Category: Writing musings

Post 5: Thoughts on maps

Post 5: Thoughts on maps

My cunning plan to reread all nine of the published Brightmoon books got bogged down in the pesky business of releasing a new Regency romance, so I’m a little behind schedule with the reading, but in the meantime, I’ve been thinking a little bit about maps. Every self-respecting fantasy has maps, right? Well, mine didn’t, partly because the early books were fairly localised, so there wasn’t really much need for one, so it was quite a long time before I started doodling on bits of paper to try to pull together the various places. But largely, I confess, it was because I didn’t know anyone who would make one for me and I didn’t have the skills to do it. Not an insuperable problem, probably, but somehow I never got round to making a full map of the Brightmoon world, beyond those doodles. But then along came The Second God, […]


Author answers 23: What is your favourite point of view and tense to write in and why?

This is a fun question, because until not so long ago, my answer would have been: you what? Point of view? Tense? Errrr… It was only when I’d finished my first novel and introduced it to the harsh and unforgiving glare of an online critique group that I discovered just how little I knew about writing. That book, I discovered, was written in third person limited, past tense. With my second book, I moved on to first person past tense, and there I stayed for several more books. What’s the difference? With third person (’she climbed the stairs’), there’s an immediate distance between the reader and the character. The reader is on the outside, observing the character’s actions. With first person (’I climbed the stairs’), the reader is right inside the character’s head. Now, it’s perfectly possible to convey a character’s inner thoughts and feelings in a vivid and visceral […]

Posted August 13, 2017 by PaulineMRoss in AuthorsAnswer, Writing musings / 0 Comments

Author answers 22: Barring a zombie apocalypse, is there anything that could make you stop writing?

Wow, it’s more than a month since I posted anything here! No, I’m not dead, folks, just embroiled in summer holidays. So lots of catching up to do. On to a long-delayed authors answer question: could anything make you stop writing? Of course. Death, serious illness, a whole swathe of troubles affecting me or my family would do it. Writing is an indulgence, for me, but it’s not something I regard as an inseparable part of my life. Making up stories in my head, yes, that’s me, it’s something I’ve done all my life and it will probably be the last thing to go when senility overtakes me. But writing those stories down? Fun to do, and even more fun to publish, but not essential to my well-being. Footnote: Authors Answer is the brainchild of blogger Jay Dee Archer, of I Read Encyclopedias For Fun. You can read the answers […]

Posted August 11, 2017 by PaulineMRoss in AuthorsAnswer, Writing musings / 0 Comments

Authors answer #20: What element of writing (setting, characterization, plot development, etc.) do you find most challenging?

For me, it’s definitely the plot. I’m a pantser, which means I just start writing without much thought in my head of where the story might take me. I usually start with a character, or a group of characters, in a particular situation, and I just turn them loose, so to speak, and they make their own decisions and steer the story. The setting grows around them. But, while this kind of ‘discovery’ writing, where the author discovers the story at the time without any forethought or planning, can lead to problems. You can find your characters have got themselves into a deep hole and really can’t get out again without miraculous help, and that’s a big no-no. There’s even an expression for it: deus ex machina, (the god from the machine). This doesn’t happen to me very often, since my characters tend to be sensible chaps and chapesses, who […]

Posted February 12, 2017 by PaulineMRoss in AuthorsAnswer, Writing musings / 0 Comments

2016 review: Part 3: Writing

I got a lot of writing done in 2016. A lot. I finally found my stride, and increased my speed, as well as making daily writing a more consistent habit, and the result was (tada! roll of drums!): 548,000 words written Which is a lot! Of that, 167,000 words, or 30%, was fantasy and the rest Regency romance. For the fantasy, I wrote the whole of The Second God and began Findo Gask’s Apprentice. For the Regencies, I finished Amy, and wrote Belle, Connie, Dulcie, Grace and Hope, plus a novella, Mary. I discovered along the way that I can’t write two books at the same time. I can, however, write one and edit another, so that’s how I work it. At any one time, I’ll have one book being written, another ‘brewing’, or resting before editing, and another being edited or otherwise prepared for publication. At this precise moment, […]


Authors Answer 19: How did you get into writing and what made you select your genre of choice?

I didn’t exactly ‘get into’ writing. For me it was never something I just took up, in the way one might decide to take up golf or macrame or yoga. I’ve always been ‘in’ writing. At school, I loved those free-for-all creative writing exercises. Not the ‘what I did on my holidays’ dullathons, but the ‘imagine you’re a fairy’ stuff. Not that there was much of that after primary school. Secondary school was far too serious for such frivolities. So I turned to writing my own comic strips, and (later) extremely bad fan fiction, although I didn’t know then what it was. A few years later, when I lived abroad and couldn’t work, I bought a manual typewriter and bashed out most of a Regency romance. Why Regency? Because that’s what I was reading at the time, trawling methodically through the entire Georgette Heyer catalogue. For a few years, the […]

Posted January 14, 2017 by PaulineMRoss in AuthorsAnswer, Writing musings / 0 Comments

Authors Answer 17: What authors, styles or intellectual movements have most influenced your writing?

Authors Answer 17: What authors, styles or intellectual movements have most influenced your writing?

For the fantasy, I can’t honestly say that anything has really influenced my writing. I haven’t read a vast amount in the genre, and what I have read is mostly of a type I wouldn’t wish to emulate. Game of Thrones is too dark and nihilistic. Robin Hobb is downright depressing — beautifully written work that I hated. The authors whose work I most admire — Mark Lawrence, Daniel Abraham, Glenda Larke, Guy Gavriel Kay — are so brilliant I feel embarrassed to call myself a writer. My own work is such a mishmash of genre tropes that if someone asks me: “What other books are like yours?” I genuinely can’t answer. This isn’t a boast, by the way — it’s a Very Bad Thing not to be able to place your own books in the pantheon of genres. It’s embarrassing, and the result of ignorance of the genres rather […]


Let’s go camping!

Let’s go camping!

I’ve never joined in a NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) before — it just never fitted it with what I was working on, and I didn’t feel I could manage to write 50,000 words in a month. So each November the good ship NaNoWriMo went sailing past without me. But this year the moons aligned sufficiently for me to give Camp NaNoWriMo a go. What changed? The first difference was that I actually planned to start a new book anyway last month. I know some people just carry on with whatever project they’re already working on, but I’ve always liked the idea of having a NaNo project – something written from scratch in NaNo month. I finished my last epic fantasy at the end of March, and April was pencilled in for the second of my Regency romance series. It was planned to be 50,000 words, a perfect NaNo length. […]

Posted May 2, 2016 by PaulineMRoss in Writing musings / 1 Comment

My editing process

I’m deep into the final edit of The Dragon’s Egg at the moment, and I thought it might be of interest to go into my editing process a little bit. Everyone has their own way of tackling the editing part of the job, and none of them are better or worse than any other, as long as the end result is a more polished and well-written piece of work. The only strategy I don’t recommend is skipping the editing process altogether. There are people who write a single draft and send it off into the world; Mark Lawrence, author of Prince of Thorns, is one of them, and if you write as well as he does, you can do whatever you like, frankly. But for mere mortals, or those of us with less experience, a solid editing process is essential. Here’s my system: 1) First draft editing This sounds like […]


Plotting for pantsers

Most authors like to plot a book out before they start to write. For some, that may be a couple of A4 sheets of scribbled notes. For others, it will be so detailed that it includes every chapter and scene, including lists of characters present and what happens, with a huge pile of background notes on characters, places, research, historical data and so on. The advantage is that when they come to write, they can focus on the words and not have to keep stopping to work out what happens next. The disadvantage is that a tightly plotted book can feel over-contrived and artificial. And then there are pantsers. What’s a pantser? An author who writes by the seat of her pants, that’s what. A pantser sits down with a blank sheet of paper (metaphorically, because almost everyone writes direct to computer these days), maybe a character or two and […]