Approaches to writing - Kate Braithwaite

23 April 2012 / Leave a Comment
Kate Braithwaite
The Licenser
When Titus Oates stuns Restoration London with fictitious tales of a Popish Plot, only Nat Thompson, The Licenser, has the courage to find the truth.

What inspired the idea behind your story?
I came across Titus Oates in a newspaper article about the 'worst Britons'. He was the winner for the 17th century. I'd been writing a story set in 17th century Paris and I was enjoying the period so I wanted to know more about Oates and the Popish Plot. I was quickly fascinated by the fact that this virtual nobody could have the whole country in crisis. The more I read, the more I felt he was a villain I'd love to write about.

From there (slowly) came the fictional story of Nat Thompson – a writer who becomes obsessed with proving that Oates is a liar. And I began to explore how his pursuit affects his young wife, Anne. She has left her rich family to be with Nat, only to find him putting their safety on the line with his public attacks on Oates, the so-called Saviour of the Nation.

How long did the first draft take to write and how would you describe this process?
A long time! I had several false starts and struggled to get the structure right. I was workshopping chapters as I wrote and that was great for putting pressure on me to make my writing as sharp and as strong as it could be. But it also meant that I kept re-writing the beginning rather than making it through to the end and then sitting back and making level-headed decisions. For my next project, I'm doing the whole draft before sharing it with anyone (well maybe one fellow writer – but that's it!)

Where do you write and how often and how long do you spend writing?
I write wherever I can access a laptop. I can't write with a pen anymore. It's too slow. I like to write in the morning best of all and can easily sit for three hours. When the writing is flowing, time seems to vanish. I have three kids so I write when they are at school. During holidays I can research and proof read, but new writing has to wait.

How do you go about rewriting and editing your book? And how has it changed from the initial draft?
I started writing The Licenser as a first person narrative with some third person sections for scenes Nat couldn't have seen. That didn't work for readers so I went all first person. I tried a non-linear approach with Nat telling the story from a place 10 years later. That was really the first draft I finished. I submitted to agents but more than one commented that the frame pushed the reader away from the drama. There was also a need for more of a sub-plot with Nat's wife, Anne.

That's when I went right back to the beginning. I have two narrators now and I re-cast some scenes from Anne's point of view but also wrote a whole lot of new material. And cut a lot too. Oh – and I changed it into present tense, really trying to make the drama as alive as possible.

When is a book finished?
Ha! I'm not sure I can answer that. For the moment, The Licenser is finished. But I'd never say never. I've had some feedback on Authonomy that's made me think about some minor revisions/editing. And if I was lucky enough to find a publisher, I'm sure there would be some further editing to do. I've done the best I can so far though!

To view Kate’s book on Authonomy visit


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