Blog on the Bus pt 57 (the plot thickens)

You know, it always amuses me when people say “You’re a writer? Oh, I always wanted to write a book…but I don’t know what I’d write about!”

It amuses me because I was one of those people. I always had this voice in the back of my mind saying “You should write a book!” I ignored the voice for as long as I could through a combination of alcohol and prescription medication but still it persisted:

“You should write a book!”
“But what about?” I would argue.
“Write what you know,” the voice told me.

Eventually, I relented and decided to give it a go. I’d tried before of course and had failed. I wondered if I could do it…

So, how does one judge success? I suppose it depends on your point of view. At the time of writing Integration, I judged success by how many words I could get on a page (I should point out that this is an appalling measure of success and would strongly discourage you from using it!) I was delighted to write a one hundred thousand word manuscript with no real idea how I had arrived there. I remember writing the first four thousand words and having a very rough idea in mind of how I wanted it to go. But that was it: it was all in my head! To say that writing Integration was more luck than judgement would be an understatement.

I knew when I endeavoured to write again that I wanted a greater structure and so physically typed a plot statement for Remorse. All it covered was what would happen on each ‘day’ in the book but didn’t break it down chapter-by-chapter. It was a better way of doing things but still left me scratching my head on occasion wondering what I should write next.

So, I evolved again and by the time I was ready to write Redemption, the eagerly anticipated follow up to Integration, I had a plot that broke down what should happen in each chapter and it was very easy to write. Seems obvious, doesn’t it, but at the time I was writing blind; there is so much help and support out there from various authors (both ‘indie’ and ‘traditional’) that it’s easy to lose sight of what is beneficial.

Writing a plot these days, for me, is a three month process and a good plot can be upwards of 10k words before I even type the first line of a manuscript. But it works: I managed to write my latest potential masterpiece in two months!

I’ve just started writing the plot for a new project. The writing won’t start until January so there’s plenty of time for the plot to develop in my head and on the page. This one is set over twelve hours and so the plot will need to be very detailed as I’ll need to know exactly what is going on with all the characters at any given minute. It’ll be a challenge but one I’m relishing!

So, the next time you hear that voice in the back of your mind saying “You should write a book!”, don’t challenge it, don’t argue, just say “Yes!” If I can do it, anyone can!

Until the next time, happy reading!


(Stephen is the author of Integration, Remorse, Redemption, Snatched and Shadow Line. Find his work here, here or via


Blog on the Bus pt 56 (finding fun in France)

Salut, bonjour, hello and hiya! I’m back from my far flung fortnight in France and up to my usual tricks (well I’m on the train to my job in London).

So, what have I learned?

> My grasp of the French language is better than I remembered.
> Driving in Europe is not quite as heart-in-mouth as I had feared it would be (there was the odd scary moment but that’s what happens when you drive with your eyes closed)
> Flan Parisian is thick custard in pastry and absolutely delicious!!!
> There is nothing wrong with €1.50 wine (grabbed ten 1l bottles for €15!). It was very drinkable and I shall be enjoying it till Christmas.

I spent the two weeks relaxing, drinking, eating cakes and proof-reading. You’ll be pleased to hear I excelled in each of these areas. I managed to finish draft two of ‘Trespass’ my next project. It will be off to my team of proofreaders in the next week and I will publish it on 01 December. What’s more I began work on a new 15k word novelette, which I’ll publish at some point in October.

As any struggling-to-be-heard-over-the-crowd (too many hyphens?) indie author, I know what it is to be racked with self-doubt (if the acne-ridden teenager doing work experience in the publisher’s office doesn’t like it then it must be crap, right?). I’ve now self-published five novels and three novelettes in the three years since I set off on this road to writer-dom, with the two projects already mentioned due before the year is out. Surely there’s a reason I’ve completed all these projects? Right? I mean, surely (don’t call me Shirley!)

What I actually learned in France was:

Your Rowlings, Shakespeares and Browns can capture the majority of the reading world and enjoy their millions of pounds in offshore bank accounts. Whilst I would love to join that club, I have something they don’t: I have the minority audience, the handful of people who defy the pimply teenagers in the publisher’s office and actually enjoy my work! That’s something JK, William and Dan will never have. They are my loyal fan base and the fact that I’ve entertained them and you means I’ve achieved my writing goal!

I set out on this road to leave my name in history. I guess I can consider that box ticked.

Until the next time, happy reading,


(Stephen is the author of Integration, Remorse, Redemption, Snatched and Shadow Line. Find his work here, here or via