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Confessions of a Messy Writer by Nicole Locke & #Giveaway

We invited M&B Historical Romance author Nicole Locke and she is sharing with us about her writing techniques. She also has news of giveaways of signed copies of her book! 

Nicole first discovered romance novels hidden in her grandmother's closet. Convinced hidden books must be better, Nicole greedily read them. It was only natural she should start writing them (but now not so secretly). If she isn't working on the next book in the Lovers and Legends historical series, she can be reached at:


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I’m envious of people who can write their stories chronologically. Not because they seem to have a whole sweeping arc of their story because my imagination always plays the whole story like a film.
I’m envious because I think the writing process wouldn’t be so messy. If you write chronologically, it’s like putting away your clothes—in order. You simply pick up one sock, then the other, before folding them together and placing them in a drawer.  

But the way I write is by scenes. I’m no sooner finishing up Chapter 3, then my brain jumps to Chapter 20. The way I put away ‘clothes’ is by picking up one sock from a corner, forgetting its matching pair, and picking up a scarf from under the bed. By the time I get to the end of the book, I forgot to write a drawer in which to put my clothes away…assuming that I can find the matching sock, which I almost never can.

Scrivener is a great help to organising plot bits of a story. But the way I write doesn’t help with the emotional arc of the story. I could write the scene where the heroine saves the day in Chapter 20, and I could guess what she is going to say and feel when it happens, but my characters always surprise me as I write them. So, by the time I return to that sweeping ending where she brandishes her sword, it won’t fit and I toss out 7k words.

Can I force it? No, never. I try, but it doesn’t work. By the time I get to that point, my heroine doesn’t brandish a sword, she’s learned to paralyze with a quick jab to the neck.

So, these matters can be fixed with a synopsis and deep character analysis, right? Nope. I always do a synopsis and character analysis, but these are first impressions of the character. They may give me some quirks and background, but they don’t reveal the depth of a person. I can bang out a synopsis in a day or two. But it takes me months to write a novel. By that time, I’ve spent months with my heroine, and I know she wants karate lessons.

So that sweeping ending when I thought the heroine wanted a sword, goes in the bin.
Twice now, I’ve attempted to write in chronological order. And I do well up until Chapter 4, but that’s when my brain jumps to different upcoming scenes. I can’t control or force myself either. So, I’m trying something new this time.

Still using Scrivener, still writing in scenes, but since I think of the stories like films, I’ve broken it down to three Acts, with the large emotional turning points propelling the story from Act 1 to Act 2, etc.

Instead of allowing myself to write different scenes from Act 1, 2, 3, I’m writing only Act 1 scenes. Not only the plot points, but the emotional ones as well. To make it easier for me, I’m writing them in any order I want. I’ve accepted that my brain can’t write chronologically, but I can’t write messily either because it’s not efficient.  


Absolutely it’ll take a bit more discipline to stay within Act 1, but this way still gives me wiggle room to be creative. Or at least a room where I didn’t forget to write in a drawer in Act 1, so I can’t put my socks away in Act 3.

The Knight's Scarred Maiden (Lovers and Legends)

A maiden for the mercenary 
Mercenary knight Rhain is living on borrowed time. With a vengeful warlord pursuing him, he has accepted his fate—though first he must get his men to safety. 
When he rescues mysterious and deeply scarred Helissent from her attackers, Rhain soon wishes he wasn't marked for death. He can never be the man she deserves—his scandalous lineage alone dictates that—but Rhain can't resist the temptation to show this innocent maiden how beautiful she truly is… 
Lovers and Legends A clash of Celtic passions

Buy on:

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B&N         Kobo     iBooks

Enter to win signed copies on Goodreads!




Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Knight's Scarred Maiden by Nicole Locke

The Knight's Scarred Maiden

by Nicole Locke

Giveaway ends August 30, 2017.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

27 comments:

  1. I love that idea that hidden books must be better :-) Always interesting to hear about other people's experiences with Scrivener. I've found it really useful to organize my chaotic writing style.

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    1. Thanks Ellen! I wish I utilized Scrivener better. The 'corkboard' always intrigues me....

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  2. When I worked I could write my reports in chronological order. Now that I'm retired I have to work at it much more. Must be a perishable skill.

    Have a fabulous day and thanks for visiting Comedy Plus. ☺

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    1. Hello Sandee! I've never been chrono in anything except maybe the years I'm living in...but then even that sometimes eludes me. :-) If it's perishable, I lost it long ago....

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  3. I jump around sometimes, too. As long as the book gets written, there's no right or wrong way to draft it.

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    1. I hope you're right about that draft, but then I keep thinking there's an easier way...

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  4. And books that you must hide are equally enticing. :-) I loved stashing those ripped bodice covers between my mattress and springs. Of course, I was caught by my very tidy grandmother. She cleaned everywhere! Congratulations to Nicole on her book.

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    1. Thank you! I was very lucky to be able to share romances with my grandmother. I wrote a #HarlequinMoment about it: http://www.soyouthinkyoucanwrite.com/2016/06/my-harlequinmoment-by-nicole-locke/

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  5. I love Scrivener for reasons like this! I'm (slowly and painfully) learning to plot - and it's great for that as well :)

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    1. One of the best books I read about plot was by James Scott Bell called Plot and Structure. Not that I followed it, but it helped me remember all my Shakespeare classes at University and the importance of Acts. Truly motivating as well.

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  6. Hi Kelly and Nicole - interesting to see how you break down your 'workings' - a good way of thinking about it ... but as I don't write books - it's a good lesson to stash away in case. I am about to get stuck into Scrivener ... another great learning tool. Good luck with the books - there's a lot of happy punters ready to read romance -those were the days! Cheers Hilary

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    1. Thanks Hilary! You're going to use Scrivener for your blog? You'd be very organised! Now you've got me thinking about how to sort my posts!

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    2. Yes Nicole - I'm going to use it to put into 'booklet' form ... ie using the A-Z style (we do in April each year) - 26 - 30 blog posts into different collections ... then I can publish them. I think it'd help with blog posts too ... cheers Hilary

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  7. Great to meet you, Nicole. I love how each one of us writes a different way. The secret is finding what works for you. I tried a few different ways, too, before coming back to what is natural for me.

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    1. Hello Carol! Good to see you again! I'm glad I try different techniques to write because I've incorporated so many writing tips over the years. But you're right, it does come down to what is natural, and just blending in the other ideas....

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  8. All the different techniques are fascinating. Happy Writing!

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    1. Thank you, Darla! I'm on deadline today so finishing up Nicholas' story...

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  9. There have been times when I skipped several chapters so I could write a scene that was drawing all of my attention.

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    1. Hello Chrys! Were you able to find your way back?

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  10. What an interesting post! Wishing Nicole the best of luck. Sounds like a great read. :)

    I don't think I have ever skipped ahead a few chapters to work on something later in the book- but I did consider that when I was writing something in January. I was worried I would get thrown off- but maybe I will give it a try next time the mood hits. :)
    ~Jess

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    1. If you can writing chronologically, I'm envious! Better yet if it works, don't break it! :-)

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  11. I love how everyone has such different writing techniques. I could never write out of order! But I love this messy style--it sounds so much more fun :)

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    1. I've read dozens of books on how to write, and no matter what, it all comes down to what works for the individual. Which is fun and yet frustrating when first learning the craft!

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  12. We all have our own ways of writing. What works for one might not work for another. I'm a plotter who works chronologically, but I'm fascinated by people who write like you.

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    1. I so wish I could write chrono! I'm going to try again on the next book... If not, back to this tried and true method!

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  13. Sometimes I wish I could be messier when I write, because then getting stuck on a little point won't bring the whole process to a halt. But alas, no.

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    1. Getting stuck is not my problem, but narrowing my focus and POV is definitely a drawback for me!

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