An Insight into the Novel-Writing Process

Jacqueline James is just about to release her debut novel, Rude Awakenings. Having joined us on two retreats, Jacqui has kindly shared her writing process here.

Rude Awakenings is released in February, 2021 and can be purchased on Amazon.

I have always written diaries and travel journals, recording life around me and my feelings. I have kept all the travel journals but the diaries I destroyed. However, having written about sad and happy times in my life they were cemented in my memory ready to be drawn upon when I started to write fiction.

I was still working as a GP when the idea for my novel came to me. My parents needed more care and every spare moment was spent travelling to them or being with them. The characters for my novel developed in my mind as I drove and accompanied me on every journey between Cambridge and Solihull. Any one who has ever cared for an elderly relative will know that although there are very busy times, there are also great stretches of time where there is nothing to do but you just need to be there. In those empty times, I wrote.

I booked myself onto an Arvon writing course which was invaluable, for the excellent tutoring, the space (mental and physical) to write but mainly because the positive feedback that I received gave me the courage to retire from my career as a GP and concentrate on writing.
I am a very organised person and I planned the book carefully. In a notebook I wrote out the timeline, described the characters, drew a map to show where they all lived in relation to one another, planned what was to happen in each chapter. I hadn’t taken into account my characters, they took over, they didn’t follow my plan.

Even when I finished work, life was still very full and writing often had to take a back seat, so I booked myself into a retreat with Writers Retreat UK. In beautiful surroundings, with like minded people, cared for brilliantly by Jan and Anne, the real world disappeared and I could enter the world of my novel and write. It was so good that I have repeated the experience and am looking forward to a time when we are free to travel again so that I can indulge myself again.

My book went through several revisions, I allowed a few friends and members of my family read it, I went on an editing course, an invaluable experience and then when I was happy with it, I filed it on a shelf afraid to publish. It sat there for nearly two years, life went on, I wrote short stories, I even started a sequel.

It was on another Writers Retreat UK retreat that, chatting with Jan and a Skype session with scriptwriter Steven Nesbit, convinced that a book is nothing until it has readers. I started on the self publishing process and here I am.