My writing process
For this blog post I asked some of my fans to come up with questions, and was intrigued to see how many of them related to my writing process, from research and planning to the final draft. It’s not something I’d normally think to blog about as I’d assumed it would only be of interest to other writers, but clearly there are those of you out there just dying to know the ins and outs of our glamorous job… if eating biscuits dunked in tea over your keyboard while still in your pyjamas can be called glamour…
Here then, are some of the burning questions you set me.
Sam: How much research do you do?
The short answer is “probably not enough”.
The long answer is that “it depends”. I do lots of research when I need to write about something I know little about. For instance, I did a huge amount of reading on the realities of BDSM before writing Screwing the System as it wasn’t something I had any real life experience of at the time. And what I read fascinated me and opened my mind in all sorts of ways. In the same way, when researching for Einstein’s Peep Show I wanted to treat the realities of working as a cam model in the same way. While I like to present a warts and all kind of reality in my fiction, I’m always keen to show respect towards the people involved. I believe it’s a writer’s job to treat people from all walks of life with empathy and respect.
Sam: Do you enjoy doing research?
I do generally enjoy research as I tend to stick to things I’m interested in already. That’s probably why I have a fair few characters who are involved in arts and crafts in some way. Or if something new intrigues me, I decide to write a story about it to justify me spending my minimal free time on some new obsession. I think for the next little while I’ll have to stick to stories that don’t require too much research, though, as I just don’t have the time.
It’s a shame, as I still harbour a perverse desire to write a Regency romance…
Sam: Are you obsessive and need to have every detail correct (even if it’s not related to the story)?
Not really. I mean, I want what goes into the book to be correct and will spend an annoying amount of time Googling random things while in edits, but I don’t let it slow me down when I’m writing. I tend to end up with a first draft manuscript that’s full of rows of question marks or comments in square brackets where I’ve realised I need to look something up.
Glenn: Do you outline the story before and fill in the different bits?
Pretty much. I’ve been getting better at using Scrivener’s (writing software) cards to fill in the key scenes, but I often find I need to add extra ones once I get going. Einstein’s Peep Show needed an extra couple of scenes adding during edits, as both I and my editor agreed that the story would be stronger if you could see something of Nathan and Rory’s lives outside of the bedroom. The warehouse and cafeteria scenes were the result.
Johnny: Do you actually write out the backstory on a character or is that something you hold in memory…or do you “just know” the character so well that you don’t bother with a point-by-point, full backstory?
I always jot down key points in the backstory before and as I start writing. I keep a very scruffy notebook in the bag with my writing laptop, and it’s covered in scribbled down notes about the characters—including significant details about their appearance. I’ve stuck to that one ever since discovering in the very last proofread of The Hot Floor that Evan’s eyes had mysteriously changed from hazel to blue! I don’t consider my backstory set in stone, though, and will change details as I see fit if it makes a stronger story. For instance, in the first draft of Scrap Grant had been an unrepentant cheater for years. After reading through the feedback from my beta readers, however, I decided that this wasn’t the way to go. And you know what, I much preferred the Grant who made it through to the final draft! It also made his former relationship with Mas far more significant when you realised it was his first with a man, and so I felt it had the effect of strengthening rather than weakening the story.
Glenn: Do you already know the ending when you start?
In a sense, the ending is the easiest bit in a romance since you know it’s all about the two characters getting together and cementing their love in some significant way. I usually have a pretty good idea of what I want out of the last scene, but increasingly I find myself adding an epilogue. I know some literary critics and writing gurus don’t like them, but I think many of my earlier books would have benefited from them. They tended to end too abruptly, and my readers seem to like to know that the two (or three!) characters remain happy in the future. A proper HEA rather than simply a HFN (happy for now).
I really like the way the last scene played out in Einstein’s Peep Show. It is an epilogue, but it tied together some important loose ends and really earns its place in the book.
Readers, do you enjoy a Happy Ever After epilogue, or do you prefer to be left guessing?
Nerdy by day, naughty by night!
Nathan Wright has a secret life. During the day he’s a dedicated student, working hard for his maths degree. But times are tough, and in order to make ends meet by night he becomes “Einstein”, wooing punters with his online solo sex show. Still wounded by his last dysfunctional relationship, Nathan’s happy being single. But when his highest tipping client demands it, Einstein has to overcome his social awkwardness to rope in some extra help.
Party boy Rory Jones has never given his geeky neighbour a second glance, but he’s not one to turn down the offer of a free blow job, even when Nathan tells him it’s going online. Once on camera, Rory discovers his exhibitionist streak and the two of them are so hot together, the one-off becomes a regular gig.
But being neighbours with benefits isn’t without its challenges. Nathan’s client keeps wanting more, and he finds himself pushed into a role he’s not prepared for. Meanwhile Rory’s growing affection leaves him worried his ultra-rational lover won’t ever be able to share his emotions. If he and Nathan can’t find something more than great sex in common, they’ll be left with the square root of absolute zero.
English through and through, Josephine Myles is addicted to tea and busy cultivating a reputation for eccentricity. She writes gay erotica and romance, but finds the erotica keeps cuddling up to the romance, and the romance keeps corrupting the erotica. Jo blames her rebellious muse but he never listens to her anyway, no matter how much she threatens him with a big stick. She’s beginning to suspect he enjoys it.
Jo publishes regularly with Samhain, and now has over ten novels and novellas under her belt. Her novel Stuff won the 2014 Rainbow Award for Best Bisexual Romance, and her novella Merry Gentlemen won the 2014 Rainbow Award for Best Gay Romantic Comedy. She has also been known to edit anthologies and self-publish on occasion, although she prefers to leave the “boring bits” of the ebook creation process to someone else. She loves to be busy, and is currently having fun trying to work out how she is going to fit in her love of writing, dressmaking and attending cabaret shows in fabulous clothing around the demands of a preteen with special needs and an energetic toddler.
Two copies from Jo’s backlist. Just leave a comment below. Don’t forget to include your email address.
You need to be 18 years or older to paticipate in this giveaway. Void where prohibited. Etc.
This giveaway will end on March 10th, 2016 at 11:59 PM CST. Good Luck!
I would like to give a big Thank You to Josephine for taking the time to stop by RGR and answer a few questions.