Welcome to my blog on Writing Ellie Bravo.
Ellie Bravo began as a self imposed challenge.
When I was studying for my MA in Creative Writing I couldn’t decide what genre to write in. So, I decided that if I wrote 1,000 words a week after one year I’d have almost enough for a novella. I also wanted to experiment with writing a blog, so I set up the Elly Bravo Blogspot. My third challenge was to write outside my comfort zone. Romance is something I would never usually consider writing about and I was determined to give it a go.
Anything intimate that family and friends would read, would make me cringe with embarrassment. But it’s important to push your boundaries in order to evolve as an author.
I think my fear was that when friends and family read my work they would automatically look for ‘me’ or someone they know in the story or they would hear my voice reading it to them. I’m not saying there aren’t shades of me or shadows in some characters but more often my characters are based on my observations and the ‘what if’ scenario of people created in my head.
For example: I’m in a coffee shop and a yummy mummy appears with her band of friends and buggies and they take over. I think of the problems that they face, or a specific incident or I may overhear a conversation like an elderly relative coming to stay. Or I may speak to someone walking their dog and I learn of a problem they have and I imagine the difficulties they face.
I fantasise and daydream about the complicated lives of others, imagining their situations and emotions. Ellie Bravo’s character evolved. Ellie came alive for me during the writing of the blog. I created a fictitious life; a family tree, recipes that she cooked and artwork she liked. I found and posted photos from the Internet that I thought Ellie Bravo would like and to personalise it more I even took photographs and posted those on the blog too.
I wrote Ellie Bravo when I lived in Holywood, Northern Ireland. The original title for the book was ‘Across the Lough.’ Belfast Lough is where the Titanic sailed from and The Titanic Quarter was developed whilst I lived there. I often walked on both sides of the tow-path looking across the lough, wondering what was happening in other people’s lives and I imagined two lovers kept apart by circumstances.
I had a vague idea about the story but I didn’t plan ahead or use the snowflake method. It was a risk as the story was in danger of rambling and going nowhere but with a target of 500 words for each post twice a week, something had to happen in each scene. There had to be tension, excitement or revelation. It wasn’t until the very end that I knew myself what would happen and the dramatic scene that unfolded at Ellie’s ‘leaving do.’
It was a good discipline for me to write this twice weekly. Once the blog was finished – it did take me a year as I planned – I downloaded all the text and then went to work rewriting and editing.
Yes, I did change quite a lot around. That, as I explained in my earlier blog, is one of the benefits of rewriting. Then I put it aside for a few months and returned to the manuscript with a fresh eye. It was on only then that I was able to hone the details, make my characters more rounded and my dialogue sharper. This helped with the flow of the story and the overall narrative arc that I also talked about in my previous blog.
Ellie Bravo was an experiment – an amazing learning curve – and when it turned into a novel, I was both surprised and delighted.
It’s not a theme that will probably attract a lot of people’s attention but I wanted to write about an extraordinary love affair in an ordinary situation. I completed my aim.
REMEMBER: Be disciplined. Write every day. Read different genres. Don’t be afraid to experiment.
Next Blog Post: Be a Story Teller.