First Drafts With… Jenny Blackhurst

Hi everyone, I’m delighted this morning to welcome crime writer Jenny Blackhurst to my blog. Jenny is the author of five psychological thrillers, all of which I have read in e-book and LOVED!! I was delighted when she agreed to feature in the First Drafts series.

Read on for how she constructs her ideas and her writing space, which I am now jealous of. Over to you, Jenny…

1) When you begin the next book, how do you go about it?

When I decide an idea is big enough for a book, I grab a notebook (at the moment I have a thing for A4 Pukka Pads) and I start by writing everything I think I know about the idea. From there I’ll brainstorm for a while, for example if my initial idea is ‘what if the sky suddenly started turning green?’ I’d start thinking about people this might affect, feeling for who my POV character would be. So, through the eyes of a child this would be told very differently than through the eyes of a scientist, or a manager of a chemical plant who thinks they are responsible. If any character’s shine through I’ll write a sketch of their wants, needs etc. I’ll explore the idea until I’m sure it has legs and I’m sure it’s giving me ‘the feeling’, then I’ll start the official planning, outlines, character sketches, sometimes I’ll write whatever scenes are in my head – just get it all out really.

2) Do you follow the same process you did for the book before?

It generally happens to be the same, step one – write vague notes and brainstorming, step two – flesh out ideas and ask a lot of ‘what if’s?’ and ‘whys’, step three – think about character motivations, wants, needs, and what their journey should look like. I thought my process had evolved a bit but I found a folder from years ago full of notes for a book and they looked much the same, just instead of things like ‘what is her external motivation??’ I’ve written ‘what the bloody hell does she want??’

3) What is your research process, if you have one?

I don’t have an official one but the rule I try to follow is ‘before or after – not during’. Which is to say I can research during the planning stage, or the edit stage but I don’t break off mid-sentence to research something while I’m first drafting. Some subjects I write about are so interesting that I’m continually researching them during the first draft, just not during my actual writing time.

4) How quickly after thinking or planning do you sit down to write?

Usually straight away, unless I’m in the middle of another project. After the planning I’m usually so keen to get on with it I can’t wait! 

5) How does the draft form on the screen?

I used to write all the best bits first then stitch them together, my last couple of books have been more linear.

6) Where do you write the majority of the draft?

I write wherever I can but last year we had a lovely office put in the back garden, so I write the majority of my books in there, in peace!

Thank you for visiting my blog Jenny. Finding out about your first draft process has been brilliantgood luck with your next novel!! 🙂

Bio: Jenny lives in Shropshire where she grew up dreaming that one day she would get paid for making up stories. She is an avid reader and can mostly be found with her head in a book or hunting Pokemon with her son, otherwise you can get her on Twitter @JennyBlackhurst or Facebook. Her favourite film is Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, but if her children ask it’s definitely Moana.

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