LifeOfWriters.com had the pleasure to interview Katie Oliver. She is a bestselling-romance author of Dating Mr. Darcy series. She is published by CarinaUK and she has been writing since she was eight years old.
- Can you describe your writing process?
I start with an idea and try to fashion it into a workable plot. Next, I draft a synopsis and devise the story’s major turning points. Then I’m ready to start writing.
After that, it’s a matter of applying my rear end to the chair, sitting in front of the laptop, and writing – every day, five days a week, until I hit at least 2,000 words. On a deadline, I aim for 5,000 words a day.
- Do you plan before you start writing? If so how do you do it?
Oh, yes – for me, planning is crucial. I start with a spiral notebook and jot down my story idea, characters, settings, bits of dialogue, big scenes, etc. Since I’m a visual person, I tear out magazine photos of people who resemble my characters and create a mood board. I also keep a folder of reference articles relating to the story and links to any relevant websites.
- Where did the ideas for your books come from?
I wish I knew! Most of my ideas come from random things – something I read, something I see on television that catches my interest, an interesting newspaper article, maybe an overheard conversation at the airport or in a restaurant. Another good source for ideas is asking the ‘what if’ question – what if your best friend died/you lost everything/you found out your husband was cheating on you? What would you do? Those can inspire some good plot ideas.
My first published book, Prada and Prejudice, evolved, oddly enough, from an episode of “Kitchen Nightmares” with Gordon Ramsey. He butted heads with a spoiled Italian restaurant owner’s daughter in a big way – leading to huge conflict! I ended up writing about a spoiled British heiress who butts heads with the consultant brought in to save her family’s failing department store.
-How often do you read?
Not as often as I’d like! I’ve usually always got two books going – an e-book, and a paperback. Right now I’m reading Fannie Flagg’s “The Last Reunion of the All Girls’ Filling Station,” “Mothers and Daughters” by Minna Howard, and “Feast Day of Fools” by James Lee Burke. I like Southern fiction, contemporary women’s fiction, and romantic comedy.
I used to read a book a week; nowadays, especially when I’m writing, I’m lucky to manage two or three books a month. But reading any book is better than not reading at all.
- What would be your top 5 writing tips?
- Learn the craft of writing – how to construct a plot, how to create conflict and suspense, how to write a great opening paragraph and create memorable, realistic characters. Learning these things will serve you well as you write your own stories.
- It’s only through reading books by other authors in a variety of genres that you can study the structure of a good sentence, a killer opening, the effective use of dialogue. Published authors are the best writing teachers.
- Don’t be in such a hurry to get published that you take the first deal you’re offered. There are a lot of excellent publishers out there. There are also some bad ones. Know the difference. And never, ever pay anyone to publish your work.
- Make time to write, every day. Even if it’s only a few paragraphs or a couple of pages – write. Put words down on the paper. It’s only through practice that a writer gets better.
- Be a ruthless editor. Every line of dialogue, every scene, every chapter must have a purpose and a reason for being there. If it doesn’t, cut it.