Thursday, 18 July 2013

Danger Ahead

After some considerably faffing about I am beginning work on Lonely Emily again, and hoping to finish it (well, first draft, anyway) within the next four weeks. But, there's a problem.
I've always been of the opinion that, as much as possible, my readers should basically have no idea what happens next. You can tackle this in a number of way - but over plotting isn't one of them. If you sit down and carefully plot out a storyline it will, by the nature of the process, be a logical plot - a progression from one action to another leading to an inevitable final conclusion; predictable, in other words. But life isn't like this, and books shouldn't be either. If an agent/publisher wants a synopsis, they'll have to wait until I finish writing the book - because, in a very real way, books plot themselves - I just take notes.
One key thing I do when writing is to create little pools of quicksand in the narrative. So, just when the plot is rattling along nicely I drop in something completely out of the blue that throws everything off track. In Super Maxwell and the Burning Boys this very large patch of quicksand was a character by the name of Trevor Smethurst - a completely unpredictable super-intelligent T-Rex, who, suddenly, and entirely unexpectedly (even for me) joined forces with Maxwell's nemesis, Titus Mamble.
What will come of this relationship? I've really got no idea, but it will be interesting finding out!
I've done something similar with Lonely Emily - the last few lines in the narrative I wrote before moving on to something new (and a about a third of the way through the book) follow:
‘What do these words mean, Frank?’ Mrs Smythe’s words stirred Sarah out of her thoughts, and she found they were at the gate to her home, Mrs Smythe’s strong fingers pointed at the undecipherable scrawl beneath the carving of the bear.  ‘I know they’re not Russian.’

‘No, not Russian, no no,’ Mr Frank pushed open the gate.  ‘Come through please, is very late, yes?’

‘But what—‘

‘Is very old, Mrs Smythe, very, very old words, yes?’  The old man stared at her, his face unreadable in the darkness, his eyes glittered as if they themselves were filled with their own stars.  ‘Miss Sarah she is tired, and her cat it must be fed, yes?’

'But of course,’ Mrs Smythe smiled apologetically at Sarah.  ‘Come along, Sarah, I have a nice spare room—‘

'What do the words mean, Mr Frank?’ Sarah asked suddenly.

 ‘I do not think this is the time, Miss Sarah, I think, yes, quite soon yes, that soon it will snowing be—‘

 ‘What do they mean?’ Sarah insisted.

The old man sighed, and turning placed his fingers on the stick letters that looked like no letters that Sarah had ever seen.

‘Theses words they have been here for time before time,’ Mr Frank replied, his voice low, seeming to move from the darkness like it was the shadows themselves speaking.  ‘Have always been here at Bear House, your see?’  Mr Frank sighed.

‘These words,’ he said ‘They say ‘Sarah Gray’.’

Quicksand. This one patch is very deep - and (without giving too much away) I only have a very vague idea why Sarah's name is on a gate that is so old it is virtually petrified, in a language older than Russian ... and there is the adventure and the thrill of writing. There's danger ahead, and I can't wait to wade through the quicksand...

...and hopefully come out of the other side!


Monday, 11 February 2013

Resurrecting an old friend

The good news is, I've started writing again ... But not quite what I expected to.
I have started writing The Resurrection Bureau again - this is one of the many projects - along with Lonely Emily, The Tell Tale Boy and Mabel Maybe - which I started writing and then kind of ran out of steam. I'm sure a lot of writers have projects like this, but The Resurrection Bureau was always an idea which kept nagging at me to get in finished. It is also (rarely for me!) a stand alone story. Beginning, middle, end, no sequel - so that's very appealing, considering the hundreds of characters and plot lines that are involved in writing the next Super Maxwell book, The Crimson King. So, between now and July 1st I am going to try my damnedest to get The Resurrection Bureau finished - even though (at the time of writing) I don't actually have an end for it!
I've also entered it into the 2013 Northern Writers Awards. And they expecting you to finish things (!), so hopefully that will compel me to pick up my pen and start writing on a cold Monday morning - rather than pick up a book and start reading (currently reading A Clash of Kings, by the way, highly recommended).
This could be a disaster of course, but this is a blog about writing, no necessarily about being a successful writer, so it should at least be interesting disaster.
More news soon, keep the faith!