Five pieces of writing advice from Erica Lainé...

This is the third and final blog from Erica Lainé regards her experience of writing the Isabella of Angouleme series.  You can read her two previous blogs here and here

Erica shares how Book 3 in the series came about:   

Book 3 was not Book 3 until the end of 2017. I had been working on Book 2, but by mid-2017 what I had written was so long that the publisher and friends suggested I split it in two. At first I felt this was impossible but as I read and re-read my raw manuscripts, and with the help of a friend, I realised that it could lend itself quite happily to being made into two books.  Both my friend and I  arrived at the same break point quite separately, confirming our view that it could be written as two books.

Suddenly, as a result of my decision to split Book 2, what I was writing became something different because I had to write some new chapters to finish Book 2 and a new opening for Book 3. Book 2 needed to be re-written and edited several times over. Book 3 is finished but needs rewrites, edits and most importantly I need to read it aloud and read it on paper rather than on-screen. Reading on the screen is not the same at all.

In a way I am more anxious about Book 3 than either 1 or 2 as this is the end of a seven year journey and I wonder will I be able to give Isabella the story she deserves? Have I kept the tension and pace going? Will I be able to carry everything I learnt from Book 2 into the final? One reader has referred to the books as Isabella’s real-lift biography and that is really pleasing, because in truth it is still historical fiction!  I am only hoping I have done her justice.

Do you have advice for other writers, Erica?

  • If you want to write a book rather than short stories, then read as much as you can to get into the minds and the styles of other writers, not to imitate but to learn.
  • Keep notebooks, write down ideas, fragments, descriptions, snatches of overheard dialogue, phrases you see all about you, words that grab your attention.
  • Plot in advance and write a synopsis if that provides you with peace of mind but be prepared to deviate, to allow yourself to drift away. I liken this to a scaffold that has to be built before the building can begin, but it all has to be dismantled at the end.
  • You need both a rag bag and a master plan.
  • And if you are starting from scratch, or if you haven’t written creative fiction in a long time, go on a writing course, enjoy the activities, the challenges and the tickling of the mind’s eye!  It’s how it all started for me.

To read more about Erica and the Isabella of Angouleme series visit Erica’s website.