Having completed most of the initial promotion for my second novel A Gangster’s Grip I’ve finally made a start on my third novel. I use the words, ‘initial promotion’ because I realise that promotion is ongoing. However, it is more concentrated at the launch of a novel. Because of this, together with client work, it has been several weeks since I have done any actual book writing.
After such a prolonged break I found it difficult to get started with the third book. I already had a plot outlined so I thought it was just a matter of doing some research and then the ideas would start flowing as they usually do. Unfortunately, after carrying out some initial research I found that my plot was totally unworkable. So there I was a few days ago with no plot whatsoever for my third book.
It was an ironic situation because there are plenty of other books I would like to write and I have even penned some ideas for several of them. The problem was, I had to write this book because it’s a trilogy. It’s promoted as a trilogy, the book cover designs show that the first two books are part of a trilogy and I’ve written the first two books with a third book in mind.
Ok, I was tempted to panic but instead I tried to stay calm and think of a different angle. It wasn’t coming to me immediately so I broke for lunch. Then, when I had switched off, the ideas started forming. By about three in the afternoon I had the bare bones of a plot. I know that my subconscious brain kicks in when I am relaxed so I took another break and had a walk to the bank. By the time I returned I had the whole thing worked out and couldn’t wait to type it up.
It’s still quite daunting though because what I have is a basic plot outline. I would still like to throw in a few more and twists and turns here and there. I’m also feeling a bit dissatisfied because I had psyched myself up to write the book I had originally planned. However, I have only just touched on the research for this book and I know that more ideas will start to flow once I get engrossed in the writing. (They usually do as long as I keep focused and stay positive but, like most authors, I’m prone to periods of self-doubt.)
I think starting a new novel is always going to be a bit scary if you let yourself get carried away. Basically what you have initially is the germ of an idea, which may be between a few hundred to a few thousand words. You then have to decide whether that idea can run to a full-length novel. Even when you’ve made that decision you can still have feelings of trepidation that you might not quite make it, even if you’ve succeeded with previous novels.
You might even have the characters in mind but how do you flesh out the plot? How do you take a novel from a sketchy outline and develop it into a full-length novel. I personally go through a process. Beginning with the outline I gradually build it up into a chapter by chapter synopsis. I start to write the actual narrative when I think I’ve got enough ideas to work with. These ideas can come at different stages and are helped along by various processes: research, exploring any initial ideas, adding sub-plots to the main plot, building on the early outline, planning the sequence of events and the highlights of the novel etc.
The more engrossed I become, the more the ideas flow. I also often find that I write out of sequence if, for example, I think of an idea for a scene later in the novel. I prefer to write it out in full straightaway while it’s fresh in my mind then I can slot it into the overall framework.
I love the feeling when the ideas are flowing. I’ve not quite reached that stage yet and I think this is because I hadn’t done any (novel) writing for several weeks. It’s starting to come though, but I need to carry out more detailed research before I can push forward. I’m off to the library tomorrow to comb through the archives. I need to read eye-witness accounts of a particular event so that I can get a real sense of what it felt like. I’m hoping to come home fired up and raring to go.
The third book in the trilogy will be another work of fiction but, as with ‘A Gangster’s Grip’, it will be based on real events. It looks like I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me. 🙂