Monday 22 February 2021

BLOG TOUR: Jenny Downham’s writing process and emotional journey for Furious Thing

Hello, fellow bookworms! Today I’m excited to be kicking off the blog tour for Furious Thing, with a guest post from Jenny Downham about her writing process for the book!

I never plot books in advance.  I use freewriting techniques instead.  This is where you write continuously for a set period without worrying about where the words are taking you. Do enough freewriting in enough locations over enough weeks and months and a story begins to emerge and themes, characters and location begin to clarify.   

With Furious Thing, I simply started with the notion of scapegoating – where one person in a family gets blamed for everything that goes wrong.  It’s something that’s always fascinated me.   

I wrote about a golden family, then a 15-year-old girl, Lexi, who was ‘different’ from this family.  She says, ‘I’m an ogre compared to the rest of them.’  

Then her anger unveiled itself and I realised that families who scapegoat one of their children often have something to hide.   And that sometimes the scapegoated child refuses to accept their role.   

Once I’m sure of the story’s direction and tone I begin to work on ‘main event’ chapters.  These provide stepping-stones for the whole.  For instance, I knew I needed a scene where Lexi flouts family rules and has to face the consequences.  I wanted a scene where she feels desperately alone and another where she feels hopeful and loved.  I take these first draft chapters to my writing group for feedback.  It’s incredibly useful to have your story reflected back at you.  Early readers often see things you don’t know are there and want to see scenes you might not have considered including.   

I have to keep my emotional distance, otherwise there’s a danger the writing becomes indulgent.  It’s important that I can step into each character’s shoes and find their motivation.  This means that even though I might love Lexi and want her to triumph, I also have to understand the people who stand in her way and why they act the way they do.   

Lexi was great fun to write though.  She’s so impulsive and writing from the point of view of someone who doesn’t consider outcomes before they act is enormously freeing.  She might not be as academic as her siblings, but she’s emotionally eloquent.  She was constantly getting into trouble for creating chaos and I had to get her out of it.  I loved that about her. 

Huge thank you to Jenny for the wonderful post! Be sure to check out the other blogs taking part this week: 


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