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Witchcraft and Alchemy or the Craft and Process of Writing

By Anne Beggs
June 7, 2022

 We all know the iconic quote by W. Somerset Maugham, “There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”

Volumes have been written on the craft and process of writing, and I didn’t read or study ANY before I started writing.

Aerial view of the 2014 Bardarbunga eruption at the Holuhraun fissures, Central Highlands, Iceland

I just started writing, letting the words and ideas flow like molten lava before I had a clue about the craft of storytelling and writing. Further writing and critique lead to more and more study of the craft, the art and bones of writing a truly compelling book that served my characters and their stories. Books, classes, conferences, and writers’ groups guided my steps to stronger writing.

I had to learn to plot a beginning, middle and end. The crisis, catalyst, climax and resolution. Then I needed to fill in the pages with the settings, the conversations, the tension required to turn each page.

I bless my friends and family for reading that early tripe and encouraging me to continue and thank goodness I looked for more tools of the craft to strengthen and tighten my writing.

Plotting is a real struggle for me, and I was thrilled to find Martha Alderson, The Plot Whisperer, she has great books and resources, a great formula to map/plot your book. Stacy Juba, Book Editing Blueprint, and her fb group, Shortcuts for Writers.: Editing Made Simple, is another tool I have used.

I took on-line courses through our local community college. Classes through County Parks and Rec. I hunted down lectures and presentations at bookstores. Besides my research and writing books, I got all kinds of writing magazines every month.

I have some good books on language and grammar, … but gosh it is also so easy to google it on-line. And a funny thing as I type this, my internet is OUT (the router died). This hasn’t happened in years, but when I need the resource, gone. So, it is a good thing I have books to refer to. I have included a photo of some of the books I’ve read over the years…and yes, I have a TBR list as well.

I loved Stephen King’s book, On Writing. Anyone else?


Paper Lantern Writers has recently blogged about setting, themes and symbols, so I won’t repeat those craft aspects.


Writing requires discipline and that is different for everyone, but you do have WRITE. Best if you can write every day. That is where my writer’s group and book club also help tremendously. I have an obligation–to myself and the members I so cherish. 


Writer’s groups and critique groups are a treasure. It is important to find or create a good fit, and it may take time. I loved my writer’s groups and gained so much – way more than just writing, but life lessons in general. Same with a great book club. Again, the obligation keeps you motivated and writing.


Writer’s Conferences are excellent. The Historical Novel Society and the Surrey International Writer’s conference are two of my favorites. I love the panels and workshops given by writers, agents, and publishers. Not to mention the people you will meet just standing in line.


As an historical fiction writer, research, exploration, and experience are vital parts of my process for writing. Finding out what happened? How was it done? Who did it? What the hell? We traveled to Europe several times, indulging my Medieval fetish while researching and exploring castles, cathedrals, landscapes, museums, people, cuisine and the glories of somewhere wonderful. Then we got our first horses, bought a horse boarding ranch and all international travel stopped as we researched and learned horsemanship and mounted archery. As well as the spiritual awakening that horses bring. All experiential research.


Bear with my rambling, this IS my writing process. In my non-writer life, I am focused, a list maker. I was born to clean and organize. I was also born creative with a surround sound, technicolor imagination with horses, animals, and people all living wildly exciting adventures.

Then there are the characters—they and my imagination ride off full gallop on tangents, taking many detours. Fun and interesting, but more often than not, deleted as gratuitous and not serving the story/theme. That is what I need to do to figure it all out. Then go back and make it seamless, cohesive and…breathless.


I wish I wrote faster. Wish I knew how the story would go and could write it – done.  Maybe with more experience I will get more streamlined. Now I have to write many possibilities and see which one really serves the story. This is also something I LOVE about writing. I can do it over. Get it right. How many times do we say something or do something we can’t take back? Picture my hand way up. But writing, I can do it over and over until I get it right.


There is therapy in the process of writing.

One more thing – I love the date I was asked to blog. June 7. June 7, 1953 was my parents’ anniversary, and for that reason I chose June 7 (AD1224) as the starting day of my book, Archer’s Grace.

Anne Beggs
Written by Anne Beggs

Anne M. Beggs writes adventure romance and family saga set in Medieval Ireland. She is a member of Paper Lantern Writers and Historical Novel Society. For about her books, mounted archery, and horses, please contact her on Facebook or Instagram @annitbella72

View Anne’s PLW Profile

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