This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Fiona Gibson's latest novel is The Great Escape.
1. Can you tell us a little about your average writing day?
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I treat writing as a full-time day job, and used to get stuck in as soon as the last of my three children had gone to school. Now, though, we’ve acquired a bouncy rescue collie cross so he has to be walked too (which I love – it kick-starts my brain). So, because my day is chopped up a bit, I’ve started doing an early morning stint at 6.30 am (gulp). Actually, now I’m used to it, I’ve started to love the quiet and peace of this time of day. Then it’s kids, dog, breakfast – and I’ll work through till 3.30 when my children come home from school. I often work in the evenings too.
2. When you are writing, do you use any celebrities or people you know as inspiration?
I enjoy fast, pacy fiction with depth and humour – writers like Lisa Jewel and India Knight. I’m inspired by them as they tell their stories so well and entertainingly. Usually, though, I’m just focused on sticking to own schedule and the writing of my own book. I feel terribly guilty if I have a slack day – I’m quite a grafter really.
3. What is your favourite Women’s Fiction book of all time and why?
I love The Girl’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Bank – it’s quirky, funny, moving and beautifully told. I just wish she was more prolific!
4. What is your writing process? Do you plan first of dive in? How many drafts do you do?
I start with a fairly vague outline with little more than the main characters and plot points. I used to charge through a first draft fairly quickly, but have realised now that it’s important (for me, at least) to get the first two chapters in good shape. Then I feel calm and secure enough to continue. When that draft’s done, I’ll do a really careful edit as parts of it will be terribly shoddy and need tons of work. Then another draft (sigh…), followed by a final brush-up and tidy.
5. What was your journey to being a published author?
I was very lucky in that an agent approached me, having seen some of my magazine features (I’ve worked as a freelance writer for fifteen years, and before that I edited teenage magazines). She asked if I was working on any fiction, and I said yes – then quickly wrote some! My first book sold, and two more after that – but I’d say it wasn’t until book four that I found a style that felt right. It’s been a long learning process – I wrote my first novel at night, when my daughter was a baby, and she’s almost 12!
6. What do you think is the biggest myth about being a novelist?
That it’s all glitzy parties and socialising. There’s a huge amount of graft. It’s a job, after all – but one that I wouldn’t change for the world.
7. What advice can you give to our readers who want to write a novel of their own?
I’d start by sketching out your main characters and playing around with storyline ideas. That’s the fun part. It shouldn’t be angsty or stressful. The actual writing part can be hard as it’s such a huge, lengthy project – but initially it’s important to fire yourself up and have fun with it (no one has to see your scribblings at this stage). Then set yourself a conservative daily word count target, and get started. It’s helpful to have a far-away deadline for your first draft. And remember that it is only a draft – it doesn’t have to be perfect.
8. What are you working on at the moment?
I’m working on a new book for Avon, which has a canine theme and is due out in Feb 2013