Starting Work on a New Novel

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.Trilogy

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.

Panic!!!

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.)

Author at Work

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.

What ifThe 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. 🙂

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Writing Process Blog Tour

A big thank you to Georgia Rose for nominating me for the Writing Process Blog Tour in which readers can find out a little about my work and how I go about it. The Writing Process Blog Tour also gives you the opportunity to find out what other authors are working on and how their writing process works. You can view Georgia’s blog post here.

‘A Single Step’ is Georgia’s first romantic suspense novel, and is the first book in The Grayson Trilogy. It will be joined by ‘Before the Dawn’ this summer and finally by ‘Thicker than Water’. You can find out more about Georgia at http://www.georgiarosebooks.com/.

I have to answer four questions about what, why and how I write, then link to the blogger that tagged me, and tag two or three more authors in turn.
Here goes:-

1) What am I working on now?

Having published two non-fiction books, I am currently editing my first novel, which I originally started writing 15 years ago. I have also written the first 8000 words of my second novel although a lot of it is in outline form. The first book is a crime thriller set in 80s Manchester and the plot involves two main characters, Julie and Rita, who have been accused of a murder they didn’t commit. The second book is also a crime thriller set in Manchester but it follows the lives of a brother and sister as they grow into adulthood. It explores the effects of a harsh upbringing on the brother and sister and shows how that impacts on their lives in later years.

2) How does my work differ from others in its genre?

I would have to say that a big difference lies in my characters. Where some crime thrillers focus mainly on events, I like to give equal emphasis to the characters. In fact, some readers may feel that I give more emphasis to the characters. I regard my novels as being about ordinary people who are faced with extraordinary circumstances, and I take a look at how my characters react to those circumstances.

In my debut novel two young women are accused of a murder they didn’t commit. The way in which they handle that situation differs immensely and this is due partly to their different upbringings and outlooks on life. The main character, Julie Quinley, is more vulnerable and therefore finds it difficult to come to terms with the accusations. This drives her almost to the point of breakdown but she has an inner strength that sees her through. Her friend, Rita, on the other hand, has had a tougher upbringing and, as a result, she has a more resilient personality. She is brash, flirtatious and feisty, and she doesn’t let anything stand in her way.

Because I like to represent my characters as real characters, this is reflected in their behaviour and the way in which they speak. Unfortunately this means there is a lot of bad language in the book but I feel that this is necessary to give an accurate portrayal. Otherwise the novel would lose some of its authenticity.

3) Why do I write what I do?

ImaginationI’m the product of an overactive imagination and I constantly have ideas floating around in my head. These will come to me at the most unexpected moments, for example, when I am out walking or in the middle of the night. I therefore keep a notepad by my bed. Sometimes I can wake up with whole scenes written inside my head and I will have to quickly jot them down before I forget them.

The reason why I choose the particular topics that I choose is because of my life’s experiences. I’ve seen a lot of life, both good and bad, and for me writing is a form of catharsis. My first book actually started off as a feel good book. I began writing it when the children were young and I would reminisce about the great nights out that I had in my 20s. This meant that the book had a real chic lit feel initially. Then I felt that it needed to have more substance and a bit of grit so I started thinking about what would happen if it all went wrong and something was to destroy that party lifestyle. This resulted in the addition of a new first chapter, which begins with the arrest of the main character. The second chapter then goes back to the events that led up to her arrest.What if

With my second book, I have again asked the question, ‘What if?’ What if I was to take all of the bad elements from people that I have come across throughout my life and combine them into one really bad character? (This character is in fact represented by the father in the book.) What if the outcome of a problematic childhood was to harbour future problems for the people involved? What if those problems were to have a devastating effect?

4) How does my writing process work?

As mentioned above, if an idea comes to me I have to jot it down, then I’ll type it up as soon as I get the time. That idea may be the concept for a whole novel or it might be a particular chapter or scene within a novel. If it’s a concept for a novel, I will instinctively know whether that idea is worth developing further. At the moment I have outline ideas for about 20 novels. The most frustrating thing for me is finding the time to develop those ideas into full-length novels in between undertaking client work. I always start with an outline and I like to think of that as a framework that I can then build onto. I try to build up that framework in sequence but if a scene for later in the book comes to me I will add that in and then return to an earlier part of the book. Once I edit the book I can ensure that it flows well from chapter to chapter.

With the first book I developed the outline as I developed the plot. So, I would start with a loose outline then eventually develop it into a chapter by chapter overview. This would help me to keep track of where I was up to if I had to spend a long time away from my novel because of other work commitments. I also worked out a timeline and had a character profile for each of the characters as well as a list of places featured in the novel.

I did a certain amount of research at the outset but once I’m in full flow I hate to disrupt my continuity so I did put off some of the research until the book was written. That means that now I’ve reached the editing stage I’m still having to do some fact checking regarding police procedure. Thankfully, the Internet has moved on considerably since I started writing the novel so that makes it much easier.

I am tagging three excellent authors:

Taylor Fulks

As well as being an award winning author, Taylor is a Registered Nurse First Assistant specialising in open heart surgery.

Her debut novel My Prison Without Bars is based on Taylor’s own true story and gives a harrowing account of her experiences as an abused child. It won 1st Place in the 2013 Indie Reader Discovery Awards, and was the 2013 Readers’ Favourite International Book Awards Gold Medal Winner. US readers can purchase the book here.

You can visit Taylor’s blog at Taylor Fulks, and can find out more about Taylor and her writing through her website: http://taylorfulks.com/.

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 Charlie Plunkett

Charlie is the author of a series of ‘true diary’ books that chart the milestone moments in her life. These include: The True Diary of a Bride-to-be, The True Diary of a Mum-to-be and The True Diary of Baby’s First Year. Her latest book 100 Little Words on Parenthood involved 100 fabulous writers and bloggers who share what parenthood means to them in exactly 100 words.

Charlie is currently working on a number of exciting writing projects and she will be sharing details of these in her forthcoming blog post. You can find details of all Charlie’s books and visit her blog at: Charlie Plunkett.

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Yasmin Selena Butt

Yasmin was born in London. She has previously worked as an English language trainer, a music writer for The Times and a marketing freelancer. She has also written over a thousand poems, exhibited her fiction and photography and performed her debut reading at Proud Galleries in Camden.

The title of her debut novel Gunshot Glitter was inspired by a song by Jeff Buckley which appeared on ‘Sketches for My Sweetheart the Drunk’. Gunshot Glitter is a crime thriller which was self-published to retain complete creative control. You can see more reviews of Gunshot Glitter at: Goodreads.

Yasmin’s blog is at: http://yasminselenabutt.wordpress.com.

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Charlie, Taylor and Yasmin’s blog posts about their writing process will follow in the coming weeks.

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