Monday Methods : R.B Harkess

My writing day starts absurdly early, thanks to my partner who I have to taxi down to the train station at the ungodly hour of six in the morning. Having said that, it does mean I am sitting at the

kitchen table, ready to start, by about 6:30. Things tend to go something like this.

Open Mac, log on

Realise I forgot to make tea

Put kettle on

Log back on to Mac

Open Scrivener

Kettle boils, make tea.

Log back on to Mac, open the right scene.

Dry cat off, because it raining and he’s just come in soaking wet and jumped up onto my lap.

Log back onto Mac, compose thoughts, ready fingers above keyboard

Try to stop the cat, who is now hungry, from stomping all over the keyboard

Feed Cat

Log on to Mac — make note to extend the screensaver time-out

Type twenty words

Dry the other cat, who has just come in soaking wet…

not the author's cat
not the author’s cat

And so it goes on for about an hour. Eventually they get bored with harassing me and settle down, and I can finally get around to some real writing.

At the moment, I’m working on the third and final book of the Warrior Stone trilogy (as yet unnamed). I used to say I was more ‘pantser’ than ‘plotter’, but these days I’m not so sure. I start off needing to know all the backstories, what the motivations are, and some fairly detailed notes on any new characters. All of this is done pen on paper, preferably with my special ‘writiing pen’ that my partner gave me about 20 years ago. From that, I go to what I call ‘scenes’; two or three lines, like ‘Somebody tried to kill Claire by….’ or ‘Claire is at the hospital with her parents. Stuart comes in and they…’ (You didn’t actually expect I was going to tell you what happened, did you?)

From there, its time to transcribe everything into Scrivener, and then I start filling in the blanks. In this phase, first draft, I’m doing the equivalent of scribbling in pencil so fast I can hardly make out what I’ve written. This is one of the most wonderful parts of the whole writing process to me. It’s like giving birth to the story; quick and rushed and exciting and at then end of it I know if I’ve got something I can work with.

There are some that say being a plotter takes away the fun of exploring the story as you write it. All I know is that since I started plotting, I’ve finished every novel that made it as far as a list of scenes, and that I have a drawer full of 20-30,000 word false starts I didn’t plan first.

Happy writing