Friday, 10 February 2017

Writing a PLAN - a new skill.

I hate being bad at something. If I sign up for a course I tend to do a lot of preliminary research first so i don't appear stupid, which when you think about it, is stupid as I've now signed up to do a course about something I already know a lot about. I find it really hard to sign up for something I'm naturally bad at like - languages. You won;t see me struggling with basic French any time soon. But here I am signed up to a new publisher (yay!) with a great new editor (yay!) who wants me to write a book plan. What's the anti-yay? Help? Howl like a wolf stuck in a hole? 

Like a lot of writers (surveys suggest about half) I start out with an idea and write and it sort of - happens. Then I run out of ideas and it's really nerve-racking, sweating in from the the keyboard in case it doesn't come back. So far, it always comes back but the new bits won't fit with the first bits and then a nasty feeling character C shouldn't come into the story at the beginning after all creeps in - writing like this means a lot of rewriting and restructuring in the second, third and ninth draft. It's downright inefficient.   

Writing a plan makes perfect, brilliant sense. I should definitely do it. Only now I've written A Baby's Bones and now I have to write a plan for the sequel, I'm finding it really hard. I have a story (the easy bit for me) but structuring it in advance has been a real challenge but I think I've done it. It's not a good outline and I have had a lot of help (thank you so much to Ruth and Jane and others who have helped) and I know it sort of meets the basic requirement for an outline - it runs linearly from the discovery of a body to the solving of the crime via some interesting chapters. 

Now my worry is - what happens if an even more fun idea occurs during the writing of the book? What happens if it veers wildly off course into the nettles of improvisation? I do have an editor and agent to run ideas past, of course, but I don't want to bother them all the time. 

On the very plus side - I can get on and write any part of the book - I could make a list of chapters and scenes and draft them out of sequence. That really appeals, I could write the scary bits when I'm sitting at a sunlit desk  - rather than sit up at two in the morning next to a window with no curtains and write the dark stuff until I can't sleep. I just wonder if they would be as creepy!

It's been a positive experience and I hope that in future I will be one of those half planned, half go-with-the-flow writers who plan islands of plot to aim for - I think that would be helpful. 

On that note, I recently wrote the first half of a book called I Will Find You and I actually did have a bit of a plan for that. I'm getting the hang of this writing business - about time.
Picture of my sunlit desk.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Research into werewolves and monsters

Yesterday, A Baby's Bones was sent off to my new editor. Today, I'm free to fall into research for book 2. Editing is a creative process, of course, but new stories are yummy to come up with. One of the places I love (after the Island, which will always be special) is the New Forest, and I'm planning a 'research' trip to find some puzzle/crime for Sage to work on. It helps that it's close to her university and it's a very ancient bit of landscape. It has the highest concentration of really old trees of any woodland in Britain or even Western Europe, with oaks up to 600 years old and hollies over 300 years. 

It's got a lot of history, too, since William the Conqueror established it as a royal forest. I love walking in the forest, you can very easily feel like you're alone, just the sounds of forest birds or deer and ponies spooking you. It's my favourite bit of the drive down to the Island, too, as we head for Lymington and the ferry. 

So I'm looking at bronze age barrows in the forest, known locally as 'butts'.
I'm sure Sage would have loved to get her trowel on an unexcavated, unknown version. I'm going to play around with the idea until I have a plot, then see what the editor thinks. Should be fun!