Elaine and Francesca consider those things that always crop up automatically in their writing. And a few things they’re not so good at including when they should.
Elaine: When Francesca asked me what I automatically include in my short stories and novels, I have to say my mind went totally blank.
So the analysing of my writing started. I can tell you I don’t automatically add in the five senses. I am getting better at adding them, but it doesn’t happen automatically. Neither does adding in the weather or description. I love being near water so you would be forgiven if you thought that would be what I automatically included, but alas, that isn’t so. My settings are always urban, mainly cities with not a river or coastline in sight.
The more I think about this, the more I’m beginning to wonder why I write, or if I am actually a good writer. Thankfully, I have had over a dozen short stories published in women’s magazines to confirm I’m not too bad.
Through all this analysis, what has shocked me is that I tend to write about suppressed women striving for control of their destiny. They may have low self esteem or be running away from a situation, but they will always be thrown back into it.
My novel, Forgotten Love, is a modern romance about a married woman, a parent who wants to return to education to achieve some qualifications, but her family doesn’t take her seriously.
In the Victorian saga I am currently writing, my main character, Emily, is striving to escape an arranged marriage; she wants to marry for love, which is against the family wishes.
Both of these stories are about family relationships, very different stories dealing with various aspects love.
So what do I automatically include in my writing? Love and romance.
Francesca: I posed the question, What do you include in your novel without thinking? when Elaine and I were pondering a subject for our joint blog this week. I’ve come at it from a slightly different angle and thought of specific repetitive plot and setting points.
For a start, I often have a fight in my novels (as well as with them!). Three out of the five include ‘fisticuffs’. Even the other two have heated arguments. Better on paper than in reality, I suppose. The first three novels also include hospital scenes (two of them as a result of the aforementioned fights). Since realising this, I’ve made sure the two recent novels comprise neither violence nor hospitals. Believe it or not, they do all contain love and romance too!
The main female characters in the first three novels possess quirky/off the wall/irritating best friends who they fall out with somewhere along the way. It’s perhaps not a coincidence that I disowned my ‘oldest bestest friend’ not long before I wrote the first novel, due to some very unpleasant and frankly unfriendly behaviour from her. The heroines in novels four and five seem to have got over it!
Then there are the ubiquitous kitchen scenes that appear in almost all my novels – and a good few of my short stories too. I know from writing friends that I’m not the only person with this problem. Along with these scenes go the inevitable and plentiful cups of tea and coffee. A recent critique of one of my books suggested I might want to get out of the kitchen a bit and re-set some of the scenes elsewhere. To that end I’ve made a list of all the settings in the book, along with other possible ones. Hopefully that will give me ideas when I do the re-write.
I’ve done the same with the WIP, because, unlike Elaine, I do set all my novels near water. I don’t want to fall into a similar ‘overused setting’ trap as I’m already aware that the beach is featuring a little too often in the current novel, and possibly the last one too.
Okay, the scene where I sit in my study and write this blog post is done. Time to head to the kitchen for a cup of tea, methinks…
What always crops up in your novels or short stories?