Friday, November 14, 2014

Christina Hollis: Creative Writing To Order—NaNoWriMo 2014

I love writing romance (you can find some of my titles here) but I also enjoy reading Ian Rankin's crime fiction and the Montalbano stories by Andrea Camilleri. For quite a while, I've had a couple of characters in mind whose backgrounds are a bit too close to my own to make them a good fit for a romance.

I've never had time to give these characters the space they need to develop. Then along came a Romantic Novelists' Association Workshop, organised by Ann Ankers of the Marcher Chapter. There was a call for samples of work-in-progress, but as I'd just turned in a book and hadn't  started writing my next romance, I didn't have anything to hand. With the requirement of only a few pages, this workshop felt like the ideal place to try out something new, so I produced the first few pages of a—what? Crime, or thriller? The sample was so short I wasn't sure how the story would develop, but everyone at the workshop loved the sample opening. That made the project worth pursuing. There's nothing like the response of readers to improve a writer's work, so I was happy to take their suggestions for improvement on board, and start thinking about a plot to ensnare my two unusual suspects.

My Next Release, from Wild Rose Press
I like to work within a framework of targets and deadlines, and it just so happened NaNoWriMo 2014 was about to kick off. I signed up. It gave me the chance—or is it the excuse? ;) —to put everything else aside, and concentrate on producing a rough first draft of this new work in progress over the thirty days of November.

We're just about half-way through November now, and I'm currently forty-seven percent of the way toward the fifty-thousand word target set down by the NaNoWriMo organisers. It's been hard work, but definitely worthwhile. Plotting my word-count progress in public on the site is pretty scary, but it also acts as a great spur. The sense of achievement is amazing!

The best thing of all is, whether or not I qualify at the end as a NaNoWriMo winner, I'll have the basic structure of my story in place. I can build on that. It's so much easier to edit, rework and rewrite text than it is to start from cold, with the equivalent of a blank sheet of paper.

Writing is all about turning castles in the air into a real story world. Have you ever taken part in NaNoWriMo? How did you get on? You can follow the progress of my current writing project by hitting the "Like" button on my new Facebook Author page, here.

Christina Hollis writes both contemporary and historical fiction–when she isn't cooking, gardening or beekeeping. Her books have been translated into over a dozen different languages, and she’s sold nearly three million books worldwide. You can catch up with her at,on Twitter and Facebook, and see a full list of her published books at Her next release, His Majesty's Secret Passion, will be released in early 2015


Elanor said...

Hi Christina :) I've joined NaNoWriMo this year for the first time, but 14 days in and my word count's only at 1300... the target of 1667 words a day doesn't sound too bad on October 31st, but once the pressure's on then it starts to seem insurmountable. But then again, I'm not a professional author! Best of luck for the rest of the month!

Christina Hollis said...

Thanks for commenting, Elanor. Don't feel bad, that's a much bigger word-count than 99% of other people, who think they'd like to write but never actually manage to start. Have you been reading the helpful messages on the NaNoWriMo site? There was a good one about playing around by dropping your hero into a random situate, to see how they react. It's a good, fun way to get to know your characters.