of the book as a whole)?
I used to go for 2000 words on a clear day, but I've scaled that down to about 500-1000 now.

13. How many different drafts did you write for your last project?
One so far! I've just finished (hurrah! hurrah!) the first draft of The Gifting at 123,000 words and am preparing to start the edit now.

14. Have you ever changed a character's name midway through a draft?
Once only - with my first novel.

15. Do you let anyone read your book while you're working on it, or do you wait until you've completed a draft before letting someone else see it?
I take the start of my work to Guildford Writers Group ( and also upload sections to the Writewords site ( Comments received are very helpful indeed.

16. What do you do to celebrate when you finish a draft?
Eat chocolate. Crack open the champagne.

17. One project at a time, or multiple projects at once?
Usually one novel at a time (unless they overlap towards the end of one and the start of another), but I also write flash fiction and poetry to get a writing balance and to give myself a boost during the longer projects.

18. Do your books grow or shrink in revision?

19. Do you have any writing or critique partners?
Not really. But see Question 15. It's a very private matter, I think.

20. Do you prefer drafting or revising?
Both can be fun, but revising is when you can really get your teeth into it. Hold on, Simon - I've got The Gifting in my sights now so you'll soon be rather more polished than you currently are!!...

So, there you go. Hope you enjoyed the brief run-through of Brooke's Writing Style. I certainly did!

Other things that have happened today (apart from finishing the first draft of The Gifting - did I mention that?...) include Sean at Flame Books ( contacting me to say that he knows that A Dangerous Man needs a more proactive marketing push on their behalf and he's hoping to rectify this over the coming weeks. That'll be good (says she!) but I wait to see what plans he might come up with. Now that he's seen that I'm being proactive on the internet marketing front, I'm hoping it might be matched by Flame, so I've given him some ideas - and I'm hoping that will come to fruition.

I've also put together my novel submissions (all Thorn in the Flesh, as I think it's probably my most easily marketable work) for the Annual Writers' Conference ( one-to-ones with publishers and will post them off later today or tomorrow - apparently I'll be seeing Alex Bonham from Hodder & Stoughton, Katie Elspiner from Transworld, and novelist and ex-Darley Anderson agent, Lucie Whitehouse. I'm hoping against hope that they'll be more pleasant than the two (very well-known) agents I saw in my first conference who told me I was unpublishable, unmarketable and unreadable. Bollocks to those two, I say - they obviously have no idea about quality! But I'm hoping that the people I see this year won't be as rude or curt as they usually are at these things - after all, we pay good money for these conferences; we deserve decent treatment at least.

Oh, and I've just finished Jodi Picoult's Keeping Faith. The usual Picoult brilliance. I loved it! A great and clever ending too. More please (though as Picoult writes about a novel a month, that won't be too hard a task for her to fulfill ...)!

Tonight, Lord H and I are going to see "Skin Tight" (drama with nudity, I think - hurrah!) at the Mill Theatre in Guildford tonight, so that'll put smiles on our faces for sure. Best make sure I set the video for "The Last Detective" before we go.

Today's nice things:

1. Finishing the first draft of The Gifting (did I say that already??...)
2. Thinking about my writing methods
3. The Picoult book.

Anne Brooke


Nik Perring said...

Congrats on the first draft completion!

Anne Brooke said...

Thanks, Nik!



Hippy Writer said...

I have quite a few jodi picoult books so yell if you want to borrow any!

Anne Brooke said...

Ooh lovely, thanks, Julia - will do!!