How Writers Write: Ian Creasey

How Writers Write is monthly series of guest posts where established writers invite you into their workspaces, reveal their work habits and share their experience.

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I’ve always enjoyed Ian Creasey’s stories.  Hearing that he’d just published a collection was enough for me to ask him if he wouldn’t mind contributing this extra post.  I was delighted when he said yes…

What do you use to write?

Ian CreaseyI use a very old version of Microsoft Word.  Every time I get a new PC, I install my CD of Office 2000.  It does the job.  I don’t like learning how to use new software: it’s too much of a distraction.  I’d rather just use something I’m already familiar with, so that I can concentrate on the actual writing.

When do you write?

I prefer to write late in the evening, say around 10pm onward.  By then, it’s usually quiet outside.  I hate noise, and I can’t write when there’s an external racket such as people mowing the lawn and so on.  (The most heartfelt story in my new collection, Escape Routes from Earth, is a novelette called “Danny and the Quiet Police” — it’s about people who hate noise so much that they set up a community called Quiet Island, full of decibel meters and policemen enforcing the Noise Code.  The story’s protagonist is a teenager who rebels against the community; but my own sympathies are firmly on the side of the Quiet Police.)

Where do you write?

Study 1I have a dedicated room in the house.  My house is a standard 3-bed semi-detached, and I use the third bedroom (what people sometimes call the box room) as my study.  It’s small, but I don’t mind — in winter it’s an advantage, because the room heats up quicker and stays cosy.  I usually keep the curtains closed, to reduce distractions from outside.

How do you write?

I don’t like to get all hi-falutin about my so-called “process”, since it only really consists of two steps.  The first step is a lot of brainstorming, which continues until I have a broad outline and I know what note I want to hit at the end.  The second step is to actually write the story based on the outline.

Questions of Style

I don’t worry about style.  I figure that everything I write is automatically in my own style, which is probably a mishmash of influences from Douglas Adams to J.G. Ballard.

Very occasionally a story will demand a particular voice, and in that case I’ll usually find an appropriate source to borrow from.  For instance, my story “The Unparallel’d Death-Defying Feats of Astoundio, Escape Artist Extraordinaire” is a first-person narrative from a showman’s viewpoint, and I modelled his voice upon illusionist Derren Brown (based on his shows and his books).  Not that Derren Brown has ever escaped from a black hole — at least, not as far as I know.  (I wouldn’t put it past him.)

When the First Draft is Done…

When I’ve finished a first draft, I get it critiqued.  I’m a member of NorthwriteSF, an in-person writing group that meets in Yorkshire every three months.  I’m also a member of online writing forums Codex and Critters.

Having said that, it’s a bit of a circular question because I actually define a first draft as the first version of a story that gets seen by anyone else.  Up until that point, it’s what I call a zero draft.  I generally tinker with a zero draft for a while before declaring it an official first draft and showing it to other people.  This is because I want critiquers to point out issues that I didn’t know about; I figure I’m wasting their time and mine if they mention problems that I already knew existed.

What Are You Working On At The Moment?

Escape_Routes_from_Earth_cover_smallI’m in a gap between projects because I’ve just finished putting together my collection, and I’m taking a breather before moving onto the next thing. The collection, Escape Routes from Earth, contains 14 SF stories, all originally published in magazines — half of them in Asimov’s Science Fiction, and half of them elsewhere.

I have plenty more story ideas on file, so it’s just a case of going through them and deciding which of them I want to write next.

You can catch up with my projects at my website,