Where do you start when you begin writing a new novel? (Guest Post by Claudia Carroll)

I am very excited to be kicking off the blog tour for Claudia Carroll’s newest release, Meet Me in Manhattan, today. The Ebook is available from today with the paperback to follow on 3rd December. 

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 Where do you start when you begin writing a new novel?

Before starting any new book, I’d write out a pitch for it first, just a page or so, nice and short. Then I send it to my agent and editor and see what they think. If I get the thumbs up from them, one of my little tips is to write it out as a short story first, nothing that’ll ever see the light of day, it’s just an exercise for me really, to see if the story idea has legs. Sometimes, I’ll start the short story and the fizz will run out of it, in which case I know that it’s back to the drawing board for me. But if the short story leaves me feeling there’s so much more I want to write, but don’t have room for, then I know I’m onto something.

When it comes to plot, I’m a planner and I think every author is, really. I always think that starting off a novel without a plan is like getting into a car without knowing where you’re going…you’ll just end up driving round in circles.

Once my editor, agent and I have agreed on a pitch, then I do a skeleton outline of any new story before I’d even sit down to write a line. It makes life so much easier later on, on the days when I find I’m a bit stuck. It takes me quite a long time to get to really know my characters, so I’d begin by writing out a rough biography for everyone of them, to try to make them as three dimensional as possible, it helps me hugely.

A reader will quickly lose interest if they just don’t like the hero or heroine. You really have to try to layer them carefully so that they really jump off the page. Remember at the start of a new book, you’re asking a reader to go on a 400 page journey with your characters, and particularly your leading lady, so it’s vital to get character right early on.

Woody Allen once said, ‘there’s nothing to writing, all you have to do is sit down at a computer and open a vein.’ And believe me we all have plenty of days where I know just what he meant!

But equally you get great days, where the words are just flying and where without even noticing it, it’s five hours after you first sat down and you completely forgot to even eat. Writing is without doubt, the single best job in the whole entire world and I’m so lucky and privileged to be doing it.  Even on the days when nothing’s coming and I’m half ready to fling my computer up against a wall, I still wouldn’t change it for anything.




  1. June 25, 2016 / 10:31 pm

    I always love reading about how a writer goes about creating their stories.
    Plotting is the hardest part.

    • Heidi
      June 26, 2016 / 5:35 pm

      I love it too. Reading about the journey is just as exciting as reading the book.

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