November 18, 2016 @ 12:58 AM

Writing Tips from a professional author...

Somebody asked the other day what I do with all those files and folders I set up on the shelf in readiness for the new book? Isn't it more bureaucratic than creative?

Maybe. But as my stories are mostly based on real people and events, I find the method helps enormously to sort ideas and the historical research into their proper literary sequence.

I use two systems. The first is a set of large ring binders into which I put all the material relating to specific sections of the book.

With the convict story I'll have a separate binder on his youth in England and trial; another on the voyage to Australia and his convict years; a third on his life after he got his ticket-of-leave.

When it comes to the writing, I have a separate file for each chapter in which I put copies of the relevant research, photographs, correspondence, the chapter drafts and so on. Helpful for keeping the story on track – and essential I find for checking the factual material at the editing stage.

Other writers have their own systems, but this one works well for me. Perhaps it's the few years I spent working with the public service. But what did Hercule Poirot say? Order and method – that's the secret for solving any puzzle. No less with the structure of a book than the construct of a murder.

Photos show some of my subject binders of "For Love of Country" and the individual story files for the new edition of "Animal Heroes".