Guest Post: Angela Clarke's Writing Process

Thursday 3 December 2015
Today I am kicking off the blog tour for Angela Clarke's Follow Me. Sadly due to personal circumstances I have been unable to write my review and for the foreseeable future will be taking another step back from blogging. For now though I hope you enjoy reading this guest post where Angela talks about developing that first idea into an entire novel. Also, be sure to keep following the blog tour for more guest posts and reviews!


The ‘Hashtag Murderer’ posts chilling cryptic clues online, pointing to their next target. Taunting the police. Enthralling the press. Capturing the public’s imagination.

But this is no virtual threat.

As the number of his followers rises, so does the body count.

Eight years ago two young girls did something unforgivable. Now ambitious police officer Nasreen and investigative journalist Freddie are thrown together again in a desperate struggle to catch this cunning, fame-crazed killer. But can they stay one step ahead of him? And can they escape their own past?

Time's running out. Everyone is following the #Murderer. But what if he is following you?


How do you develop your first idea into an entire novel?

I believe a strong plot can be condensed into one or two sentences. A summary. A lift pitch: what you would say to an editor if you had sixty seconds to sell them your novel. When I have an idea I test it, develop it, until that idea has grown into my one or two summary sentences of plot. It focuses my mind on what’s at the route of a book: a strong story. A good narrative arc.

From there I expand the story out: identifying around six key plot points. So by now I know how my story, or my character, goes from A to F to K to P to T to Z. And then I start to write; building bridges between those key plot points.

At this stage, when the characters have fleshed out on the page and become real, the plot may veer in a different or unexpected direction. The characters react to their situation, which may be different than how I would react were I to find myself in the same situation: which will have shaped my own prediction of the key plot points. I’ve learnt it’s best to go where your character wants to, otherwise it can feel forced, unnatural. This keeps it authentic.

Once I’ve finished my first draft I reread it and check the validity of my summary plot sentences again. Have they changed? Do I need to tweak the sentences, or the plot? It helps me regulate the overall shape of a book: how it feels, its pace and tension. And then I start to edit. My first drafts tend to be quite short, around 45,000 words. My second draft is much longer. I might discuss elements of my first draft with others, but no one else sees the book until the second draft has been finished. At that point I show it to my agent, or some key writing friends. And then of course, I go on to redraft and edit again. And again. And again. Ha! I love writing, I’m less keen on editing…

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