Writing Live: 28th July

I’m going to try writing in really short bursts, of a song’s length or less, to see if that gives me some motivation to start the new scenes for Robot Dreams.


Start writing: 11.03
Start word count doc: 124
Finish writing: 11.06
End word count doc: 255 words (126)


Start writing: 11.12
Start word count: 255 words
Finish writing: 11.19
End word count doc: 598 words. (474)

Start writing: 15.37
Start word count: 598 words
Finish writing: 15.43
End word count doc: 851 words (727)

(Got distracted last time as had something pop up that I had to think about and then never managed to come back to it… Wow, it’s late and while this word count isn’t exactly impressive I’m happy with one thing – now at least I’ve broken the cycle of the past week or so of just writing 100-200 words a day!
Start writing: 11.36 pm
Start word count: 851 words (727)
Finish writing: 11.43pm
End word count doc: 1,035 (~890)

Good to be unblocked!



Writing Live – 23 July

This has been a really slow week. Probably because I’ve been focused a lot on making sure that revisions of Robot Dreams are going well rather than on Ghosts in the Tower. However, as I can sense I’ve lost a bit of momentum on that project I’m going to change around my focus a little today.

The good news is that while in the number of words I haven’t made that much progress, I can report that I’ve significantly changed the storyline I’ll be working with for Robot Dreams  — which is a pretty big deal considering the impact it’s going to have on the story. What got me thinking about making edits was a combo of both an author blog I read and the realisation that when I thought about writing a query letter I couldn’t quite highlight the external conflict as well as the internal one. That is going to change this draft!

And now, on to my writing live-blog. We’ll be starting with the WriteBox document I’ve been writing in, current word count of that document 130 words. I’ll be living blogging when I’m writing throughout the day, as well as word counts when I start and end each session.


12.25 – Let’s start
Current word count: 0

12.34 – Break
Current word count: 412 words

I’m at a really exciting part but I can tell that it may be lunch time soon and then it would break my concentration if I try and restart at a part I’m not excited to write — that ‘s why there was such a delay for the last few days on me writing. So I’ll return soon.


Start word count – 412

Well, not soon exactly but I’m here. Been out to the shops to get rid of some clothes I bought that were no good and watched a copious amount of Suits! Reason I didn’t come back earlier is that this part I’m writing is something I’ve been really looking forward to so thought I’d do better if I had that motivation behind me.

Finish word count @ 22.57 including drama from an unflushing toilet, chatting to people about the drama of making realistic historical characters and hugging my cat: 1,414 words.

Not much on its own but it’s significant, I’ve now broken the invisible ‘block’ — once I stop writing a certain project for a few days I often struggle to return to it at first. Problem solved.





First to Second

Screenshot 2016-07-19 at 18.14.22

I’ve already made some changes to the bit in green, which is the second draft version of the above bit. But here’s the thing. These tiny changes represent a BIG change in the dynamic of the story, that’s caused lots of little changes like this one. And here’s another thing.

Reading writer’s blogs lately I’ve realised something that’s really important. A novel needs to be high concept or have some kind of hook. My last book, unrevised as it was, had that. This one as I’m reworking it feels a little middle of the road. And I’ve just realised exactly why.

Here’s the thing. I forgot about how essential the JOURNEY of the protagonist is. She has an inner journey in draft one, but the outer journey is rather minimal. The world she is in is exactly the same at the start and end. Hopeless.

So we need something else. Some more TENSION. Because otherwise this novel hasn’t got anything to keep us interested right through until the end.

This has shown me that I need to streamline the opening and cut right to the chase, because there are whole sections between what I have so far and the ending I reach. We need robot battles and fighting and a resistance movement, not just the scarce hinting at danger we’ve got so far. Else I fear that the novel doesn’t have enough to separate it from other ones in this genre.

I’m glad I’ve had this realisation now while I’m at the early part of the draft, where I can expand the book and make it into the seeds of something magical.


Revising Live: 18th July

I thought today that I might live blog revising the first draft of Robot Dreams — I meant to get out today to sit somewhere like a library and work there but it was a bit hot and my joints were a bit stiff the first time I woke up. So. I thought live blogging might encourage me to work through this… it’s the first time I’ve actually taken revising a novel seriously.

The first and only other time I attempted it, on TGWATF, I made a very significant error. I think it’s one that a lot of writers do though when they’re just starting out, so hopefully I’m not alone on that one.

I revised the words and made them all pretty and shiny, forgetting that fixing the plot was probably (definitely) a hell of a lot more important. I increased the novel around 16,000 words in length from draft one but made very few actual changes to it. At all.

While I’m not really into talking about TGWATF now, as it’s a long time ago and kind of represents my naivety, I thought it was important to explain how new I am to the whole actually improving writing thing! Probably since when I write an academic piece of work I have every argument firmly in place before writing a single word — my plans for a 2,000 word essay can be close to 4,000 words! Of course, writing a 100,000 word plan of a  book would be pretty painful…

Getting started: I’ve cut out of the first draft document a section of around 30 pages, which is around 9,000 words, to work with. There’s some changes I need to make to it structurally, as well as improving the writing in this draft. This may or may not be something I can finish today but the new document contains all of the words I’ll need to look at.

Let’s get going!

16.51: Listening to some historical fan videos on Youtube, some that relate quite well to my other project, and going to get started now!

16.53 Already there’s a sentence I’ve written that is a little bit too ‘tell’ but rather than try and fix each individual sentence going to focus on the structure on this run through — words can be fixed as long as the story is in place.

17.00 Going to have to do some research before I write the next draft, this section will need some work on the logistics of how Ava finds out that they’re dismissing the boy as dead while he’s still breathing.

17.06 My kitty’s been ill so going to clean that up now >.<

17.12 Hairball, me thinks. Is so warm outside was tempted to stay out there, but not sure how to open the shed to get the recliners out so here I stay.

17.18 Music back on, let’s keep going.

17.43 Doing a quick dissertation research search.

17.54 I’ve found four videos to takev another look at later, as well as a copy of the report that was conducted into the disaster, so this info will be really helfpul when I come to write up my dissertation!

18.o3 Added a nice bit of tension now with this reworking, got 663 edited words and a total of 8804 words, meaning little difference.

18.53 Just been with Meg and Mum, after their return from parents evening. Going to watch a bit more of TFIOS, which I started watching this afternoon.

19.54 Ended up reading fanfiction etc with tea, now back to the writing soon. Getting organised, this heat is awful.
20.24 Back, wow, that was a distracting few hours.

20.46 Break. Sorting out some things for dissertation trip tomorrow. Shower etc.

22.35 FINALLY back. Will be taking short breaks and doing this bit of editing at a relaxed pace, moving in and out of this and other things.

So. End of day and I’ve got a lot less than I was hoping for, although I’ve managed to rewrite X words. That’s one important thing about this, it isn’t just a superficial revision but I’m rewriting the prose, changing bits of structure and also altering characterisation all at once.

End result of today, starting a lot lot later in the day than I would have liked and with more distractions than I hoped for, was 1,800 words of edited material for Robot Dreams. Add that to the 2,000 words I already had and making good progress — especially considering I only finished the first draft at the start of this month!

E over and out


A Day in the Writing Life (16th July 2016)

Yesterday was one of the rare days when I haven’t been doing much writing, although I managed to edit around 500 words of Robot Dreams. I took a family trip, myself, Mum and Granda, to the site that will be the subject of my dissertation (fingers crossed, anyway). We got some good photos  and I got a feel for the local area, which is especially important when I might be talking to people connected to the events in question or their families. It was an interesting day out, ending with a trip to Chester-le-Street for a lunch of chips on a park bench and then back to Nan’s for a little while before picking Meg up from school.

As anyone who knows me will be aware by now, if I wake up before 8.a.m. it ends badly. In this case, I started feeling slightly dizzy around 5ish and found myself woken up when my Mum came upstairs about half six. The rest of the night was a bit of a washout too. Luckily Meg is almost done at school for the year so there’s no real reason to be up earlier than my body clock allows me after Wednesday!

Today I read The Savage Song – a truly fantastic book that I read literally in one sitting and am completely in love with the characterisation of.

In writing news:

Robot Dreams

Yesterday I managed a couple of hundred words of editing but my current edited total stands at 2234 words, with the novel’s total currently around 1,500 words higher than it was originally.  Minor changes to the first scene meant quite a few alterations in the wording and then there was the job of tidying up the prose. The next few chapters will have some bigger edits as I’m working to change the inciting incident quite a bit!

Ghosts of the Tower

Nothing wrote on this yesterday, but today I managed around 1800 words, bringing us to a quite climatic scene and a total of just under 9,000 words written overall. I started the novel draft on the 9th July, so ten days ago including today, so that’s a pretty good start.

I’d like to move a little quicker on this and Robot Dreams, although this has meant that The Last Days is having to go a little bit to the backburner – it’s much less well formed than these two ideas. Once I’ve got solid drafts of these two I’ll take another look at my plans for TLD. It’d be a shame to trunk it, but some of the prose is a year old and it’s almost painful to see how much my writing has improved in that year.

So we’ll see…

Tomorrow I’ll be walking 500 miles, metaphorically at least, so better get to bed, (Concert to watch tomorrow!)




A Day in the Writing Life (14th July 2016)

Screenshot 2016-04-02 at 14.03.13Today was a day to work on two projects, both writing Ghosts
of the Tower
and starting to edit Robot Dreams. It’s a much easier task than editing The Last Days and is the novel I feel much closer to at the moment so going to work on that one first. Screenshot 2016-04-02 at 14.21.40

For Robot Dreams my progress was rather small in reality but still significant, as I’ve got just over 550 words of new prose. This is the new opening to the novel, reshaping how it starts to reflect the fact that the original start was written when I had no idea of the angle I wanted to go.

It’s a good start and I’m already thinking about how I’d like to make a few changes to it to make the plot more solid and get rid of some of the problems of the middle of the book.

I’ve also gained about 700 words of new prose for Ghosts of the Tower and have a good idea of what is coming next.



Ninth to the Twelfth July


Hey everyone!
On Saturday I attended Durham Miner’s Gala, here’s some photos.

Disclaimer: I’m not saying that the V for Vendetta guy was right (bit extreme views to be honest!) or that JC is the best guy for the job… went along more for the sense of community and to understand mining in this area as it’s something I might be studying for my History dissertation. When I did a family tree, getting way back until the 1830s, i can’t recall  finding any miners in the direct line, unless I’m misremembering things.


IMG_2848 IMG_2875 IMG_2932 IMG_2909 IMG_2883


Sunday and Monday I was in the house and today I went to the cinema with my Granda to see Independence Day: Resurgence. What a touch of nostalgia that was! May or may not post a full blog on that topic as it was such a weird thing to experience, seeing one of my favourite movies almost remade in full (a LOT of similarities) twenty years later.

Writing is going well, with fully marked up Section One of The Last Days, a print-out of draft one of Robot Dreams arriving via Royal Mail today and adding around 1,600 words to Ghosts of the Tower Today.

Total word count on that project is just over 5,000, which I’m super happy about. It’s always the first couple of thousand words where I falter. If I make it over the 10,000 words line then the project will usually make it to completion, or close to it. Otherwise, I easily discard or forget what I’ve written about so far. What can I say. A few days worth of writing alone doesn’t usually imprint itself on my heart.

Bit of an earlyish night tonight — going to go out tomorrow and may combine a trip to my arts group with some dissertation newspaper research. We’ll see.




A Day in the Life – 8th July

Today: A family trip to the beach, to the charity shops, chip shops and ice cream parlours of South Shields before picking Meg up from school. The earliness of the day meant that it’s only eleven but the night already feels so long. We ate in the car on the seafront, and sunshine turned to rain as we watched a group of children flee from the weather, leaving behind their tent for a teacher to recover. Mint-choc chip ice cream. A significant collection of books amassed from the day, one (Inside the O’Briens) already devoured. Plans for next week made.

In terms of old projects, I’ve marked up a few more pages of The Last Days, so I now have full revision notes on the first twenty five pages and just need to work those into solutions to the problems and basically completely rewrite that section. I think there’s about five lines of dialogue and exposition that are going to survive, with characters added, subplots deleted and detail added.

Writing wise, I’m trying to be coy with the amount of detail I share about this story before it’s done, but suffice to say it is slightly different from anything I’ve wrote before. Screenshot 2016-04-02 at 14.03.13

Subject matter wise, I’ve just had to run mid-sentence into Meg’s room to ask her a question about Latin, hieroglyphs, asps and history’s impressions of the classical world. No more clues, even though this was just the subject of one line rather than the novel itself. It’s funny, when you have something that is so bizarre and off-topic it’s hard to research properly, you have to try and pull together an understanding of it from guesswork and patched together facts. I think we went the right way on this one, as even Shakespeare has something to say about the topic.

Anyhow, writing is coming along well. As at the beginning of most projects, it’s quite slow and tentative work to start with as I get used to the characters and warmed up to the idea of starting a new project.

Today’s word count: 741 words

I’d love to carry on but it’s just after midnight and I’ve to be up early if I’m going to make it to the Miner’s Gala, so going to watch a few videos for inspiration and then head to bed.



A Day in the Life – 7th July

Today I watched Orange is the New Black, visited the amazing new studio space of an arts group I’m tangentially involved with (i.e when uni disappears into the ether and I have time to join in with things!) and I’ve also started writing my next project.

Look, here’s the evidence! The Robot Dreams cover has been replaced in this post… big step, guys.

Screenshot 2016-04-02 at 14.03.13

This is one that I’ve been excited to work on ever since I got the idea for it way back in February I think and even more so now that Meg’s given me an incredible idea for a twist in it over the last few days. I’ve got a vague plan sorted, that I concocted on the 26th with Meg’s help and am starting to think about the characters and move away from the headspace Robot Dreams has occupied for the last few weeks.

I’m super tired and have to be up early as I’m going to South Shields with family, dropping Meg off at school on the way, but here’s the very first line of this new story. This is only first draft of course and I already see that the sentence structure needs to be developed but I’ve got some interesting ideas to get into this story.

Screenshot 2016-07-07 at 22.06.45

It’s a tricky one, starting a new project after falling in love with the old one, and I always find that the first 20,000 words or so are a danger zone where my interest can quickly fall away if I’m not committed to exploring the world I’m creating and getting words on paper.

So I’ll be spending some time over the coming weeks writing this one – super excited to keep sharing my progress on it with you!

Much love,



First Draft Completed!

blog2 Hi everyone!

I’ve been away from university for almost a fortnight now, which feels quite bizarre if I’m honest with you. I still have about three months left though, so it’s not as if I’m rushing back to study any time soon.

Just a quick update to share some news with you… This is a blog sharing writing progress and my most recent milestone, reached today, is that I’ve finished the first draft of Robot Dreams. 

This novel has come together quite quickly and, though I know I’ve got a lot of revisions to go especially plot and characterisation wise, it’s great to see it starting to shape up. I only started it in April, after coming up with the idea on a family holiday during which my thoughts were largely consumed by revising for uni exams. Quite a quick first draft all things considered, and better than the seven haphazard months I spent on The Last Days to produce something that’s much much less closer to completion.

It’s a rough draft, with lots of telling and exposition that needs to be shaped, as well as a character whose journey ends slightly differently to I imagined it was going to at the start of the novel.

The final word count of the first draft is just over 67,500 words, which means I’ve added around the final 4,000 words this evening, with a few twists added into the last few hundred words that really need to be substantiated earlier on in the story to make sense.

But this is the first project that I’ve got a concrete draft of since I was seventeen — the The Last Days draft is a little more rough around the edges, from the way that I was unable to dedicate the time to write it all at once. Written over a period of many months, it’s a very different creature to this story. All I can say is, very strange writing the final words after the characters have been part of my routine for the last few months and especially for the last week or so.

Since around Sunday I’ve thought that I would be writing the final words that evening, but that hasn’t happened, with the addition of many great things at the end of the first drafting stage.

What’s next? Well, first up, I’m going to get a wirebound copy of the first draft from a document printing company to use to help me with the second draft so there’s no loose papers to worry about.

Then, for a few days at least, it’s on to other things. I have a third project I’m very excited to start, some short writing things to work on in the short term and am also returning to an arts group I love for a visit tomorrow hopefully.

Five to twelve. Night all.