Friday, April 27, 2012

Fast Writer: Melanie Milburne

Our fast writer today is Melanie Milburne who writer for Harlequin Mills and Boon Modern and Medical Romance lines. Welcome Melanie and thank you very much for agreeing to be interviewed for my Fast Writers blog series.

·      First, I’d love to hear about your writing day in a quick snapshot. Do you have a special time to write? Or do you grab moments whenever you can? I guess I’d like to know how structured you are.

My writing day is fairly structured. I’m a clear- the-desk-first type of person so I like to get other stuff out of the way so I feel free in my head to write. I swim early and then I walk my dogs. Then I sort out business emails and so on before I sit down to write. I prefer block time so I can immerse myself into the story world rather than snatch odd moments here and there.

·         What sort of writer are you? Planner or pantser?
I’ve thought a lot about the pantser and plotter thing. I’ve finally come to realize that I’m a bit of both. Some books come to me intuitively; others take a bit more thinking through. If I write a too detailed plan I nearly always end up veering away from it. If I don’t plan at all I can end up losing my way and having to do massive rewrites.
·          Did you always write this way? Or is your method something you picked up along the way?
I’ve always been a fast writer. Again, I think it’s very much linked to my personality. My brain runs like a Ferrari most of the time. Over the years I’ve had to concentrate on slowing down my speech so friends and family can keep up! Writing fast is normal for me so it really scares me when I hit a rough patch and the words don’t pour out as they usually do.
·          Can you tell us a bit about the technique you use to help you to write quickly, and how you developed it?

The technique I use (or which comes most naturally to me) is to write in fits and bursts. I always start with a new book with a bang. I find the first half of the book easy. I can write 20,000 words in a couple of weeks, but then things start to slow down and I might have a few days, or even a week or more, when I don’t write anything much at all, although I will be still be processing it in my head. Then I’ll come back at it and finish it in a rush.

·         How many words do you write per hr/writing session?

I don’t set word count limits or pages for the hour or day. I prefer a word count for the week. I set a target and then head towards it. It keeps me focused and motivated.

·         How many hours per day do you write? And how many days per week?

I write for four to six hours most days. I take weekends off here and there, but when I’m deep in the story world I prefer to keep going until it’s finished. That’s why I find social media and the business end of writing so distracting. They pull me out of the story world and it can take ages to plug myself in back in. It’s like trying to watch a movie while someone is talking to you. Impossible!

·         How quickly can/do you finish a book?

It usually takes me four to six weeks to write a book. But that’s just the unpolished version. It will take another week or so to edit and tighten up the story.

·         Do you know what you're going to write each day before you start your writing sessions? For instance, do you draft the scenes/chapters you’re about to write just before you write them, or do you thoroughly outline before you even start the book (if you’re a planner, that is J)?
I don’t always know what I’m going to write each day. Sometimes I know I’m going to write a particular scene, such as the crisis or climatic scene or a love scene, but generally I will see where the characters will take me. Even when I’ve done a rough outline or a detailed beat sheet I will still let the characters have precedence over it. That is the magic of storytelling. The story comes to you if you’re open to it.

·         How do you prevent your internal editor/critic from interrupting?

I have learned to control or balance my internal critic/editor. It’s not a bad thing to be critical of your work but you have to be constructive in how you go about it. You have to take an honest look at it now and again and improve where you can. Over the last couple of years I’ve been studying the craft of writing by reading dozens of books on story structure and attending novel and screenplay workshops. I found my writing slowed down a quite bit to start with. It was almost paralyzing creatively. I was overthinking everything. Now I find I am back to my fast pace as I’ve gradually integrated what I’ve learned. It’s a bit like learning to drive. At first you remember every stop sign, but once you become more experienced it becomes more intuitive.

·         Do you have any more tips you’d like to share?

My best tip for writing is: If you can’t tell someone what your story is about in a sentence or two then you have no story.

Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy day to spend time with us here today. We’d love to hear about your new book, would you tell us a bit about it?
My next release is Book One of a duet called Deserving of His Diamonds. It is a story about a young woman whose life was destroyed two years ago by a sex tape scandal before she found out she had an identical twin. When her ex-fiancĂ© Emilio Andreoni finds out the truth he moves heaven and earth to get her back in his life, but there is something heartbreakingly tragic that Gisele hasn’t told him about the time they were apart.

You can find Melanie here: Website, Facebook, Blog

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  1. Wonderful interview. I know what you mean about having to clear the desk before you start writing. I can't get into writing if I have other things nagging at the back of my brain. Your release sounds great. Good luck.

  2. Hi Dawn,
    Glad to know I'm not the only one! It's just so distracting to have all those tasks staring at you, isn't it?
    All the best with your writing.

  3. Hi Melanie,
    Thank you for the lovely interview I loved learning even more about you then I knew before.

    And thank you Monique for brining my very favorite author in the whole world to your blog.


  4. Hi Desere,
    You are such a sweetheart! Nice of you to drop by.

  5. Hi, Dawn,

    Thank for stopping by. I'm completely opposite. If I stop to deal with anything before writing, I never get any writing done! :)

  6. You're welcome, Desere,

    It was a pleasure. Melanie is fab! :)

  7. Thank you so much for hanging with us, Melanie!

    Hugs x


Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment. I greatly appreciate it! :) :)