Writerly Navel-Gazing ~ Week 21: Questions 19, 20 and 21

Happy First-Day-of-NaNoWriMo 2017 everybody! Are you taking part in NaNoWriMo this year? If you are, add me as a writing buddy! We can cheer each other on. My profile is here.

Part of the 30 Week Writing Challenge. Click here to view all questions.

19. Favourite minor that decided to shove themselves into the spotlight and why.

To answer this question I must tell you a story (speaking of NaNoWriMo…!):

This time last year I was feeling super mega low about everything in my life: my weight, my fitness levels… and of course, my writing. At the time, I hadn’t written anything for about four years. This was because the last thing I’d written in The Mayor was so incredibly distressing, so immeasurably unpleasant and bleak, that it had taken everything I had in me to write and than some. Once it was down on paper it I found I didn’t really have the emotional fortitude to continue, so I decided to spend some time away from my book to gain some distance.

When I eventually came back to it all a few months later, I realised something awful: I’d written a pile of absolute crap.

What the hell was I meant to do? I’d written so many words… Poured in so much effort and love… and for what? To produce a book broken beyond all repair? I couldn’t edit what I’d already written because the book wasn’t finished. I couldn’t continue writing because what I’d already written no longer made any sense. It was so disheartening, so depressing, that I stopped writing altogether. I realise now that this was the Depression talking, but back then I didn’t know any better. I was a proverbial mess.

Time passed. I got better. I went to see a counsellor, found a wonderful new boyfriend, bought a flat, changed jobs and ditched my zombifying medication. Achieving all of these things freed up a fair amount of space in my head, so I decided to make some further changes to my routine. One of these things was to get back into writing again, but how? Picking up from where I left off seemed insurmountable at the time.

So I had a conversation with myself that went a little bit like this:

Brain: What do you want to write?

Me: I want to write The Mayor. But I can’t do that, because it’s broken. How can I fix it?

Brain: Start writing where you left off and pretend that the first half is perfect. At least finish it. Then go back and edit it once it’s done.

Me: O… K… but I’m still pretty rusty. And I’m not really in the mood to write about money, politics and embezzlement fraud right now.

Brain: What are you in the mood to write then?

Me: Sex. Torture. My villain at his most deliciously sordid.

Brain: You have The Brothel Scene…

Me: I DO HAVE THE BROTHEL SCENE.

So for NaNoWriMo 2016, rather than attempt the (quite frankly impossible — for me anyway) goal of writing 50,000 words in 30 days, I instead turned my attention to hammering out The Brothel Scene to get me back into the habit of writing… and it worked! As soon as I completed it (admittedly a couple of months later, not by the end of November — it clocked it at about 10,048 words in the end), I realised I didn’t want to stop, so went back to writing The Mayor from where I left off, just like my brain originally advised. Now I’m just 7 chapters away from completing my first draft and on track for my deadline at the end of the year… Huzzah!

But that’s not all, because from The Brothel Scene (and the whole point of me telling this long, rambling, self-indulgent story) came Liz Moore — a fairly minor character I’ve since developed into a major player based on some very positive, excitable feedback I received from my friends.

Liz Moore

Aside from the fact she is a totally badass straight-stalking, no-nonsense prostitute who injects some much needed va va voom into the life of one of my characters, I also have a particular fondness for Liz because she was part of that wonderfully productive NaNoWriMo where I found my creative voice again.

So thanks, Liz ♥ and also my friends Kim and Cassie who encouraged me to develop her in the first place.

 20. What are your favourite character interactions to write?

To quote my villain, William Kale:

Torture has a way of revealing the true nature of a man… I wonder what such exquisite suffering will reveal about you?

… I am William Kale.

21. Do any of your characters have children? How well do you write them?

Melora is the daughter of Craven and Anabel Winship, and Jaspher and Jonathan are the sons of Jeremiah and Sofia Carson. I should hope I write the three of them pretty well; they’re the main characters after all!

Melora is the youngest at just 15 years old. She’s the most childish of the three and incredibly immature. John meanwhile is a little older at 16, whilst Jaspher is older at 23, so he’s not a child at all.

I plan to introduce a 14-year-old ship’s boy in Book 2 of The Mayor, but I haven’t written anything about him yet; who knows how he’ll turn out? His name is Nathan Flynn.

S.E. Berrow

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