Taylin’s Writing Process
by Taylin Clavelli
Over the years, I’ve had quite a few people ask me how I got into writing or when I realized that I wanted to be a writer? All my life, I’ve been an avid reader, and to be honest, I can’t say that I ever consciously wanted to be a writer, I kind of fell into it and it snowballed. My cousin Simon is a writer and his brothers are all artistic, but I never thought the creative gene was within me.
To date, I’ve written three novels and six anthology stories. None of my books have conformed to the norm. They’ve either spanned genre’s or have been written in a voice not consistent with the era. What can I say – I like to be a bit different. My novels include:-
Dakota Skies 🡪 a western set in 1875, written with a more modern voice.
Secret of the Manor 🡪 a contemporary romance with a little sword and sorcery.
Hathonatum is my current novel. It is a love story that spans time, dimension, universe and death.
Hathonatum is also the first novel which is part of a series. The Pelethus series. But, it can be read as a standalone. Initially, I intended for Hathonatum to be a one-off. However, some characters appear later in the story, which my pre-readers insisted have a story to tell.
For me, there is no average time for writing a story. Every novel has been different in duration. The defining factor has been inspiration. I’ve tried to force it, only to write a chapter that seemed contrived and unnatural. I don’t aim to write a certain number of words a day, either, because family, work and life in general usually interrupt. Just because I’m not actively writing words doesn’t mean I’m not working on the story. I’m often running through an idea in my head – a little bit here, a little bit there. I’ve usually got a notebook close by for that idea I don’t want to forget.
Ideas for a story can come from anywhere and in that respect, I prefer writing novels because I can get totally vested in the characters and their lives. Inspiration for all my books or scenes within them came from different places. They vary between music, art, personal experience, tales from friends or a combination of things that can be totally unrelated.
Once I have an idea, I put bullet points in a document, which I frequently rearrange. I don’t use it as a story plan but as a reminder. Then as I write, the ideas get used up – not necessarily in their original order. The first few chapters are the most challenging to write because, if a reader’s attention isn’t grabbed in those opening pages, no matter how good it gets later, a bad review usually follows. A bad finish can get the same result. Readers like to have completion and feel satisfied that the people who they have hopefully come to love, get the ending right for them.
Finding a good, comfortable place to write is essential. I write, either in my bedroom or in company with my noise-cancelling headphones on. It allows me to get into the headspace of the character and to think more about their actions, reactions and speech patterns.
In Hathonatum, the speech of Ben is like that of a regular Brit, cutting corners and shortening words. Hathonatum’s is more precise suggesting English was not his native language. When developing a character, I have a general physical outline. E.g. Hathonatum was always going to be the tall, dark and mysterious one. Therefore, it fits that his personality was more held back and guarded. Whereas, with Ben, I had a little more leeway. He could be more open and freer with his thoughts. One thing I never do is base a complete character on a person that I know. I take a characteristic from here, another from there, then add something unique for them.
Writer’s block can be a pain. When it happens, I usually step away from the story for a while. If I force a scene, it never comes outright. Using personal experiences helps minimize writer’s block. In Hathonatum, Egyptian history has been a long-term hobby, and I have been to Cairo, seen the pyramids and taken a trip down the Nile. When using experiences, it is easier to describe the emotions that accompany a scene.
At the end of the day, writing is only one part of producing a story. Having a tough pre-reader and a damned good editor are worth their weight in gold. These talented people read a story cold, and don’t add in any assumed aspects. They help make a story the best it can be.