How do you write?


Writing is a strange business. Every writer comes at it from a different angle and every writer finds other people’s method unfathomable. Some like to plan and plan and plan and then write the book in one long sweep. Other use an approach known as “pantsing” – writing by the seat of the pants, with no planning at all – and the novel unfolds as it will. I don’t do either of these – and find both of those difficult to understand.
My approach is best described as “bitty.”
I write in a non-linear way – writing segments as they inspire me, regardless of which book they belong to. In fact, for The Bremmand Chronicles I probably started with Book 7. I say probably because it was a long time ago and I can’t really remember which piece came first – it’s just that, when I look at the pieces I have already written for that, the style is pretty rough which suggests it was early. The overall plot for Bremmand Chronicles came after the first of the writing too. Initially my writing was episodic and only as I started to take the idea of being an author seriously did I understand the need to join it all together. That was when the full story arc was mapped out and the episodes connected.

If you are writing a serial, as I am, there are definitely advantages to knowing the whole plot. I have story maps for all of my books and when I am stuck on one book I often write a chunk of the next book. It beats staring at the wall!

When I create books, human interactions and exchanges often come first. I am often rehearsing conversation between characters in my head while I’m doing other things (if you ever catch me talking to myself, it is far more likely to be Dale talking to Allin!!). The description and narrative come later – and if I am going to struggle with my writing, it will be here. I’m all about the people!

I don’t write “head down,” either. I’m simply incapable of writing for days at a time without interruption – far too short an attention span! On a day when I’m writing, the longest session will be two hours. Then I need to stop, do something different and allow new ideas to float through the subconscious. I also do little bits whenever I can – thank god for mobile technology! I can always make notes – and I write on trains and planes and in hotel rooms an awful lot.

Even though I dot about with writing, there does cone a time when the next book in the series takes precedence. At that point, I revisit the plot and sections already written and make adaptations. I’m at this stage with Age of Oppression, which is the 4th book of the series. I’d already written half of the book because I had such a hard time with Balance of Betrayal. In fact, at one point, I was going to publish Age of Oppression first (mainly out of desperation at the lack of progress with Balance of Betrayal!). Now, although what I’ve written is okay, I’ve identified a plot gap. Because Balance of Betrayal contains significant elements of the political situation, to now ignore that would be a mistake. So now I’m starting to develop a sub-plot to weave in between the main story.

It is always discouraging when you find your work is “could do better” but once the work is done, I’m always pleased that I did it. After all, I’m always aiming for a better book.

Cate Caruth is the author of the Bremmand Chronicles. To buy her books or learn more about them, go to her Website
You can follow Cate on Twitter at

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