Monday 26 January 2015

The Book Cycle with Rachel McIntyre

This is a new author feature on Serendipity Reviews. As an writer myself I am fascinated by the way authors write.  Over the last few years, I realised that every writer has a different way of writing their books. Some start with an idea and fly with the seat of their plants, while others meticulously plan. In this series we will focus on the book cycle – how the first idea becomes a fully published book. First willing victim for this feature is Rachel McIntyre, whose YA book, Me and Mr J is published by Egmont in February. So I will pass you over to Rachel, to tell you how she goes from idea to book.
All my writing starts with a “what if…?” moment. I can be reading an article, watching the news, listening to someone relate an anecdote and something triggers my brain. In my first novel, “Me and Mr J”, two of these arrived simultaneously: a teenager telling me some old gossip and a story that dominated the headlines for weeks and that became the catalyst for the book. What if…. a vulnerable girl fell in love with her teacher?
For me, the next stage is working out the destination; I need to know where I am heading right from the first word. Characters and episodes can come and go, but the beginning and the end are the fixed points I use to map the story and I write a one sentence blurb at this point that sums it up. I might tweak aspects of the ending as I go along,  but the basic premise doesn’t change. 
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Next stop: Paperchase. I have a serious notebook addiction and also HUGE handwriting, so I go through a lot. I have one by the side of my bed, one in my handbag, one in my car…I keep them everywhere and I write snatches of strangers’ conversations (yes, that is me eavesdropping on the train), unusual words and names; budding ideas; interesting turns of phrase. Anything at all that catches my eyes or my ears as well as my imagination and I know if I don’t use it in my wip, then I can save it for later. I also have a master notepad for each book where I brainstorm the episodes and then try to sequence them, so they building block in to a developed narrative. And  I always have the ending in mind so as I’m writing, I can signpost the reader to the eventual outcome.
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Nailing the protagonist’s voice takes time, but as it’s the most distinctive feature of my work, I need to focus on getting it bang on. I try out characteristic words and phrases, slang she might use, different registers etc. until I think I’ve created an authentic idiolect. Once that’s sorted, I can get under her skin and really see events from her perspective. And that’s when the whole thing comes together: character, plot and style.
I’m writing my third novel now and, if I had one wish, it would be to get the whole thing down in one concentrated burst. But no. I can’t resist furtively editing as I write. So, I tend to send individual episodes to my Kindle, read back and then (using my “revisions” notebook) cut or redraft. It’s the equivalent of moving the Sahara Desert one grain of sand at a time and I really wish I worked differently as it’s so incredibly time consuming. I have one “work in progress” file on my computer and I refine and polish it, but any sections I excise, I store in a separate “book bits” file in case they’re useful in the future. 
By the time I submit the polished draft, there have been many, many versions. It’s like an excavation, I guess. Inside all the unnecessary words, clunky dialogue, red herring dead ends and ideas that don’t quite work, I think the “right” draft is waiting for me to dig it out and, like all writers, I can’t stop until I reach it. 
Thanks Rachel for letting us into your book cycle journey.
Me and Mr J
Me & Mr J by Rachel McIntyre – published by Egmont in February 2015
Book Summary
Fifteen-year-old Lara finds her soul mate. There’s just one problem – he’s her teacher.
Lara's life has changed radically since her father lost his job. As the eldest, Lara tries to keep upbeat, and the one outlet for all her problems is her diary where she can be open about how dire everything is at home, and worse, the fact that she’s being horrifically bullied at school.
And then a shining light comes out of the darkness – the new young and MALE teacher, Mr Jagger. The one person who takes Lara seriously and notices her potential. The one person who is kind to her. The one person who she falls madly and hopelessly in love with. The one person who cannot reciprocate her feelings … can he?
To find out more about Rachel McIntyre:

1 comment:

  1. Hi Viv,
    Thanks so much for featuring me in your blog. I can't wait to read the posts from other writers. It is fascinating to learn how people work and I'm sure I'll pick up loads of new ideas!
    Rachel McIntyre


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