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Welcome to Paul's Podcast Diary Season 5, Episode 10 for Saturday 18th March 2023.

Show notes for this week's episode …

1) Pro Writing Aid – Crimer Writer’s week 24-27 April:

2)  The Writer’s Well podcast update episode:

Episode Download link (70 MB):

Show Notes:

3) The No. 1 habit that sets successful people apart from everyone else, says psychologist: It's a ‘nonnegotiable' …

4) Claire Cronshaw interview –—Interview-with-Claire-Cronshaw–Fantasy–Romance–Womens-fiction-Editor–FAQ-Part-1—Practicing-Life-Podcast-with-Ashley-Pitzer-e1tdca7/a-a95tg33

On the Practicing Life podcast with Ashley Pitzer

5) Legal issues for writers: How to navigate the writing world safely:

6) Turning Your Author Website Into A Direct Sales Bookstore 

7) I Read 200 Self-improvement Books to Learn These 5 Lessons:

8) Becca Syme's Author Stuck Cycle:

How I plot my books …

[Note: This is my personal process, not writing advice!]

  • I keep a file in Trello called ‘Idea Machine’ a concept I learned from Altucher. I jot down any crazy idea I have here and refer back to it if only to get my brain buzzing creatively
  • I strongly prefer stories which have a theme that makes me excited – many of these I take from my career in journalism … for instance, MB2 is about missing people, MB3 is about child murderers, So many Lies is about the complexities of family relationships, Two Years Later is about workplaces, Don’t Tell Meg is about the complexity of marriage and so on. My current trilogy is about unmarried mothers in the 60s & 70s and how badly they were treated. With MB1 it was the PLACE I wanted to write about – the old holiday camp I’d worked at as a student when my wife & I wanted to stay together in the summer holidays.
  • I go with a story that excites me … it needs that so I don’t lose interest in it, I have to have an EMOTIONAL commitment to it.
  • Sometimes scenes will come to me – either by observing real life or things that have happened in the past – and I’ll want to include them somewhere
  • I do the same with opening scenes … i get ideas for strong scenes and jot them down. I’ve got a great idea for a Hull book but need to figure out how I cope with location issues first. Family at The Deep when a severed head floats down. Kids ask parents what it is.
  • I like to use location as an inspiration and a character in my books
  • Once I’ve got an over-arching concept, I like to give it a working title if I can, a strapline and nowadays I write a bad book blurb – I want to tie down the core emotion and direction of the story.
  • I then start with the opening scene – which has to be strong – and chapter by chapter I sketch out the story with a single line. If you track what happens in a story, it’s not that much – you develop it with description and dialogue
  • I want a strong end with emotional resonance – sometimes this takes some working out
  • I then develop each one-lien outline with 2-5 additional sentences.
  • For each chapter, because of my genre, I then define where the tension or action comes in each chapter
  • I revise, add and refine as I go along – the day before I write I take a look at my notes and tweak them or add to them before I actually do the writing
  • I’m not quite sure where the words come from when I write … I get in the zone and I think, perhaps, the scene is so defined in terms of what I want, it just flows
  • I frequently look at my words and think ‘how the hell did I just write that?’
  • I can further tweak and refine in editing
  • I can’t plan a book in one sitting – I prefer a couple of weeks
  • Sometimes I feel like my brain’s empty of ideas … I take a break when that’s the case
  • Inspiration and ideas are everywhere – learn to recognise them and harvest them

    2 replies to "Paul’s Podcast Diary Season 5, Episode 10 for Saturday 18th March 2023"

    • Bill Cokas

      Bravo, Paul, and many thanks! While I understand that this is your personal process, it helps nonetheless. Even as I’m in the midst of my fifth full-length novel, I have this feeling that I should be trying it another way. What way that is remains to be seen, but in keeping with the Third Key to Success, “Modeling shows what leads to success,” your model is one I’ve been attached to for years, so here’s hoping some of it rubs off.

      • Paul Teague

        Pleased it was useful, Bill – it’s a hard thing to quantify when you try and tie it down like that.

        Best wishes, Paul

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