My guest writer today is Gregory Oliver … Greg is a South African and an English teacher in South Thailand, busy writing his second novel. He reckons he enjoys travelling to quiet islands where he can be alone with his thoughts and by extension, his writing. His first novel “Rough Diamonds” is out… check the link here or at the end for where you can buy it. Today Greg chats to us about his writnig process and his book, Rough Diamonds.

From Gregory Oliver
For me the writing process starts out by sketching the plot but creating characters who are not sketchy in the slightest. So I buy a fairly expensive, funky looking journal, something with a mole skin or raw silk cover, and the colour is very important. It must reflect the mood I want for the novel-to-be.

Then I write extensive notes on my characters: How they talk, how they think, their life history, what they eat, what they wear, but most important…what makes them tick. What drives these people? How will they react when things go horribly wrong ? And in doing this I try to base my characters partly on real people and partly on what attributes captivate a reader.

Now for the plot. I break it down into parts, not really chapters because at this stage it’s only a blueprint  I’m creating. So I break the story down into anything from nine to fifteen mini-parts. At this time I write a one-liner describing my novel. For me, this is possibly the most important step because if my one-liner doesn’t sound great then I’m wasting my time.

And so I write, I tend to work on an enthralling opening chapter that reveals my writing style and also intrigues the reader. And so I blow on those flames of creativity until I have a raging inferno right in my living room. I am there, in the story, my reality exists on a page of words. Of course, at various points I experience a severe catharsis because I draw from real life as far as possible. Sometimes I have to take time-out from writing because it just gets too heavy. Art imitates life. But, real life must go on.

Details. Details. It’s all in the details. What I don’t know I research meticulously and give my novel a ‘real feel’.Then comes the re-write: I confront myself. Is this a really a good novel to read? And let’s not forget the punctuation. I check everything before my editor does. A good writer should, in my opinion, be self critical. For me, as a writer or reader,I want those pages to turn, never a dull moment. But all stories end and my stories end sometimes with a bang or an orgasmic shudder or even a gasp of shock. Because, after all, the end  should satisfy the reader. Let your reader feel the end. Feel, I can not stress this word enough. The reader must feel it, not just read it.

My advice to other writers is: if you feel the need to punch some stranger in the mouth, or bonk your boss, or tell that traffic cop to get lost or hang out with the Homicide Squad for a weekend, then do it, IF it will help you write. My first novel, Rough Diamonds, was very well planned. Even so, I did several re-writes until I was satisfied.

And what is Rough Diamonds about ? Adventure, violence and betrayal.  The story takes place during the violent and brutal Mozambique civil war of the 80s, David Parker returns from exile in Holland to South Africa to attend his older brother’s funeral and ends up on a yacht bound for north Mozambique to dig up a cache of uncut diamonds. The journey takes our protagonist through dangerous waters and ports and he has to learn to deal with violence and death. The skipper is a veteran of the African Bush War and does not see eye to eye with David.  The other crew member is a sexy Israeli woman. Tension on the confined yacht is intense as they sail North. David can trust no one but he can’t succeed alone.

You can buy the Rough Diamonds eBook from Kalahari.net by clicking here!